Can your sales team identify poker players?

A growing trend in procurement today is the ability to play poker. Procurement has learned that by masking their true buying criteria they are able to weaken your sale’s strategy and tactically maneuver you into caving to their discount demands – flatly denying your value and any impact to their business. Significant training dollars are spent every year, equipping procurement in new tactics to increase their success and achieve their discount targets!

Negotiation process begins by assessing buying behaviors

Sellers with a strong backbone learn how to identify the poker players and how to counter the game with tactics to neutralize the playing field for successful negotiations.  So, how do sellers know when a buyer is playing poker?  They learn to watch and listen for behavioral ‘tells’ – evidence that the buyer is about to aggressively play their hand in the negotiation.  Consider the buyer who has been willing to listen to your value message and has provided essential data to calculate the impact your value will have on their business.  Now think about that same buyer mid-way into the sales cycle, switching their focus from the value you will deliver to complaining about the price you are proposing and demanding a discount.  Confusing, right? What you have is a poker player!  In fact, you have a poker player when:

  • The buyer starts to limit your access to information and additional contacts;
  • The decision-maker involves procurement mid-way into the sales cycle;
  • The buyer delays the decision for no substantiated reason.

Gamification in the negotiating process

The good news is it’s all a game and, sellers can learn to more effectively play their role.  Poker players deliberately play the game to acquire high-value products and services for as low a price as you will allow them to get.  The entire game is staged to unnerve the seller into caving to their discount demands.  They wear the costume of the poker player to hide their need for your expertise.  They wear the mask of the poker player to avoid giving you the data you need to substantiate the impact of your value.  So, the call to action for the seller has to be, “Strengthen your backbone and get in the game – learn how to play your role!”  An account manager from a global financial services company recently said, “Once I realized it was all a game, I began to win more profitable deals.”

Call the poker player’s bluff to successfully negotiate the close

How will the poker player react when all the options, terms and conditions and premium services you offer are removed from your proposal?  If they say, “Thank you – that is really all we need,” great, you have satisfied the legitimate needs of a price buyer.  However, if they object loudly and go kamikaze, congratulations, you have called out the poker player, level set the negotiation back to the original buying criteria and you are back in the game.

To hear from Dr. Reed Holden, Founder and Coach, on how to kick the discounting habit and increase business profitability, view this short video: