Episode #339 – Chris Croft

How to Win—Even with Weaknesses


Chris Croft

Chris Croft is one of the top makers in the world of video training courses.  He  has the top selling Negotiation course in the world on Udemy.com, and his negotiating course on LinkedIn Learning has had half a million learners and has 2000 people viewing it right now.

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Everything depends on preparation. When you’re in a negotiation, you’re under pressure. You need a good plan or all is lost before you start. Planning is often the most neglected part of a negotiation, too. Why? Because salespeople think they can’t plan because they don’t know what the other person will do. They want to go in and “See what happens.” Chris Croft believes that mindset is all wrong. You need a plan—just work in a few ‘what ifs.’

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Why planning and preparation is an important step in negotiation
  • [2:10] The key steps a salesperson should take to prepare for negotiation
  • [8:46] How to “be nice” in a negotiation when you dislike the other person
  • [11:12] The attributes or characteristics that make a great sales negotiator
  • [14:43] Tools and resources to improve your negotiation outcomes
  • [19:53] Chris’s top three negotiation planning dos and don’ts
  • [22:52] You can negotiate from a place of weakness and still win

The key steps a salesperson should take to prepare for negotiation

Chris believes that there are four key categories you need to focus on:

  • Your position: What do you want from a particular deal? Recommendations? Mentions on their website? Payment terms? Then you have to focus on things you can offer them that they deem valuable. Maybe they want free trials, more information, or to be publicized on your website. You need to think through alternatives and focus on your strengths.
  • Their position: What do they want? What do we think they want? What can they offer us? What are the things you can trade? If you have a list prepared, it’s far easier to throw out ideas that aren’t discounted. What are their weaknesses? When you think through their weaknesses, you will feel stronger.
  • The numbers: There are three big numbers—the price you expect to get, your opening offer, and your walk-away point (the lowest number). You have to prepare all three of these numbers. The other thing you need to think about is the value of trade items. What if they can pay in one week versus 90 days? Assign a value to these things.
  • The style: Always be nice, even if you dread or dislike the other person. You’ll get a better deal. But you must also be strong. Walk away if you need to.

If you start by focusing on these areas, you’ll be well prepared for your negotiation.

How to “be nice” in a negotiation when you dislike the other person

Your body language in the first 30 seconds sets the scene for the negotiation. So smile, shake someone’s hand, and look them in the eye when you walk into the room. Sit at a 90-degree angle so you aren’t confronting them. Don’t sit with your arms folded. Be relaxed and smiley.

When you say you need a high price and they say they can’t afford it, don’t point out that they’re cheap or that they don’t understand your value. Instead, say “It’s difficult to get ahold of these things” or “It’s expensive to make this.” Or you could point out the demand for your product or service.

If you’re buying, don’t accuse someone of trying to rip you off. Just point out the reasons you can’t afford something. You blame it on yourself. It’s your problem—not theirs.

The attributes or characteristics that make a great sales negotiator

Self-discipline is important in every aspect of sales and especially negotiation. Sit down, go through your checklist, and prepare. Secondly, you must detach from the outcome and avoid emotional involvement. You’re playing a chess game with your customer. Rather than panicking, think “Well that’s interesting, I didn’t expect that.”

Salespeople think you sell, wait for the customer to say “I love it” and then negotiate. Chris believes that selling and negotiation should happen in parallel. You should negotiate from the start.

You can negotiate from a place of weakness and still win

Chris’s mom saved a voucher for a free stay and gave it to Chris and his wife for a weekend away in Oxford. Right before their trip, they received a message from the hotel saying they were placed in a better room than planned, but they’d have to pay an extra 30 pounds when they arrived.

So Chris decided to negotiate when they arrived at the hotel. So they drove to Oxford and arrived in the evening. When they went in, Chris pointed out that he wasn’t happy about paying the extra 30 pounds. The staff member apologized but said he had to pay it.

So Chris said he wasn’t prepared to pay for it and asked to see the manager. His wife was practically kicking him. The woman said, “I am the manager.” So Chris pleaded one last time, prepared to concede. But the manager waived the 30 pounds. Chris succeeded. He was negotiating from a place of weakness—but so were they. The key was to focus on their weaknesses, not his.

The moral of the story? He should’ve prepared his wife for the negotiation.

Connect With Paul Watts


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Learn More About Chris Croft

Are there any books on or including Storytelling that you recommend? Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher

In the field of Business Story Telling – Who do you most admire and why? Richard Branson is my leadership hero, and his books sow quit a bit of planning and strategy when it comes to his business dealings.  But I think often the bad guys are – unfortunately – better at negotiating.  For example Putin is a great negotiator even though his objectives are inhumane and misguided.  Similarly China is playing a long game with amazing planning and strategy.  We can learn from them, not in what they do but how they do it. 

Are there any aspects of your own Story Telling skills that you are working on improving at the moment? Yes.  I’m quite good at taking enough time but I don’t always prepare enough tradeables, and I tend to be too much of an optimist.

Hobbies, Interests? I love music, both listening to it and playing it.  I play in a rock band and also a jazz band – sax in both.

How can our listeners contact with you? LinkedIn is best, follow me on there, but also my website chriscroft.com has lots of free stuff and a very eccentric blog.

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Sales Reinvented Podcast

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