October 2015
Raphael Lapin

Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation-Avoidance Specialists Since 1995

10940 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, Suite 1600
Tel: 888-964-8884
Dear Clients and Friends,

Incorporating Effective Negotiation Techniques to Transform your Sales  

Boost your sales performance  by understanding the difference between conventional selling approaches and our Investigative Sales approach  in this October  '15 edition of N EGOTIATION STRATEGIES. 
For your reading convenience, we also distill this into a brief lessons learned at the end of the column.
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With Best Wishes 
Raphael Lapin
Incorporating Effective Negotiation Techniques to Transform your Sales 
Conventional Sales

[Note: For the purpose of this column, "selling" is not limited to the sale of products and services, but includes any sphere of persuasion and influence that we all encounter during the course of our work and jobs. Examples may be selling of ideas, persuading our teams to accept new ways of operation or to influence our organizations to adopt new equipment and technology in the face of heavy resistance]

Many people perceive sales as a process which is separate and distinct from negotiation. To be sure, they understand that once a sale is achieved, negotiation follows so as to agree on various terms and conditions, but they do not see negotiation as part and parcel of the initial sales process.

As a result, they see a sales meeting as an opportunity to "sell" themselves and "pitch" their products or services. They allow themselves to launch into a monotonous monologue about their expertise, successes and how their products or services will realize every dream of the potential customer. They become so absorbed in their enthusiastic rhetoric, that they fail to notice the visual cues that convey utter boredom and lack of interest on the part of their prospective customers. They are quite oblivious to the fact that in all probability, they have already lost them. Sound familiar? 
The Preferred Alternative - Investigative Selling

The first principle in Investigative Selling™ is to recognize that when prospective customers feel imposed upon and pressured, they will likely push back and resist with equal and opposite force. To avoid this, we need to, figuratively speaking, walk alongside them rather than face and confront them. They should feel like collaborative partners and joint-problem solvers, rather than suspicious adversaries. 

To achieve this, we must engage them in productive dialogue. This means asking well-crafted questions and listening skillfully, as opposed to talking incessantly! The more we can encourage them to talk about their fears, concerns, dreams and expectations, the more information we will have and the more effectively we can respond.

In addition, the prospective customer will feel like an equal partner rather than an inferior subordinate. As such, they will  be an active participant in the process with a sense of ownership in the outcome. This approach is essentially the application of negotiation principles, skills and techniques to the sales process.
Investigative Selling in Practice

In the conventional sales approach, while attempting to win over a new customer, you might find yourself trying to impress them with  all the product features, while you  preach about why this particular product is the perfect panacea for all their problems. Everything seems to be perfectly aligned as you begin to feel quite proud of your salesmanship and performance.

However, that euphoric feeling is abruptly shattered when the prospective customer unexpectedly asks: " So tell me why I should consider you over the other hundred salespeople who approached me over the last couple of weeks with what appears to be equally good products with very competitive prices?"

You suddenly feel as though you have been punched in the stomach and all the wind taken from you. You waver on the precipice of another failed sales attempt as you try to regain your balance. You feel quite nauseous as you try to stammer and splutter yourself back to equilibrium.

In a conventional sales approach you might persist in holding forth about the success of this product and the satisfaction experienced by other customers. But besides boring the prospective customer with mindless monologues, this seldom works because you are not engaging the them.

In an Investigative Sales™ approach rather than preaching and pitching, you will unleash and exploit the power of effective questioning. You might respond to the customers resistance with: "That is a very fair question. Tell me, what standards, measures or criteria would be important to you in choosing one particular product over another?"

With this approach you have put the ball back in their court, so to speak, and regained control of the conversation. Additionally, you have engaged them in a discussion that will provide you with important and useful information. Furthermore, by engaging them in this way you are building trust and rapport.

They may respond for example, that what is really important to them, is a strong support service and a highly effective training program in the use of the new product. 

You will then apply your negotiation skills further as you pursue the line of questioning by perhaps asking: " What would the components of 'a strong support service' be, and what might be the benchmarks of 'a highly effective training program' that you would like to see?"

With this Investigative Selling™ approach, you are now better equipped to propose and negotiate solutions that address the customers true need in a very effective and authentic way. 

To manage this process fluently and seamlessly requires awareness, discipline and practice. As in any skill. the more you practice, the better you will become, and in time you will notice that you are able to respond to all challenging situations effectively, with composure and grace.  

About1About Lapin Negotiation Services


Lapin Negotiation Services offers training, consulting, advising and executive coaching in negotiation, business diplomacy and dispute resolution services.


Our proprietary and aggressively results oriented services are designed to help your leadership, teams and individuals master the essential negotiation, relationship-building and conflict management skills that increase revenues, decrease the high cost of conflict  and build  strong working relationships .

Our skilled specialists will:
  • Help your organization build a highly effective negotiation competency and culture which translates into increased revenue and strong business relationships.
  • Train and prepare your sales teams for sales presentations
  • Develop high impact, customized learning systems to develop advanced skills and powerful techniques in negotiation, dispute resolution and relationship management.
  • Provide advice, strategy, guidance and representation in live negotiation challenges
  • Facilitate, mediate and advise in dispute resolution
  • Create a culture of collaboration by guiding and training teams and divisions to engage in dialogue, to negotiate and to partner
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Raphael Lapin

Raphael Lapin, a Harvard trained negotiation and communication specialist. He is adjunct professor of law at Whittier School of Law in Southern California and visiting professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Raphael trains and advises Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world and is the author of "Working with Difficult People" (DK Penguin Essential Managers Series)
Working with Difficult People
 Learn more about Raphael Lapin's book, "Working with Difficult People" by clicking on the image above