Bob Gibson, CEO of Negotiating Wisdom, joins us in a National Advisor Showcase segment to talk about negotiating and how his company can train sales teams or prepare your company for a high-impact negotiation.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the Web site. 844-814-8144 is our twenty four hour call in line. Get your calls in, we’re going to get the experts in here to get those questions answered. Every once in a while we get some really smart guys that come to Texas to talk to CEO’s. We call this our National Adviser’s Showcase. And we have a negotiation expert that came in all the way from San Francisco, California. Hopefully, the fires didn’t affect you too bad. But we are going to talk negotiation with our national adviser in here today. I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry had to step out for a minute. He’s going to join us here shortly. In the co-host chair is George Walden, my business partner. George what do you think?
George Walden: Well, I had the privilege of attending a seminar, it was about effective executive negotiations by Robert Gibson. And I found myself going, well, I think I’m a really good negotiator and this guy just showed me how very little I actually know about negotiation.
Matt Register: Showed you how wrong you were. Right?
George Walden: Right. So I’ve got to say this, if you’re, if you’re going into negotiation, you need to have this man at your side. He needs to be a part of your team. If you’re going to have a sales team that needs help with getting better, you need to have this guy on your team.
Matt Register: Yeah. No doubt about that. Bob Gibson is the President of Negotiating Wisdom. I attended that same conference and I am a cynical guy and not easily impressed. And I’ll tell you what, I was blown away and have a whole lot more tools in my toolbox now when I am negotiating. Bob Gibson, welcome to the show sir.
Robert Gibson: Thank you, it’s good to be here.
Matt Register: So, talk to me about Negotiating Wisdom. What do you do and who do you do it too?
Robert Gibson: Well, the thrust of our business actually, is in two areas. We coach negotiating teams to be more effective and we do a lot of training. I work with a lot of sales teams and we do this all over. We work here, Europe, Asia, the Middle East. We’ve done this in 20 countries in the last 20 years.
Matt Register: Well, there’s a couple of instances where you would come in handy. Right? With a company. One of them is the sales force training.
Robert Gibson: Yes.
Matt Register: Teaching sales teams how to be more effective in their sales. But the other one is companies that have big, you know, one time, high impact negotiations. You can come in there and help them build a, a team to go solve that problem. Correct?
Robert Gibson: Right. A functioning team. I find that when people are in situations like that, a few things occur over and over. One, they don’t often have the right people on the team. Secondly, the team isn’t prepared. You would be amazed at how many teams get on a plane and fly to a business meeting and work out strategy on the plane. That’s a blueprint for disaster.
Matt Register: For hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions. Right?
Robert Gibson: Big deals. Big deals. And it’s because they’re busy and they’re intelligent and they’re usually pretty aware of their intelligence. But that’s not a replacement for a negotiating team that’s been prepared.
Matt Register: Well, I tell you what, as a former Infantry Officer in the Army, I understand planning out an operation. Right? And see the, understand the value of understanding exactly what it is you’re going to do and having it planned out. And that’s your approach, when you’re talking about some of these big deals. Walk me through a little bit, about what you do. Because I saw a, we were talking during the break. A lot of similarities between how you plan for these big, big transactions, big, big negotiations and military operations planning.
Robert Gibson: Yeah. Well, when you find the team and you finally get the right team. They need to know; what’s going to happen, what are we going to be hit with. They need to be to the point that nothing surprises them. So we sit down and do strategy sessions. Where we say; what are you after? What would you like to walk away from here with? What are they going to hit you with? When they hit you with it, how are we going to respond? Who’s responsible for what? If they ask for questions in this area, is that your baby? Is that your baby? So they need to be very clear on their roles, whether they’re playing shortstop or first.
Matt Register: Sure.
Robert Gibson: Whether a catcher or a pitcher, they need to be completely prepared. And we’ve reached a point where and this is fun, down at the end, we’ll pick a team from inside the company to beat the other party and they’ll really beat them up.
Matt Register: I mean war play, war game and that’s role play.
Robert Gibson: Absolutely. The truth is I put teams through worse scenarios than, than life ever does. But the result of it is when they get through, they’re ready and they do a good job and we come up with great results in the negotiation.
Matt Register: Well, a big part of this… And I found this very, very interesting. And in your seminar you were talking about, know the other side of the table, know your enemy. Right? Know exactly how it is they operate. Know what’s important to them. Know what, what triggers them and understand, craft your strategy around their personality. Right?
