By: MIT xPRO on April 8th, 2020
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"Negotiation isn't just Winner-Takes-All" - An Interview with Global Sales Enablement Manager,Erica LeBlanc

Online Education | Professional Development | Leadership

Erica LeBlanc is the Global Sales Enablement Manager for Logi Analytics, a software company that offers integrated development environments for programmers to embed dashboards, visualizations, and analytics into software applications. Although LeBlanc has over a decade of sales enablement experience, and plenty of on-the ground negotiations practice, she was looking for a quick yet comprehensive way to brush up on the latest negotiation techniques from renowned experts in the field.

Erica chatted with us to provide her perspective on the mutual gains approach, and the benefits of learning negotiations online. 

Q: What do you do as a Global Sales Enablement Manager for Logi Analytics?
A: In my role as the global sales enablement manager, I analyze our sales processes to determine what knowledge, tools, and methodologies need to be implemented and adopted by our sales team. I’m also responsible for sales onboarding ensuring our employees ramp quickly and effectively.

Q: How does negotiation fit into your role?
A: A: Sales negotiation isn’t always just about the pricing. For example, negotiations often come up when discussing terms and conditions, marketing testimonials, training and support to name a few. So, it’s important that I’m aware of the latest negotiation strategies, because the business world is always evolving, and I need to be able to provide fresh enablement strategies for our sales team so they can be a more effective partner with our customers. 

Q: Would you say your teams negotiate with larger clients, individuals or a mix?
A: It’s definitely a mix, since the average size of a buying group is seven to eight people. Sales reps may begin a sales deal by negotiating with one individual for their time to participate in a demo and other early product evaluation activities. But eventually, that sales rep will need to persuade the initial buyer to include other people in the buying decision to evaluate a product and have deeper conversations with sales engineers, procurement teams and so on. It’s the sales rep’s responsibility to prove that the time spent evaluating a solution is a productive use of the buying team's time.

Q: How do you think the mutual gains approach has helped you negotiate with international clients and stakeholders?

The mutual gains approach has helped me negotiate with international partners by asking the sequence of questions to find a zone of possible agreement. It's easier to uncover what is valued by each party while creating a meaningful relationship when using the mutual gains approach because the framework helps identify cultural differences and develop a strategy for each negotiation.

Q: What aspects of MIT xPRO’s online negotiations course drew you to it?
A: I have taken negotiation courses and have read different thoughts and theories on negotiation, and I was curious to hear MIT’s approach. It’s fascinating to learn and understand how people interpret and approach negotiations. For me, it was a general curiosity that drew me to the course, but I definitely stayed because the content was worth learning.

Q: What was your first impression when you logged in on the first day of the course?
A: Initial impression: it was very comprehensive. When I saw the different role-plays and exercises, I quickly realized that the xPRO experience wasn’t going to be a passive self-study course, and I would have to be an active participant. 

Q: You have an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill. Do you think this course complements or builds on what you learned during your MBA? Why or why not?

A: The xPRO Negotiations course has definitely complemented what I learned in the Negotiations course at UNC. Studying concepts like BATNA ("Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement") and creating and claiming value was a good refresher. Taking professional education courses like this is always beneficial to keep my professional skills sharp.

Q: As someone with a lot of sales experience, do you feel like the negotiation role-play simulations were good preparation for learners newer to negotiations?
A: I think there’s definitely something for everyone. Participants can take from these role-play simulations what you want or need. But specifically, for new learners, I think the role-plays were a perfect fit and great introduction to negotiations.

Q: What aspects of the course did you find the most challenging?
A: I knew someone who was taking the course, and I partnered with her on the role-play simulations. Had I not known someone that was also taking the class, I think finding a partner would have been the most challenging part. Yet, we did receive a message saying if you were unable to find a partner for the role-play simulations, you could contact the lead instructor.

Q: How do you think a sales professional or someone with an MBA could benefit from a negotiations course?

A: In nearly every sales deal, the buyer expects that price can be discounted or negotiated. Most, if not all, people are buyers before they become sales professionals. I believe that the experience of receiving discounts and couponing has skewed the mindset of sales reps into conceding on price early on during negotiations versus demonstrating the value of the solution to the buyer.

Understanding and practicing the strategies of value creation, which is taught in this course, is beneficial for newer sales reps to learn and is an excellent refresher for more experienced sales professionals.

Q: Those are great takeaways. Thanks for speaking with us today, Erica.

A: It was my pleasure.

Looking for guidance from MIT faculty on how to leverage the Mutual Gains Approach? Join peers from around the globe at MIT xPRO's next online negotiations course, Negotiating to Create Value: The Mutual Gains Approach.