“High-Pressure” Sales Tactics – For Better or Worse

Throughout my career I have attended several generic sales trainings- which often could be deemed “high-pressure” sales tactics.  Most were a long time ago, and they crossed industry boundaries.

For a short time I also was the sales and telemarketing manager for a small company, with a small team of telemarketers under my supervision.  Think “dial for dollars”!

I realize that some sales engineers have not had similar experiences or trainings- especially those who began their career in the technical/ engineering/ software development realms.  These folks typically have the technical aspects of their job and company down pat- but the sales portion can be a bit more of a struggle.

Due to that fact, I offer the following main takeaways from the few sales trainings that I have attended.  I, as well as NAASE, am not endorsing any of these tactics.  Some are not typically done in a B2B environment, but there are some benefits to some points listed.   These can also be viewed as to why many people dislike “salespeople”- which on its own can be good to know as a sales engineer.  Without further ado, in no particular order:

  • Confront, and overcome, each buyer objection (typically, as they come).  This is essentially part of “don’t take No for an answer”.  Basically, persuade the buyer that their answer or objection/perception is wrong.  Whatever they say, turn it around on them and try to prove that there really is no obstacle in buying from you.
  • Price:  Everyone, almost always, will say that the price is too high.  For many people, it doesn’t matter what figure you quote, it will be “too high” according to the prospect.  Soon enough a salesperson will not even hear the prospect when/if the prospect claims that the price is too high.  Maybe that is part of the point of the sales trainers.
  • Rejection is the name of the game; get used to it.  Don’t take it personally.  In many product or service sales operations, it is a numbers game.  In my telemarketing manager role, I would hand out lists of companies and people to contact with phone numbers and titles etc.  People would just make tons of cold calls, and usually get ignored, hung up on, yelled at, or in a slightly more polite outcome- pleasantly rejected.   And yes, I also had to make many of these telemarketing calls myself.  That was a tough job- I respect people that actually do this every day or week.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence, during a sales presentation or conversation/ negotiation.  Awkward silence can actually be good; it’s a poker game.  See what the prospect says- wait to hear them.
  • Make sure you are meeting with the decision-makers.   Back when I did home improvement sales we would always make a point to set the sales appointment with all relevant decision-makers (typically husband and wife, etc.).  If I got there to the home and 1 of them was absent, it essentially was a lost cause.  Our “closing rate” would go down about 50%.  In almost all cases, the outcome of the sales “pitch” was- “I don’t know yet; I’ll have to talk it over with my wife,”.  And there was no way to really overcome that hurdle in the moment.

Most of what is noted herein is not relevant in today’s consultative B2B sales world.  However, some good advice can still be gleaned from it.  Sales engineers are professionals, and they are technical in nature, but don’t ever forget that the word “sales” is right there in the title.

When confidence feels elusive

by Misha Bartlett


When you are stepping into a new leadership role or taking on new challenges, you may start to doubt your capabilities or feel your confidence wane.

There are several dimensions to confidence. There are also several myths about how to become more confident. Fortunately, there is a lot of research to point us in a direction more likely to build confidence. 

Confident people are able to quickly learn from and move past failures. They lean into mastery rather than perfectionism, and to foster a positive self-concept of their capabilities even when challenged.

The truth is that you are entirely in charge of how you feel, including whether you feel confident. Once you understand that your feelings are in your control, you’re starting to understand how to build up your confidence. 

Confidence is not something you are born with – it’s something you have to create for yourself.  Sometimes daily. Building your confidence fosters feelings of certainty that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. It is like any other emotion, and you can train yourself to access it. 

Step 1 to building confidence: Know why you want to achieve it.

Once you figure out your purpose, or your Why as Simon Sinek calls it, learning how to build confidence becomes a matter of retraining how you think. To achieve your goals, you have to embody a confident person. There may still be uncertainty that wants to hold you back. Staying connected to your Why will help you to push past hesitation, doubt, and fear.

Step 2 to building confidence: Uncover the beliefs that are causing self-doubt. 

By confronting your limiting beliefs and shifting how you think, learning how to gain confidence will start to come naturally. If you find yourself focusing on negative, limiting beliefs when it’s time to be confident, stop yourself. Think of something positive about yourself instead and begin focusing on all the reasons you’ll succeed instead of why you’ll fail.

