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Q1/2014 Focusing on Interests: Your Sales GPS

In their 1981 book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher and William Ury take a principled approach to negotiating, and give the reader a few key propositions. One of those is the concept of focusing on interests, not positions. In the realm of consultative selling, this proposition is incredibly relevant.

getting-to-yes-180Many in sales become so driven by their own quotas, numbers, and goals, that they forget to take into account the interests of the buyer in their negotiations (a.k.a. objection handling). A process they’ve followed so well in the past is thrown out the window in exchange for urgency and the sloppiness it fosters. Much like driving in an unknown city for the first time without navigation help, failure to consider the interests of others in the sales process can have disastrous results.

So what does “focusing on interests” really mean?

In the A Fluent Vision sales methodology, we talk about the concept of features and benefits. In the context of this discussion, “interests” could very well be synonymous with “benefits.” In other words, it’s the “what’s in it for me” concept. We are all interested in things that benefit us. Whether it be a raise, a shorter route to work, or skipping ahead of three people in line at Disneyland because they’re looking for single rider, if we see a benefit, it’s safe to say, “We’re interested.”


When positioning our solutions, our ability to focus on the benefits, be they financial, personal or otherwise, can directly correlate to our potential for success. By focusing on the personal and ultimate benefits (not to us, but to our prospects) inherent in our solutions, objections become easier to handle. When these objections are overcome, a potential buyer becomes a customer. As we key in on the interests of—or benefits to—our qualified suspects, we shorten the sales cycle. Keeping those interests at the forefront is akin to having the most precise GPS navigation available. You’ll get to your destination, and all parties involved will have enjoyed the ride.

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