Enhancing Sales Performance Through Negotiation Skills

Business Issue

A large U.S. environmental services company that provides services such as hazardous waste disposal and site cleanup to industrial clients was planning to initiate a new business strategy. Management recognized that the new strategy could have a major impact on customer loyalty. It was essential that their salespeople be able to navigate the price changes and help their clients see added value in the company’s services.


Negotiating to Yes was implemented to strengthen their salespeople’s negotiation skills and successfully institute the price increase while improving customer relationships for future business opportunities. Negotiating to Yes is a negotiation workshop jointly developed by Wilson Learning and Dr. William Ury, coauthor of the bestselling book Getting to Yes. A key premise is the importance of maintaining a balance between meeting the seller’s business objectives and nurturing client relations. Though most salespeople would recognize the value of this balance in theory, many experience difficulty when it comes to achieving it in practice.

According to Dr. Ury, the answer lies in three principled negotiation processes: Aligning People, Exploring Interests, and Reaching Agreement. Negotiating to Yes is designed to teach salespeople these core skills for focusing on business objectives while enhancing client relationships.

This Negotiating to Yes implementation consisted of multiple activities centered on developing and applying negotiating skills. Specifically, the salespeople:

  • Identified specific, important sales opportunities
  • Participated in the Negotiating to Yes workshop, during which they developed negotiation strategies for these sales opportunities
  • Received tips and reminders over a 12-week period to reinforce the use of the skills after the workshop
  • Had one-on-one coaching available to address problem areas and provide support

Top executives and the participants’ managers worked closely with Wilson Learning to ensure that Negotiating to Yes skills were incorporated into participants’ daily work processes and reinforced. This high level of manager involvement, which extended far beyond the two-day training workshop, made a significant contribution to their results.


Negotiating to Yes had a positive impact on the company’s performance. It supported the company’s strategic initiatives and contributed to the increase in salespeople’s productivity.

Results included:

  • 18 sales opportunities completed during the first six months yielded a total value of approximately $5 million. Salespeople attributed roughly $2.6 million, or 53%, of the $5 million to their Negotiating to Yes skills.

Additional outcomes included:

  • Better negotiation outcomes and increased sales revenue
  • Improved client relationships for future business opportunities
  • Better internal staff interaction
  • 95% of participants stated their productivity increased by 11% or more as a direct result of the Negotiating to Yes skills and tools

The skills and abilities that helped this group of salespeople the most in their negotiations were:

  • Stepping back from the negotiation to better understand the client’s perspective and manage their own emotions
  • Separating people problems from the real issues
  • Asking the right kinds of questions in order to identify the underlying issues and concerns
  • Anticipating what clients might do during difficult negotiations and developing alternative sets of actions if the negotiation failed
95% of participants stated their productivity increased by 11% or more as a direct result of the Negotiating to Yes skills and tools.

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