Step 3 to building confidence: Think about something you’re proud of.

When you’re feeling unsure of yourself, think about a recent accomplishment that you’re really proud of.

Your mind will begin to think in positive terms, not negative ones. Learn how to retrain your mind to start thinking more positively, and you’ll start feeling more self-assured as a result. You don’t need to wear rose-colored glasses – it’s more about having a realistic idea of your skills. When you focus on positive self-talk, you’re able to look at setbacks as simply stepping stones to success. 

The research tells us that whatever you put your attention on grows, so consider how you can focus your thinking on:

  • Your values
  • Your strengths
  • Your wins
  • Your learning
  • Envisioning successes
  • Thinking of yourself as capable

How to create a Super Hero style LinkedIn Profile

Do I Need a LinkedIn Profile? | TopResume

By David Alto

When creating your LinkedIn profile, it can be unclear what to include, or what to avoid.

I want to ensure that you expand on your personal brand, because let’s face it…this is what your LinkedIn profile is.

If you’re looking to secure a new job, here is what you’ll want to work on first.

Update your Headline

I like to tell my clients your Headline is like the world’s shortest elevator pitch. Please do not put the name of the company you work for here. This is your personal brand. So, let’s say you’re a Project Manager with Amazon…. you could write the following: “Project Manager | Servant Leader | Virtual Trainer | Operations Management” or “Project Manager leveraging across functional relationships to deliver on time projects.

I would suggest searching others on LinkedIn doing what you do and see how they approach it.                                                


Search Engine Optimization is alive and well and lives in your Headline. This is why it is important to include keywords/skills in your Headline. My clients end up showing up in more recruiter searches because we did some SEO on their Headline.

About section is your opportunity

Recruiters and hiring managers go to your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you. In this section think about writing it as if you are having coffee with a new colleague at a coffee shop. What would you tell them “About” yourself? It’s perfectly OK to write in first person in this section. Tell the world what it is you have done, what you’re doing now, and why you do it. Give people a reason to reach out to you.

Featured section is great to showcase your…

By adding a Featured section, you will now be able to showcase that Project, Presentation, Video/Interview, a mention in an Article, a mention in your Company website, Publication, Award, Certificate, etc.

The Featured is the perfect place to validate those accomplishments, achievements and metrics you have on your resume.

You can also put these same accomplishments and attach them into your work experience section as well.

But if you only have a few (2-4) of these I would highly suggest that you put them in the Featured section because this section is closer to the top of your LinkedIn profile and they show up in a larger format drawing attention to them.

Because the average LinkedIn user does not take advantage of this feature, when others see items in that Featured section they stop and take notice.

Let’s recap

Recruiters visit your profile because:

1)   They searched for people doing what you do and found you


2)   They have your resume and want to visit your LinkedIn profile in order to learn more about you.

This is why you want and need a Super Hero LinkedIn profile.

  • Showcase your talents, accomplishments, and metrics…
  • Have that Hiring Manager or Recruiter feel confident in reaching out to you because you have what they need it its clear because of the improvements you made to your profile.

When deciding what to include on your LinkedIn profile, it’s important to consider many factors. Ensuring optimal formatting, highlighting information that will support your experience and expertise and tailoring your profile to the specific industry are all crucial elements to a LinkedIn profile that will get you noticed.

Checklist for Creating a Close Rate Boosting Sales Presentation

By Chris Davidson

Managing Director, Active Presence Limited

1The presentation serves one, clear objective
2The presenter has memorised an engaging opening (of approx. 90s)
3The content is summarised early on
4The main content is presented in easily digestible chunks
5Selected stories fit well with the audience’s prior knowledge
6The presentation has a clear call to action
7The presenter has memorised the call to action
8There are no bullet-point lists
(other than in handouts or presenter’s notes)
9The visual display is a continuous experience for the audience (and not obviously chopped up into separate slides with clunky transitions)
10What the presenter says is integrated with what the audience sees
11Animations are integrated with the presenter’s message
12The presenter can deliver fluently, in sync with the slides (and knows all the click-points, transitions, etc)
13Key messages are identified and repeated during the presentation
14There are multiple opportunities for the audience to ask questions (Necessary for sales presentations, inappropriate for large stage conferences)
15There is a clear place for final questions to be addressed (prior to the call to action being delivered)
16Corporate branding is kept to an absolute minimum
(Ideal: logo at the start/end, with central slides devoid of any branding)
17Images are high quality and full screen, with minimal wording
18Capability Statement
Client testimonials are included, one per slide (and large enough to be easily read by people at the back of the room)
19Slides are not numbered
20A separate handout has been prepared (if required) (Slides are not to be handed over to clients)

Why Join NAASE?