Robert Gibson: Yes. You have to know the drivers of those other parties. And that’s not that hard to find anymore because you can do due diligence and research on things like LinkIn, online. Good information on executives is easier to find today than ever.
George Walden: You’re right.
Robert Gibson: And once you get…
George Walden: You’re absolutely correct. I never go into a meeting without looking the person up. And normally, I know exactly what’s going on with their business and their backgrounds.
Robert Gibson: Good for you.
George Walden: Their college education. It’s fascinating the information that’s available today.
Matt Register: Absolutely.
Robert Gibson: Wow. By looking at all of that and putting some mental work in on it. If that’s how they got there, what, what process did they use? You can come up with a pretty good idea of what’s driving them today and you’ll be right most of the time.
Matt Register: Well and just having an understanding of what is important to them, what are the drivers of their decision making, can change everything you do about your approach on how to get what you want our negotiation.
Robert Gibson: Right. If you’re dealing with somebody who’s driven by power, that’s a very different animal than someone who just wants to look good. If you’re dealing with someone who has a need to be liked, that’s a very different animal than someone driven by competition. So your strategy is going to be very different based on that.
Matt Register: Now, when you deal with sales teams.. You know I’ve, I have had a lot of salesmen, I’ve hired a lot of salesmen and salesmen are kind of a different animal. Right?
Robert Gibson: Yes.
Matt Register: They, they, they very much have a need to be liked. They very much, can sometimes be their worst enemy when it comes to profitability of products they’re trying to sell. How do you train these guys to operate differently than they’re hardwired sometimes, right?
Robert Gibson: Well, you’re right. The truth, I was working with a sales team not long ago and the sales manager was a great guy. And he told me, he said “Bob”. He said “I’ve got to tell you”. He said “My sales team, their greatest strength is that they are people, people”. And he thought a minute and he said “You know, their greatest weakness is that their people, people”.
Matt Register: That’s right.
Robert Gibson: And he was right on both counts. They’re great people. They connect with people but they tend to give away too much, too fast. They need tools. They need to understand their natural tendencies and have tools to counter that. Then they need to practice those and ingrain those and that’s doable. Negotiation is a skill just like playing an instrument or playing tennis and it can be taught. And if you worked at it, you can improve.
Matt Register: Well, no, no, doubt about that. You know, like I said before, I’m a skeptical guy. I walked in there, I mean, I’m a pretty decent negotiator, negotiate almost every day. And you know our line of work in mergers and acquisitions is kind of what we do. And I learned more out of that few hours, in that seminar, than I have in quite some time. So I’m going to tell you, if you have a sales team that needs some training, these are definitely the guys. And especially if you have a major game changing deal. I can’t imagine, I don’t like fair fights. I like very, very lopsided fights. And this is certainly a way to ensure that you walk into that negotiation and the scales are in your favor. Right?
Robert Gibson: Well said. Yes.
Matt Register: So how does the training, give me a quick idea of the format of it. Do you travel to the company? Is this a week long process? A day long process?
Robert Gibson: Most of our training is onsite. Which means I’ll go to them, they’ll bring people in and we’ll train them. All of it is customized. Where instead of talking about something in an academic, theoretical way, it’s customized for their situation. We talk about things that they want to walk away from. The swap outs that they’ll have, the nibbles that they encounter. So the training they get is very specific. And in our best programs, we train them for a day, they go out in the field for 30 days where they have access to me through e-mail and phone. And then we bring them back together and do it again. And when they bring them back together, that’s when it goes from here, down to here.
Matt Register: Yeah, I mean…
Robert Gibson: That’s when they internalize the work.
Matt Register: And now they understand what questions to ask. Right? Because at the beginning they’re kind of taking it in. They don’t know necessarily, until they go out, try it out in field, what…
Robert Gibson: That’s true.
Matt Register: What the reaction to it is going to be. Right?
Robert Gibson: It’s not just understanding that they can actually do it. Yeah. They can understand it at first, they know it. But knowing something and being able to execute it under pressure, that’s a different animal.
Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about that. Bob Gibson is the President of Negotiating Wisdom. What’s the easiest way for somebody to get in touch with you, should they want to?
Robert Gibson: By a rare coincident, my phone number is 415-517-8150.
Matt Register: All right. Great. We will have that phone number as well as… negotiatingwisdom.com is the Web site. We will have a link right there from Texasbusinessradio.com. If you’re driving and can’t take notes. I got it. This is really good stuff. Bob, Thank you very much for joining us.
Robert Gibson: Thank you. I enjoyed it.
Matt Register: We however, have to pay a couple of our own bills. We’re going to be back right after this with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.