Over 60 years ago Japanese buyers made an art form of winning negotiations.  Western companies meeting with Japanese businesses would find themselves negotiating with a room full of people.

Vendors interacted and negotiated with the Japanese person “spokesman”, while often ignoring the quiet one in the corner.

A big mistake, as this person actually had the power.

Fast forward to today and I still see salespeople making a similar mistake here.

Any high value sale today involves multiple stakeholders and influencers.  You need to understand what EVERY person’s motivation is and what they need to know to progress the deal.  Miss one out and you risk losing.

This is just one example from our files.

The organisation had done a number of multi-million dollar projects for the buyer in different locations.  They had a sterling reputation.  The buyer’s project people knew their capabilities and freely admitted they never bought on price alone.  They understood the vendor’s capabilities and selected them on merit.

Asked to tender for a major job in another location, they put in a bid.

The vendor knew and had extensively worked with 3 of the 4 people on the selection panel.  The 4th was the local accountant who had never dealt with them before.

I pointed out this was a red flag and that they needed to go through the whole tender submission with this person and explain in detail why each item was included and the impact on the result.

They didn’t bother.  Suffice to say, this person couldn’t see the value and kyboshed the deal – worth a cool $5 million.  A costly lesson in anybody’s book.

My hope for you is you never fall into this trap.

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