Over the past few months, some individuals as well as some corporations have asked us “why should I/we join NAASE as a member?”  This is a key question, even with the inexpensive dues associated with NAASE.  Please consider the following during your decision process:

  • Doing your part in growing the ONLY cross-industry sales engineering professional association in North America.  Be proud, and promote, the SE field and career!  Include our Logo in your signature, etc.
  • Networking with other like-minded, professional technical salespeople from a wide variety of fields/ industries- across the USA, Canada, Mexico…. and more.
  • Ability to have your work/writing published on the NAASE Blog page and the NAASE LinkedIn page.  A recent LI post that we published 4 days ago now has over 1,600 views/reads- for example.   Showcase your knowledge and abilities.
  • If you are seeking employment, we are able to broadcast/post your profile and resume/qualifications to our audience and other members.
  • If you are trying to fill a position at your company, we can post said position on our LinkedIn page. (Restrictions may apply.)
  • As a member in good standing of NAASE, you are eligible (if you qualify) to receive a certificate and become a “Certified Sales Engineer”/ CSE.  This is an excellent professional designation which helps to set you apart from other SE’s in the market.
  • NAASE is an affiliate partner of Above The Standard (ATS) business consultancy group.  ATS offers many benefits regarding business development, sales automation, cost cutting, and other business tools and research.  Inquire for more details.
  • Invitations to our exclusive, interactive “Industry Insider” forums/ conference calls- with industry experts.  These regularly-scheduled ZOOM events focus on various topics essential to the technical sales pro.

If you have any further questions, thoughts, or suggestions, please reach out to us via below.  Thank you.


Ken Lambert, President

Matt Mahoney, Vice President

The Business of Sales and Marketing Isn’t What It Used to Be

By Ken Lambert President, North American Association of Sales Engineers

Article featured in USA Today

A trend that has been building for a few years seems to be accelerating due to the COVID-19 disruption to the economy in 2020. As face-to-face business meetings and prospecting has dwindled to essentially nothing for months, marketing and business development cannot take time off. Artificial and augmented intelligence (AI) is making quick inroads within sales across many sectors.

We are past the proof of concept stage and there are many niche firms and software that are taking advantage of the market disruption. A quick Google search for “sales artificial intelligence” turned up 149 million results. 

As a simple example, auto-responders are a type of AI.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have created computers that can essentially “think” for us given certain inputs and parameters.  Who wouldn’t want to have a qualified virtual assistant at our side?

Mining “big data” is another offshoot of AI.  We often hear about big data, and the computers, algorithms, and programmers analyzing said data. Just think of the simple filter tools which leads-focused companies employ on their “opportunities” pages.  With some forethought, the user or subscriber can change some criteria and allow the program to sift through hundreds or thousands of prospects or projects and come back with the best ones for the user to chase and spend costly time upon.  With a little thought, “big” data can be used productively within the prospecting community.

Artificial intelligence, and its cousin automation, is everywhere within the sales cycle if you are looking for it.  As another example, consider the B2B world of LinkedIn.  There is an entire cottage industry associated with automated business development exclusively within LinkedIn accounts.

There are dozens of tech companies out there now who are essentially providing a download or plug-in service where they are providing one or more of the following services: Sending invitations to connect with typically second level connections; following second and third level connections; sending canned private messages to new connections; forwarding incoming messages to email; endorsing first connections for one to three skills listed on their profile.

Do they actually work?

These LinkedIn plug-ins are not the end-all, be-all.  But they are an option and can prove very effective in growing your network and increasing one-to-one conversations.   

Many of the available programs guide, in real time, proper responses in a sales conversation with a prospect. The AI software looks for patterns and specific word choices, and possibly even voice recognition and pauses or other verbal cues to better predict the sales outcome. The software then shares this with the salesperson.  This helps with the potential sale that very minute, but also over time. It is a means of integrated sales training whereby the employee will rely less upon the software as the days continue. In essence, the person will become a better salesperson. That will increase revenues, but also should increase compensation for the employee.

