CJNg _ 2.jpgHi!


    My name is c.j., and here's the March 2008 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, which is also its 1st anniversary!  Thank you for your support all these while.    


    In the mean time, if you'd like to find out how you can Hire, Lead and Motivate Winning Sales Teams, click here (http://www.trainershubcn.com/eflyer.php?fid=635) to catch c.j. in action on 10-11 April 2008 in Shanghai.  Also, stay tuned to our monthly breakfast briefings.  e-mail me info@psycheselling.com if interested.


    Spring is the season that everything starts afresh, including getting more sales from customers.  As such, it is also the time when we all get to negotiate with customers for the best deals.  Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Pressing the Right Buttons in Payment Negotiations; and

  2. Cultivating Key Account Management Best Practices

    This issue's main article is on  "Pressing the Right Buttons in Payment Negotiations", and it shows you how you can see through the ruse of your adversaries, and illustrate their "pain" against them. 


    In brief:

  • Due to the neediness nature of some sales people, they gave in to customers' pressures to delay payments too quickly and too easily;

  • Even in some extreme situations when the odds are stacked against you, you can still gain an edge if you know how to press the right buttons your adversary's well;

  • While we do want to get paid the best prices and still maintain a long term relationship with our customers, there are cases when we need to walk away or risk losing a lot more

    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).


by c.j. Ng


        Imagine that there are 2 key accounts in Shandong, China that have some payment issues.  This time it's not so much price pressures, but rather the incessant delays in paying.  When asked to pay up, or face the cutting of supplies, the 2 key accounts behaved rather differently
        Company A said, "We are barely surviving with whatever we have, and if you cut our supplies, we will go out of business.  By then, you won't even be able to collect a single cent.  Better extend us the credit, give us the regular supplies, and we will pay you whenever we can."

         Company B said, "We are currently the biggest buyer in this region, and if you cut our supplies, we'll gladly change suppliers who are willing to extend to us the credit.  In any case, our company is growing stronger and stronger each day, not to mention that we have the full support of our local government.  You should trust our ability to pay since we are such a big client."

         Typical collection headaches in China, and both needed some level of negotiation. In order to deal with each of them effectively, we'd have to take a closer look.

Do You Feel the "Pain"?

         If you had spent a fairly large amount of blood, sweat and tears to win a deal, gave the best possible prices, ONLY to find that that new customer isn't paying on time, and as such is causing delays in your commission, would that cause some kind of "pain" somewhere?

  Moreover, if the same customer is using threats to walk away from the deal if you don't oblige to their increased credit, would that also add insult to injury for you? 

        Unfortunately, those are the buttons that these customers saw, and they just pressed hard at them, don't they? 


        On the other hand, sales people have also painted a very "painful" picture of themselves in their heads, and hence responded very "positively" to these buttons when pressed.

        This is exactly what Company A tried to achieve, and in most cases, they actually get away with it.  However, if we were to stay calm and think further, we might notice the following:

  1. People who threaten to hurt themselves, tends to remain as threats and nothing more.  Same goes for companies that threaten it will be "put out of business";
  2. Even when companies really have to close down its business, it's going to be a lot more painful for them than it is for the lost sales commission for the sales person

         So here are some suggestions on how we can deal with the likes of Company A:

  1. Press their buttons by gently remind them if they do actually close down their business, their families and loved ones will have to suffer with the indignity and instability of the future;
  2. Assure them that, as trusted partners, we will help them despite immense pressure from management. 
  3. After much haggling with our management, we have manage to continue to supply to them with just a few stipulations:
    • Either we increase the price to cover interest for increased credit time; or
    • Reduce the amount supplied due to higher risks (esp. since the customers claim business isn't good)

         Now the above suggestions may be counter intuitive for the regular sales person.  The above suggests that if we cannot get them to increase prices, we'll have to sell less (that means less commission) to the customer.

        However, if the customer has already committed your products and services into the production of their products, it is unlikely that they can reduce supplies or change suppliers at short notice.  Hence, we should still be able to get favourable terms for the deal.

         Notice also that Company A did not mention anything about giving business to competitors.  That usually is an indication that it's a low priority customer that want low prices and has bad credit standing in the first place.  In my December 2008 issue, I mentioned that the key to good sales negotiations is to eliminate the causes of bad ones.  Such customers are best to be avoided, and if this is not possible, be prepared to press their buttons, because they will push yours.

When You Have to Exert Pressure

         Are there times when customers demand an extended credit line (some as long as 180 days) just simply because there are those big, massive buyers that everybody wants to do business with?  Well, that's still bearable if they pay at the end of those extended credit period.
        Sometimes, some of these companies develop the habit of extending these credit lines indefinitely.  I have personally known of cases where the customer delayed payments by 8-9 months, even when the credit was just 60 days.

        When the seller threaten to cut supplies, they counter the threat by saying they will go to our competitors, AND will use their soaring sales, market share and profits to justify why you need to "kowtow" to them.

         Well, once upon a time, there was a large American company that was unstoppable, its sales and profits were soaring, and most of all, it's got close ties with the White House.  In fact, it was named "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years by Fortune magazine.  Perhaps Fortune was referring to this company's accounting processes, because it was later found to have hidden debts and losses, and was subsequently bankrupt.  Yup, you've guessed it, this company is Enron.

