Recently I spent two weeks in Asia working with one of my buying organization clients.  During that period, one issue consistently came up when discussing live deals and sellers – especially those they wished to have a long term relationship with.  And the issue was that my client just could not figure out what was important to the selling organization and what each seller wanted out of the deal and the relationship.

This is not an atypical occurrence and it certainly is not one that is specific to Asia. I’ve seen this all over the world. Why are selling organizations universally reluctant to share with their customers what is important to them in a deal? This is a question I have been asking myself for some time. After many discussions with both Buying and Selling clients, I have found there are three basic reasons and I would like to address each of these in turn.

#1 – I don’t want to give the Buyer any power over me in the negotiation!

This is the most common reason I am given by sellers and yet it is completely false. Power in any sale and subsequent negotiation does not come from what is important to you in a deal.  Power is a function of each side’s alternative. The side that can walk away from a deal with the least pain is the side that has the power. It is not a function of what is important to each side in a deal.

Let me give you an example. Assume I am the seller and you are the buyer. I tell you that a bigger deal is more attractive to us than a smaller deal. How can you (the buyer) use that against me? Well you might tell me that you are not in a position to purchase a larger amount or perhaps you are not interested in a large commitment at this time. My response would be that’s fine, however, since the deal is not that big, it is not that attractive to us. Therefore, my management will not give me the leeway to give you a higher discount that you requested.  How did you use it against me? You didn’t!

#2 – The Buyer does not care what is important to me in a deal!

So what? I bet in a lot of cases the buyer (especially Procurement) may not care what is important to you. That’s not your objective and frankly I don’t care if they don’t care. A deal must work for both sides for a long term relationship to work. The buyer may not care, but we can quickly show them why they should care.

Just like in the example above we are prepared to do a deal that is not that attractive to us, however we will not be in a position to give the Buyer some of the things that are important to them. When you take this stance, suddenly the other side starts to become a lot more interested in what is important to you.

#3 – The Buyer may not like what is important to me in a deal!

I’m willing to bet that in many sales situations, this is the case. Again, so what? Do you think it is some sort of “state secret” that you actually want to close a larger deal and you must not let the Buyer know? Or how about that you would really like to close it this quarter versus next quarter? Who are you kidding? Buyers probably guessed this the minute you walked in their door.

Again, the Buyer may not like what you have to say, but at least now they understand what you need in order for them to get what they need. Remember, if a deal does not work for one side, ultimately it won’t work for either if there is any desire for a long term relationship

Now let me give you the other side of the coin – the positive things that can happen when you do share what is important to you in a deal. What if you actually had a customer or prospect that wanted to do a deal that was good for you as well as them? How can they help you achieve that if they don’t know where you are coming from? The short answer is they can’t. It’s also the long answer. Remember, you are not giving the Buyer any power over you.  Rather, you are empowering them to help you craft a deal that works for both sides.

You would not believe the time, effort and energy most buying organizations expend trying to figure out where a selling organization is coming from. I would rather tell them early and let them use that same time, effort and energy helping me craft a deal that works for them as well as me!

Try it and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The most common comments I hear are “Thank you! You are the first supplier to share that information with us!” or “We would rather have a partnership with an organization that knows where it wants to go and is transparent with us!” I hope I’ve convinced you that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by sharing this information.

Now this does presuppose you know what is important to you in a deal, but that is a topic for another blog…