Tools and software are constantly being tweaked and improved based on real-time responses and business improvements.  Artificial intelligence is all about working smarter, not harder.

Link to Original Article Here:

Interview with Ludovic Tendron about Negotiating.

NAASE sat down with Ludovic Tendron, author of The Master Key: Unlock Your Influence & Success in Negotiations and founder of his consulting firm Ludovic, to interview him about the art of negotiating. The interview is below. You can purchase at Barnes and Noble or from Amazon here.

  1. In a typical scenario, we (the seller/ product or service provider) have a given price of $100,000.  The buyer/prospect has said that their budget (??) is $80,000.  Both sides appear to want to work together on the project/offering.  From the seller side, how do we avoid just doing the typical “split the difference” tactic of price negotiation- which in this case would be a 2nd offer of $90,000?  In many cases, that price reduction will drastically effect our compensation/commission on the deal.

Assuming that the product or service is competitive and adds value to buyers. I would consider the following action plan:

First, I would have prepared well to address this type of issue. By preparation, I mean anticipating rather than reacting, building rapport, mapping the terrain, collecting information, identifying leverage, having negative emotions under control (including despair which can sometimes infect salespeople).   Many people limit negotiation to a verbal game and persuasion. This is a mistake. Gaining trust is key. Some people pitch a sale without making this effort. I like this quote from Zig Ziglar: “If people like you, they will listen to you, if they trust you, they will do business with you”. With trust, the counter-part can go the extra mile more easily.

I would then use empathic intelligence to solve this issue. Most of us like to think we are great listeners and fabulous empathizers. Rather we don’t listen enough and we often don’t ask the right questions. The seller should put himself in the shoes of the buyer and try to understand where their resistance is coming from. Very often, people resist because they see a risk for themselves or the corporation they represent. Your role as a seller is to clear the risk from the table of negotiation.

To transcend rejection and overcome obstacles, the seller must engage their creativity and generate ideas. Creative negotiators can best generate solutions when they are not singularly focused on their own needs and instead looking at mutually beneficial outcomes. Can comfort be provided to the buyer another way? What about terms of payment, free service or product, easy contract exit, etc.

The seller should also have a long-term approach and take a step back. Is the effort they are about to make worthwhile? Is it going to bring more opportunities and business in the future? Will making more money now prevent them from building worthwhile relationships? Rational people play the long-term game. Irrational people try to make quick money and let themselves be controlled by their emotions.

Finally, the seller has to avoid putting the buyer on the defensive making them feel they are not deciding for themselves, or that you know better than they do. Such attitude naturally raises defenses. People like to have a high opinion of themselves.

2. When and how and why should we be fully honest and transparent with a prospect/ client?  Where does honesty come into play with negotiation?

It is a dilemma for all negotiators.  

We have an ability to cooperate, but also to manipulate without using force. In human nature, the ability to manipulate developed after the use of language in order to compete for resources and mates without fighting. We are still wired the same way. Deception is in human nature.

We lie (sometimes without noticing it) on average one or two times a day and negotiation is not an exception. We do it most of the time by omission (e.g. hiding a piece of information). We find all kinds of excuses to justify it: “I didn’t know it was important”, “I don’t know this person enough”, etc. We try to keep a self-image of someone reasonable and respectable.

The lure of power, money, and benefits, as well as conflicts of interest, the need to protect our interests, lead us to lie.

At the same time, we cannot be an open book. If we had to tell everyone the complete truth all the time, we could hurt people or get hurt (imagine telling a counter-part they are not really smart). We have to be strategic about the information we disclose.

I personally think that there will always be a conflict in us at some point between protecting our interests and being 100% honest. Having said that, integrity pays off better.  As Francois de Caillieres, French diplomat said “what you obtain through deception rests on unsecure foundations. A lie will always leave a drop of poison behind”.

3. What key phrases are said by a client/prospect which all but proves that they have no intention of doing business with you?

Cues are not so much to find in words but in the person’s attitude and body language. People tend to hide behind words although they can occasionally be betrayed by some of them (what we call lapsus).

