Six Traps to Avoid When Negotiating Large-Quantity Book Sales
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(Editor's Note: This blog is one in a series of six blogs, each including one of the six traps to avoid when negotiating large-quantity book sales.)
Corporate executives can purchase your books in large, non-returnable quantities. However, the process to convince them to buy is not short, nor is it easy. These people are spending their company’s money, so they must justify their decisions to those higher up the organizational ladder. The decision makers negotiate with you to get the best deal and to confirm they know the answers to the right questions. Much of your sales success will be the result of making the buyers feel they are making the best decision.
Most publishers are not skilled negotiators, and may feel at a disadvantage when dealing with a person trained is salesmanship. Yet in most cases, a sale may be more likely if you know how to recognize and avoid the situations that could automatically disqualify you as a sales professional. In a series of six blog postings I will discuss each of the top negotiating traps in which you could unknowingly find yourself.
Trap #1: Neglecting the other person's problems
Corporate buyers want to solve their problems, not yours. As a consultant, your job is to show them how they can use your content to improve their circumstances in some way. For a marketing director this could be increased sales, revenue or profits. An HR manager may seek a better trained, informed or motivated workforce. Focus on minimizing their troubles as a means to solving your own.
Begin by understanding your counterparts’ interests and shape the decision so your prospects agree to the sale for their own reasons. Your objective is to create sustainable value without being perceived as being manipulative.
How can you discover their problems? Your initial research should help. Ask questions about their objectives. What do they want to accomplish with a promotional campaign? What went right (or wrong) with their previous promotional campaigns? Find out what problems they want to avoid. One question that can elicit that information is, “If you could wave your magic wand, how would you describe the ultimate sales promotion?”
Another technique requires a little preliminary commentary. Summarize as if you are leading up to a closing question. List all the points to which you have agreed so far. You may be able to feel the tension build as your prospect thinks a decision is imminent. But you feint with a different question, eliminating the tension and getting the relieved prospect to open up. Say something like, “Let’s suppose we agree to begin the campaign today. Now place yourself a year from today as you look back over the campaign. What would it have accomplished? What would make you glad that you agreed to begin today?”
This is not being manipulative. You are not trying to get your prospects to do something against their better judgment. You are trying to get a better understanding of what the other party really wants, and how you can help them get it. Asking questions is usually the least threatening way to do that. If you want to change a person's mind, first know where that mind is, where it wants to be and how you can help it get there.
A quotation that is generally attributed to Brian Tracey states, “One convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” This means that if you tell people how much better off they will be with your solution, they may agree with you on the surface, but deep down they may reject your conclusion. And they may resent the fact that you are not listening to their concerns but are pushing your own agenda perhaps at their expense. Decisions made in that frame of mind are usually reversed and the order never placed.
Instead, ask questions to get people involved. Lead them to their own conclusions based on what you get them to say, think and feel. Build the “golden bridge” spanning from where the other person is now to his or her desired end point. A better quotation would be, “Those convinced by what they say will sell themselves and stay that way.”
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."