Sales Negotiations to Improve Close Rates and Revenue

Improve Close Rates and Revenue at a Services Firm

Client Case Study

Situation

Livingston International is Canada’s leading customs broker and trade-related services company facilitating two-way trade in the busiest trade lane in the world — the Canada-U.S. border. Every day, approximately $1.3 billion worth of goods flows back and forth between the two countries.

With more than 60 years of experience and approximately 1,700 employees in over 70 offices at key border points and other strategic locations in Canada and the United States, Livingston serves an impressive list of Fortune 500 clients. At the time of this study, Livingston International cleared an average of 12,900 shipments a day into Canada and the United States, up from about 5,000 a day in 1996. In early 2006, Livingston acquired their largest competitor and has more than doubled their business from a market share of 12% to approximately 30%.

Operating in a highly fragmented and price sensitive market, Livingston faced the prospect of selling superior services at a premium in a “commoditized” market. The net result was a reduction in win rates, declining average deal size, a downward pressure on margins and an increase in customer retention issues.

 

Complications

A formal Sales Negotiation Needs Analysis with the client identified the following circumstances contributing to these issues:

  • More sophisticated buyers
  • Insufficient analysis or preparation for deals
  • A history of “giving away” value

  • A good sales process in place but no negotiation process to support it

  • Functional areas acting like silos, each with its own goals and expectations

  • Lack of process implementation and reinforcement

Approach

In order to address these issues, we recommended a cross-functional, organization-wide Sales Negotiation Solution.  We recommended a holistic approach because we know that it greatly increases the likelihood of sellers being able to achieve their business goals while establishing and maintaining successful long-term relationships with their customers.

  1. Defining a common organizational negotiation strategy linked to the company’s sales strategy
  2. Agreeing on a common negotiation process integrated with the existing sales process including:
    • Developing deal strategies with Marketing, Canadian and/or U.S. Client Services and/or Consulting prior to presenting offers.
    • Presenting three Multiple Equal Offers with every trial close.
    • Submitting Strategic Negotiation Worksheets for every deal over $10,000.
    • Implementing the negotiation strategy and process in Performance Appraisals.
    • Trading things of equal or greater value and no longer simply concede items.
  3. Coaching process implementation
  4. Measuring results

Results
In twenty four months for 1,148 deals:

  • 72% increase in Close Ratio
  • 142% increase in New Clients
  • 21% increase in Annual Sales
  • 5x increase in average deal size

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