It is easier to fake it with words than with your body. It’s impossible to be conscious of all that our body is doing. That’s where the main key is in my opinion.

It is important to analyze a cluster of gestures and not one specifically, spot incongruences with the words spoken, and take the context into consideration.

Signs of rejections could be expressed with crossed arms (or legs), rolling eyes, lack of eye contact (shifty eyes), sighing, lip licking, head shaking, etc.

If you had to find cues in words, you would think that negative words or expressions would reveal rejection. However, research tell us that half of the words we produce are negative (whereas 30% are positive and 20% are neutral). I would suggest to focus more on positive words or expressions such as “yes”, “great”, “totally agree”, “absolutely” or “right” and their repetition.

4. How important is it to be willing and ready to literally walk away from the negotiating table/meeting?  When should that be done?  After doing so, what % of deals will still happen?

I never completely walk away from the negotiation table. I always leave the door open but I also clearly communicate my boundaries. I always play the long-term game. Circumstances can change. A counter-part may have overlooked something. A negotiator can be replaced. One may be able to improve a proposal, etc. I am a big believer in the fact that the frame in which you make an offer carries equal or greater weight than the offer itself.

Having boundaries means that you are prepared to make concessions up to a certain point and face the consequences of a no deal if these boundaries are crossed (or likely to be crossed). It means that beyond this point you are better off without a deal. You should try to set your boundaries ahead of negotiation. Negotiators often underestimate this aspect of preparation to negotiation.

It is difficult to come up with a percentage of deals still happening after breakdown of talks, but we can safely say that tactful, creative and patient negotiators are often the best achievers.

5. In an environment where there are typically 4+ decision makers, do we need to negotiate with each of the 4+ people with a say in the decision, or is it only crucial to negotiate with the highest ranking person on their team?

You don’t need to negotiate with all of them but you need to respect all of them (including listening to them when they are given a chance to talk).

Each group dynamic is different, and, when possible, it’s helpful to determine how tasks are divided, who makes the decisions, which members are most influential, and what rivalries might exist or arise. If you develop an eye for group dynamics, you may be able to influence some members of a group to serve your interests. Having a decision maker does not mean that they won’t be influenced by others. Some decision makers are incapable of making decisions alone

How Self-Limiting Obstructive Beliefs (SLOBs) Sabotage the Sales Cycle

By the Venator Sales Group

6 Simple Tips That Will Help You With Building Your Self Belief

“The economy is hurting us”

“Our solutions are too expensive”

“We need better marketing, website, social media and brochures”

“Our competition has better features and benefits than us”

Sound familiar?  

When salespeople are struggling, they have a litany of excuses for their troubles. While some of these reasons might be valid, there is usually something deeper going on: that person isn’t self-actualizing as a salesperson and therefore, not doing what is necessary to find new opportunities and close new business.  At Venator, we use an acronym called SLOBS (self-limiting obstructive beliefs) to describe this situation.

Some examples of SLOBS include:

  • Cold calling no longer works.
  • I must send a quote as soon as my prospect asks for one. 
  • My prospect will get offended if I ask about competition and budget or ask too many questions. 
  • I must discount in order to get the business.
  • Questioning my key contact’s budget authority or influence will hurt the relationship.
  • Any type of conflict with a prospect will destroy the relationship.
  • I must bring a subject matter expert on a first call to earn credibility.

These are just a few sample beliefs that salespeople collect throughout their career regarding what they can and cannot do.  Besides limiting the ability to hit quota numbers, these SLOBS severely reduce the effectiveness of any and all sales training.  Regardless of how good the process or training technique is, if self-limiting beliefs go unaddressed, they will cripple a salesperson’s ability to execute.

So how do we overcome SLOBS?

Step 1Identify the SLOBS

Since SLOBS are programmed so deeply within our subconscious, how can we identify them? After all, we may not even be aware they exist in the first place. A great way to litmus-test these SLOBS is for a salesperson to ask themselves the following questions:

  • If the opposite were true would it be to your advantage? 
  • Do you find yourself emotionally defending the belief despite contradicting experiential evidence? 
  • Do you quickly dismiss other people’s offering of proof that contradicts the belief? 
  • Would questioning the belief require action that is uncomfortable? 

