Daily Archives: November 15, 2011

Want To Keep the Edge in Negotiations? Be Wary of Social Media

Earlier this year SI published a post on Common Negotiation Ploys that will be utilized by your sales counterparts every chance they get to try and gain the upper hand. We warned you that you had to be knowledgeable about each and every single one of these ploys because your sales counterparts, who get weeks of training before they’re even let out into the field in a supporting sales work, will do whatever they can to get the upper hand — and that’s the last thing you want.

In particular, you have to be wary of the

  • Getting to Know You,
  • Making an Impression, and
  • Mirroring

ploys because if you let the sales person become your friend, it will be a lot harder to stay impartial and bring your A-game, as you won’t want to beat him down and, more importantly, you’ll be a lot more likely to fall for the other ploys as you won’t want to believe that he’s trying to play you for the fool.

It used to be that a sales person had to show up, wine you and dine you to get to know you. But now, thanks to social media, he can learn more about you in a few hours of background research than a few months of relationship building, all thanks to online reputation monitoring tools that allow him to gather and review every single piece of data you share on social network sites. If you’re not careful on sites like Facebook and Twitter, the salesperson will know your favourite sport, your favorite team, your favorite wine, and your favorite restaurant and invite you out for an evening discussion of their upcoming product release which will just happen to be at your favorite restaurant, where your favorite wine will be waiting at the table when you arrive, followed by a trip to the ballpark to see your favorite team, at home, square off against their arch rivals. And that discussion will just happen to address how they are going to solve four of the five biggest problems you have, which the sales person will already know.

And while you might think this sounds great, the reality is that your barriers will be weakened because of the comfort level you feel at your favorite restaurant and favorite ball park and then shattered by a discussion of what your problems are. You’ll then believe that the salesperson represents a vendor who actually cares about you and who actually wants to solve your problems when, in fact, the vendor has no intention of changing its roadmap and the “solutions” being spun are not solutions at all but temporary band-aids with weak glue that fall off as soon as they get a little wet. But the story will be so nicely spun, and a discussion of release dates so carefully avoided, that you’ll think the vendor is spinning gold when, in fact, the vendor is melting lead.

And the vendor will know all this because he will have read every tweet you ever made that relates to an interest or like, consumed your Facebook profile and all common threads, monitored every LinkedIn group you were involved in, and reviewed any and every presentation or paper you shared online in the past two years. That’s why, as HP VP Scott McClellan found out earlier this year when he demonstrated the hazard of sharing LinkedIn profiles, you have to be careful what you post on-line. It’s not just your friends who will be following you, but your enemies. And they will be paying MUCH closer attention.