What’s the Difference Between Selling & Negotiating?

If you’re job involves some element of business to business sales interaction, it may also involve some level of negotiation.


Many salespeople aren’t natural negotiators – that’s not necessarily a bad thing or a lost cause – it’s just that the personality traits demonstrated by great B2B salespeople and commercial account managers, usually have more to do with being helpful than being hard-nosed.

But that’s why a lot of account managers stumble and struggle to differentiate between the two – selling and negotiating.

You see, if you continue – or have to restart – selling during a negotiation, it may very well be seen as a sign of weakness (or fear) – and it’s definitely a sign you didn’t use your precious selling time well enough when you had the chance to.

On the other hand, if you dive in and start to negotiate before you’ve finished selling – then the customer won’t have any real chance to recognise the true value of what you have to offer.

There are a number of sales negotiation courses – which tend to have more in common with Special Forces training camps than business development workshops – that rarely help those who really need it.

Yes they’re a great couple of days out for those thrusty, gung-ho, do or die members of the sales team (everybody knows at least one) – but far less helpful for Bob who just wants to know how to ensure he gets an aisle end display for Christmas or Susan who has got her third phase of price increases to push through.

You see, there are a number of glaring differences between the skills required to be an exceptional influencer, business partner and brand ambassador – and those required to become a top notch negotiator.

For instance: Selling is about matching a problem with a solution, helping someone to see how you can help. But that’s not negotiating.

Selling also involves explaining and presenting the total value of your product or service and the benefit to the customer of moving forward with you, rather than going with someone else. And that’s not negotiating either.

At Varda Kreuz we talk about the Selling with EASE cycle; Earn the Right – Ask the Appropriate Questions – Solve the Problem – Execute the Solution.

Any and all negotiation takes place in that final section – Execute the Solution.

You see negotiating can only happen after all the selling has been completed – when both sides are ready to move forward and seek to reach an agreement upon which they can both live with.

Negotiation is all about two parties trying to get the best deal available for their own side of the table – which is a discussion that definitely shouldn’t be mistaken for a price objection, if you’ve started negotiating – objections should have already been overcome.

And negotiation definitely isn’t about winning – your customers aren’t the competition, that’s the – erm – competition (you know, the other people who want the same business you’re negotiating for).

Negotiating may also involve an element of bartering, wrangling, haggling, hard bargaining, dealing, concession trading and defending your position. And that is definitely not selling.

Here’s another way to think about it;

When you’ve finished selling, you’re probably going to put in your proposal.

On how many occasions this year – after submitting your proposal – have you INCREASED THE PRICE because the customer requested further negotiations?

So, before you begin to negotiate, ensure that you’ve finished selling – which means making sure you’ve packed in every piece of value you could muster.

Otherwise you’ll just end up building your sales castle on a foundation of sand.

And a castle built on sand is never a good place to defend anything.

So try and remember this;

Selling During Negotiation = Sign of Weakness

Negotiating Before You’ve Finished Selling = Weakened Value


Interested in finding out more?

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