Step 2: Question the SLOBS

Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias (American radio astronomer that co-discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation) used a type of questioning technique which he called “Jugular Questions.”  Each morning he would wake up and ask himself these questions:

  • Why do I strongly believe what I believe?”
  • What am I inclined to believe?
  • What if I didn’t believe it?”

We can leverage these “Jugular Questions” to get to the root of our SLOBS and move on to the next step which is challenging them.

Step 3Develop the will to challenge your SLOBS

Rather than looking to validate SLOBS, seek experiences that contradict them. Some examples include:

  • Prospects who keep answering qualifying questions.
  • Key stakeholders that are willing to give you information or access to their manager.
  • You or a colleague closing a large opportunity that came from a cold call.
  • A prospect who shares information about budget and competition and a deal closing without having to discount.

All these scenarios go against our deeply held SLOBS and if we take a different perspective, we can see them clearly and ultimately challenge them.

In sales, the right mindset is crucial. If a salesperson is holding on to SLOBS, they will likely sabotage most deals and potentially an entire sales career.  SLOBS are only as strong as the references that support them and these references influence our perspective on reality.  Effectively addressing and correcting these beliefs is critical to sales success.

To quote Nathaniel Branden (psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem), “One of the hardest expressions of self-assertiveness is challenging your limiting beliefs.” Are you willing to take that challenge?

How Sales Engineer Compensation Stacks Up to the Rest

Disrupting the Customer Success Compensation Model | Compensation to  Customer Success | Strikedeck

by Ken Lambert

Of course at the North American Association for Sales Engineers we are biased- but we think that being a sales engineer is one of the best professional career choices out there.  And we are not alone in that thinking.  See the following portion of a Glassdoor article, regarding the 7 highest paying jobs in Sales:

(Hint: #1 on their list is sales engineer.)


Sales engineer

Glassdoor salary range: $68,000-$185,000 (incl. bonuses and commissions)

This gig ranks among Glassdoor’s Top 20 Jobs with the Highest Satisfaction and pays a median annual wage of $101,420, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those operating in the telecommunications industry tend to earn the most, about $118,000 as year, followed by sales engineers in computer systems design and wholesale electronic markets.

Because these workers must have extensive knowledge of a product’s parts and functions as well as understand the scientific processes behind its operation, they typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. Though, those with extensive sales experience and some technical training, may also land a sales engineer role. “Because these pros are highly credentialed, theirs are among the sales jobs that make the most money,” according to Glassdoor.

Money is not everything in a job, or in life.  However it is still an important factor.  It has long been known that the best salespeople do make a considerable amount of money- even with something non-technical.  But on average, the SE (or technical sales rep) has a median compensation of over $101,000 – while the median “run-of-the-mill” salesperson has an average pay of $41,000 (this includes retail, etc.)

Stepping aside from “sales” and comparing a SE across other professions is interesting.  Per Glassdoor, it ranks in the Top 20 regarding highest satisfaction.  All this while typically not needing an advanced college degree.  Most of the other top paying professions do require a Masters or Doctorate level education.

And, as NAASE has noted prior, sales engineers rank #3 in the list of the least likely high-paying jobs which will be impacted by automation and/or artificial intelligence.  Moving forward, this is also extremely important.

It is not for everyone, it’s not necessarily easy, and there are some tough days for sure, but we are here to say that the sales engineer is certainly one of the best jobs available.  And now, whether you are in software, or industrial, or HVAC etc- there is a growing professional association to join and network within.

Buyers, Vendors, and SRM

By Ken Lambert

Credit to: https://kodiakrating.com/2020/11/26/a-new-age-of-negotiation/

Most of us in technical sales are quite familiar with CRM software and technology, and how that assists us in our daily and weekly jobs and tasks.  It can help us work more efficiently and also can point us to the more likely “winning” opportunities.

Likewise, savvy companies (owners) are doing the same thing from the other side of the aisle.  There are several SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) software programs out there which are geared to a variety of outputs which help compare us vendors and help the owner make the best, most objective, and quickest, decision.  It is worth getting behind that curtain to see how companies make purchasing decisions.  In many cases, it is not just a “gut decision”.  The following excerpts are from Kodiak Rating :


Emerging procurement theory suggests that creating win-win situations within buyer and supplier agreements are the best ways to create long-lasting, engaging, creative, collaborative, and innovative partnerships.

