Control vs. Chaos: A Day In the Life of a Sales Rep

Posted by Brian Doyle on Feb 12, 2019 2:10:12 PM
Brian Doyle

If you’re a fan of the 1960s television show, Get Smart (or saw the 2008 movie with Steve Carrell), you know that the good guys work for Control and the bad guys work for an organization called KAOS (pronounced, “Chaos”). As a pricing or finance leader, it sometimes feels like this reflects your life as well: you're trying to maintain control over your pricing and profit, but too many times when a negotiation is left in the hands of your sales rep, it turns into chaos.


Unlike Get Smart, however, control and chaos don’t have to be discrete opposites. By equipping your salespeople with the right knowledge and tools, they will be able to manage the chaos themselves, protecting your pricing and profit.

Here are just a few examples of the knowledge and tools they need to properly balance control vs. chaos:

Understanding and Articulating Your Value

If you can’t prove and articulate your value to your customer, you’re in the fastlane to chaos. You say your product or service should cost $100 and your customer thinks it should cost $80. Without proving your value, it’s your word against theirs with the only benchmark being what your competitors charge. And I hate to break it to you, but at least one of your competitors has a lower price than you do. When your customer asks your sales rep to drop your price to $80 and they can’t make a good argument for why it should be $100, they typically provide the discount.

However, when sales reps are educated on the value of your product and how to convey that value to customers, the conversation is entirely different. My experience has been that when sales reps have the tools to quantify their product’s value (in dollars) and value messaging to share with their customers, profit margin goes up an average of 8%.1 Less chaos, more control.

Buyer Types

Another essential tool in protecting price, is understanding your Buyer Types. In Negotiating with Backbone, Reed Holden told us about the four Buyer Types and how often times a buyer who cares mostly about value or relationship will masquerade as a price buyer. (Reed calls those buyers “Poker Players). When sales reps quickly identify what Buyer Type they’re dealing with, they can control the conversation more easily. They understand what matters most to buyers (even if the buyers are pretending it’s something else) and can pull the right levers for a winning negotiation strategy.


Lastly, for now at least, sales reps need tools for protecting your profit even if the customer really does have a smaller budget. Suppose your customer only has $80 to spend and while loving your product, just can’t go any higher. That’s where Give-GetsSM come in. By creating thoughtful Give-GetsSM with your sales team before the negotiation begins, you can feel comfortable empowering them to subtract valuable aspects of the product in order to lower the price. For instance, your sales rep can say, “I understand you can only spend $80 and I can make that happen. I’ll just need to remove the service package that goes along with the product.” A clear, delineated subtraction of something of value that lowers the price. If the customer agrees, great – you’ve maintained your profit margin. If they still want everything, you now have an indication that your customer might be playing poker with you and really has a budget greater than $80.

By training your sales reps to clearly articulate your value, identify their Buyer Types and skillfully negotiate with easily-understood tools, you can take back control of your pricing and profit without being involved in every deal. You’ll also close more, and more profitable, deals.

And you’ll never have to worry about one of your sales reps quoting Maxwell Smart by saying to you, “Sorry about that Chief,” when they discount away your profit.

Get started now in building your selling tool set:

Download the Give-GetsSM Overview


1.  "The Power of Pricing" by Michael V. Marn, Eric V. Roegner, and Craig C. Zawada

Topics: Negotiating with Backbone