         Now, if a blue-chip company like Enron could just go bankrupt, what are the chances of the cocky Company B in Shandong China to be like-wise?  Well, the bigger the hype, the harder they fall.
         Hence, if we can see through their ruse, here's what you can do to press their buttons instead:

  1. For whatever reasons, Company B is using the hype of its close ties with the local government and strong growth to squeeze suppliers, and even to conquer new markets or win over investors.  What they fear most now, is negative publicity;
  2. You can press Company B's buttons by gently suggesting that you can take the matter to court, to the media, and yes even to the local government.  The resulting impact is their story of being unstoppable may be tainted, and that's going to cause real "pain".
  3. Get Company B committed to a payment schedule, enforceable by cutting supplies and legal action.

         Some will argue that in doing so, we may just lose that customer.  That is definitely true.

         However, a sales deal isn't completed until the payment has been received.  Having a customer who simply takes our products without paying is equivalent to having been robbed, regardless of the financial conditions it is in.   

Standing Up to Customer Tyranny

One may be mistaken that it's only the local companies in China that will use such low-ball techniques to squeeze sellers.  Not quite true.


        A international 4A agency that buys advertisement spaces on behalf of their clients is known to use many low-ball techniques to indefinitely delay payments to the media companies that sell media spaces. 

        The solution?  One media company's account representative was so fed up that she called to tell the end client that their ad has been postponed until payment is received from the 4A agency.  The end client responded that they had paid the agency, and perhaps the media company should deal with them instead.  Our account representative, knowing that negotiating with the agency will be futile, simply responded by, "I'm sorry, I couldn't reach them, but perhaps you can."

         Needless to say, it worked.

         This doesn't mean we should always play hardball with customers.  It just means that in extreme circumstances, we will have to be assertive to make sure we get paid.  If you are unsure whether you need to risk the relationship and be assertive, here are some questions to guide you: 

  • Does the customer have a good previous payment track record?  Could they have run into some difficulties that is causing the delays now?
  • When you probe further, are they willing to discuss possibilities (i.e. mapping out a payment plan which they are committed to)?
  • Are they forthright in their communications with you, and are candid when telling you some of the difficulties they face?

        Indeed, for every customer that is a scumbag, there are many others who are willing to talk if you are sincere in discussing things with them.  They key thing is still remain cool-headed and know which buttons to press.

        In any case, if you would like to gather more insights on how understand your customers' psyche and negotiate better deals, simply e-mail info@psycheselling.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence



Practical Tips for Managers:
Cultivating Key Account Management Best Practices

by c.j. Ng

Key account sales people in China love to emphasize about the importance of Guanxi or relationships when it comes to managing their key accounts.  But is maintaining good relationship the only criteria of gauging good key accounts practice?  And assuming it's not the only criteria, but still an important criteria, at what levels should these relationships be built.

Let's take a look at what are the aspects that HR Chally recommends as optimal key account behaviour:

  • Learn how to meet and interact with your customers' top decision makers.

  • Never take your competitors for granted: they'll usually surprise you.

  • Set realistic goals, and be prepared for the stress of last-minute problems or changes that will come with no warning.

  • Get to work before everybody else does.

  • Know your customers' needs and concerns intimately.

  • Help customers even in areas unrelated to your product or service.

  • Only bend the rules when it’s necessary to service the customer.

  • Remember that competitors may sometimes offer better service.

  • Make sure your customers know when a problem has been solved and that they know you know.

    (Adapted from "The Seven Keys to Managing Strategic Accounts" by Sherman et al, McGraw-Hill, 2003)

As seen from the above, the purpose of building good relationships, is to facilitate the above key areas so as to grow the account. This is of particular importance when you need to interact with top decision makers effectively (not just the implementers), so as to know their needs and concerns intimately.


Hence, if you want to make sure that your key accounts sales people have what it takes to manage those accounts well, you may need to train them how to do so.

However, as both you and I know, training is useless unless the new skills and behaviours are reinforced further.  So here's a check list that you can download to monitor and audit your key account managers and executives. (www.psycheselling.com/KAM Audit.xls)


In the meantime, if you further assistance in boosting your Key Accounts team's performance, whether i the areas of training, coaching or assessing your current and future Key Accounts staff, simply e-mail info@psycheselling.com or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence


About PsycheSelling.com

As you might have heard of them, the most common challenges faced by sales people in any country, and across nearly every industry, are as follow:

  • Unable to resist price pressures;

  • Unable to qualify for the right customers;

  • Unable to generate interest at initial contact;

  • Unable to get to the right people (who may or may not be whom you think);

  • Unable to define the decision making structure of customers;

  • Unable to get customers interested and excited about what you have to offer;

  • Unable to sustain customers’ interest through the sales cycle;

  • Unable to get past clients’ objections and close the sale

  • Spending too much time with proposals that seem to go nowhere

  • Unable to sell deeper to the same customers

Having these concerns in mind, the Psyche-Selling TM is created as a result of 1-to-1 coaching with sales people from a variety of industries across 13 cities in Asia.

Psyche-Selling TM is currently a co-affiliate of the  HR Chally Group, together with  Shi Bisset & Associates, to help you identify gaps in your current sales force, and then formulate ways to help you get better results.

The HR Chally Group is a talent management, leadership development, and sales improvement corporation providing personnel assessment and research services for over 33 years.  Chally is recognised as an international technology leader in scientific assessment and prediction for selection, job alignment and leadership development, and for management assessment.  For more information about implementing Total Quality Sales Management in your company, pls. log on to http://www.psycheselling.com/TQSM-ExecBrief_email.pdf to get more insights.

Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail info@psycheselling.com or visit www.psycheselling.com