The HBR Article titled ‘A New Approach to Contracts’, published in 2018 utilizes the agreement between Dell & FedEx to illustrate how a buyer-supplier relationship and agreement can turn a partnership sour quickly.

A “100-page-plus document was filled with “supplier shall” statements that detailed FedEx’s obligations and outlined dozens of metrics for how Dell would measure success…..

By the eighth year, the parties were at the breaking point. Each lacked trust and confidence in the other, yet neither could afford to end the relationship. Dell’s cost of switching to another company would be high, and FedEx would have trouble replacing the revenue and profits the contract generated. It was a lose-lose scenario” (HBR 2019).

FedEx simply became Fed Up (pun intended) with the terms & conditions of the agreement, and the collaboration never proved to be fruitful for either party involved.

Language like ‘supplier shall’ and pre-defined performance/penalty metrics are classic terms within buyer-supplier agreements. Many agreements are negotiated with an aim to take collateral within the scope of work, from the very beginning of a partnership, to manage risk, align expectations, and enhance profit margins. The rigid edges of this double-edged agreement may seem like a nice shiny means of protection but can end up cutting deep into your supplier relationship just as easily as it can safeguard your interests.

Co-authors of the article David Frydlinger, Oliver Hart, and Kate Vitasek suggest that “the remedy is to adopt a totally different kind of arrangement: a formal relational contract that specifies mutual goals and establishes governance structures to keep the parties’ expectations and interests aligned over the long term. Designed from the outset to foster trust and collaboration, this legally enforceable contract is especially useful for highly complex relationships in which it is impossible to predict every what-if scenario.”

The world is evolving, procurement is evolving, buyer-supplier relationships are evolving and so should the ways that we negotiate & contract. The way I see it; profits aren’t very profitable if they’re made at the expense of people or the planet.

We’re entering into a new age of negotiation and agreements; what’s in it for me is evolving into what’s in it for WE.

Just as negotiation tactics are moving from ‘what’s in it for me’ to ‘what’s in it for we’, suppliers are moving from ‘vendors’ to ‘partners’.

You know this as much as I do, but it’s important to sometimes say the obvious out loud; Suppliers are Collaborators.

A value chain is a harmonious engine of various moving pieces that would stop dead in its tracks without a solid foundation of supplier relationships & collaboration.

Supplier collaboration isn’t a novel area of focus. Early-adopters & innovators of their time have long reaped the benefits of expanding on supplier collaboration initiatives. “In 1989, when Chrysler was fighting for its life, its president of operations, Bob Lutz, and its vice president of procurement, Tom Stallkamp, brought in 25 of the company’s biggest suppliers and asked for their help in reducing costs. “All I want is your brainpower, not your margins,” Lutz told the suppliers. Buyer-supplier collaboration caught on at Chrysler, thanks to the company’s willingness to share the benefits, and in the ensuing decade, the program (called SCORE, for Supplier Cost Reduction Effort) produced billions in savings” (BCG 2013).

Sometimes the easiest way to allocate savings & profits is to bring suppliers into the conversation rather than cutting suppliers out of the equation.

When it’s all said and done, negotiations and buyer-supplier agreements always come down to 3 areas of discussion and concession:   Time, money, or things.

Negotiations are opportunities to reach a consensus between a buyer and supplier. There is no consensus without compromise, and in negotiations parties often need to give and take.

What are your rules of engagement as a procurement team within negotiations? Do you negotiate to receive saving/cost reduction opportunities at the expense of your suppliers?

Understanding where there are opportunities for compromise, rather than entering with preconceived notions of a necessity for compromise will put you in negotiations where parties are looking to amicably find solutions within the framework of the agreement rather than trying to achieve a victory.

As a buyer & supplier within a new age of negotiation, finding a middle ground, conceding & agreeing within the 3 areas should be a top priority in all negotiations, because shared value is the best kind of value creation.

Enhanced digital capabilities & technology have enabled procurement professionals to bid & negotiate with a whole new level of transparency and visibility into supplier offerings.

A more intelligent age of negotiation is upon us, and it’s important that technology becomes a means to not only negotiate smarter but to procure more responsibly.

Solutions such as Kodiak Rating and others enable merit-based negotiation power; allowing users to gain supplier ratings & analytics to negotiate based upon real compliance and supplier performance. Reward those who award you with service and are well-aligned with working towards a common goal.

Best-of-breed solutions like BidOps and others exist within the space of cognitive/AI-driven negotiation and sourcing.

Application of AI technology within bidding & negotiation gives your procurement teams cognitive capabilities to suggest pricing and timing within negotiations with suppliers.

As the saying goes, 2 heads are always better than one. Mixing Machine Intelligence with Human intelligence = strong category competency and negotiation experience with fact-based bidding trends.

(end of Kodiak excerpt)

Key elements that Kodiak tracks for companies include, but are not limited to:

  • Supplier data properties and attributes
  • Process & Contract compliance
  • Insights from 3rd Party sources
  • Risk updates
  • Notifications and “red flags”
  • Supplier engagement
  • Supplier Performance Evaluation
  • Supplier Ratings
  • Monitoring and Follow-up

There is a lot there, and science and data has become a key part of purchasing decisions for many companies.  We need to be aware that if we are in a room with a small group for a sales presentation, we may in fact get the technical win, but there still may be many roads to cross to attain the actual win-  the purchase order or contract.

The bottom line is that for the most part, everything is tracked these days.  Knowing what is considered on the “other side” will help you in reducing the potential 11th hour loss.

Increasing the Number of Women in Sales

By Misha Bartlett

Even though women make up just over half of the college-educated workforce, they hold less than one-third of B2B sales jobs. According to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, women are underrepresented in B2B sales in most industries.

The B2B sales scene has been changing to favor women in sales. Women’s skills are also becoming more valued in the once male-dominated realm of high-tech sales. 

Today’s digitally-savvy, independent, and more educated buyers have new expectations of salespeople. They expect salespeople to add value beyond what digital tools give. 

Salespeople need to be able to collaborate with customers and shape solutions. Skills like addressing customer needs have become more important than persuasion abilities. And this plays to women’s strengths.

Here are a few ways companies are boosting the number of women in sales:

Diversity-focused recruiting

Many companies are making gender diversity a specific goal for sales recruiting. They are committing to distinct objectives for attracting women. They are making job descriptions more appealing to women by using less masculine language like “aggressive” and “compete” with gender-neutral language such as “customer-focused” and “succeed.” 

Female mentorship programs.

Mentors helped salespeople get acclimated and can answer questions about topics women were hesitant to talk about with their male co-workers.

Better coaching

Companies are working to improve coaching for female salespeople, especially by male mentors. This means they have to break down stigmas for male-female mentorship relationships and ensure that women will get the same objective feedback their male co-workers would.

More promotions for women.

Female-led sales teams had approximately equal numbers of men and women, while male-led teams were more than three-quarters men. Encouraging more women into management and leadership roles is a great way to attract and retain more female salespeople. 

Increase Your New Job (or Promotion) Chances with the CSE Professional Designation

By Matt Mahoney

According to Indeed, the #1 job search and listing website in the world:

“Earning a certification demonstrates your passion and provides evidence of your specific expertise and skills. Including your certifications on your resume can make your job application stand out to potential employers and set you apart from your peers.

Certifications are documents or certificates that are awarded by … associations or boards. Having one of these documents proves that you possess a certain level of professional experience or are proficient in a particular skill…. Certified individuals are considered more qualified for competitive jobs and usually have an improved reputation in their industry.”

We at the North American Association for Sales Engineers couldn’t agree more, and that is why we are offering our Certified Sales Engineer (CSE) certificate to qualified NAASE members.

Sales engineers, and technical salespeople, have typically been left without an option for a professional designation.  That is, until July of this year when NAASE began offering this (non-exam based) Certificate.  The CSE is for professional sales engineers with a minimum level of work and educational experience- regardless of industry or sector.

Again, from Indeed:

“Another good reason to feature your certifications on your resume is if they prove you have acquired years of experience in the industry. Many certifications are only awarded to individuals who have worked a certain number of years as a professional. Listing your certifications can be an efficient way to verify your experience level.”

People do look at professional designations/certifications listed after or near your name.  Recruiters and HR personnel do, of course, but all kinds of other folks view them as well.  In fact, on LinkedIn especially, you really never know who is looking at your Profile.

For more information on either NAASE or its Certified Sales Engineer application, please reach out via our website: www.sales-engineering.org