On April 9, Mike presented at the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, DC on the topic:  Negotiating E-content & Tech Licenses

Mike was  joined by Richard P. Hulser, Chief Librarian, Research & Collections, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
By setting clear goals and expectations, information professionals can make the most of the meeting and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the content sales people. Get tips from a long-time salesperson, supporter of libraries, and recent author and from a librarian who has been on both sides—sales and purchase!


Mike and Colleagues Present a Valuable Program at This Years’ Charleston Conference


Mike Gruenberg along with Matt Dunie, President of Data Planet and Amelia Brunskill, Electronic Resources Librarian at DePaul University presented a program: Negotiating Tactics: Secrets from Both Sides of the Table at the Charleston Conference in November,2012.


Whether you are negotiating for new content or for an external vendor service, the outcome of these negotiations can vary considerably. The session explored both the library and vendor perspectives on what information and tactics can help ensure a more successful outcome for the negotiation process.

Ms. Brunskill presented a number of examples to illustrate what financial, and other, benefits can be achieved through negotiations. She discussed how an information professional can tailor their approach to a negotiation for a given product and provided suggestions for librarians who are new to the negotiation process.

Mike and Matt provided valuable insights into the vendor’s business model and its impact on the negotiation and provided some tips and tools on how to reduce surprises and achieve increased return on product investment with a better understanding of vendors’ motivations.

Negotiation Skills WEBEX for Librarians

October 8th, 2012 by Michael Gruenberg


On September 19th, Mike conducted a WEBEX for SLA with Matt Dunie on Negotiating Skills with Vendors.  The title of the program was What Vendors Don’t Tell You When Negotiating Content and Technology Licenses.

We spoke to approximately 60 information professionals from the U.S., Canada and Europe.

 Description of the program:

Libraries purchase, license, lease or otherwise acquire all sorts of services from a variety of vendors. Whether the library is negotiating for content from a publisher or acquiring new technology or services from outside or related affiliate organizations, the staff responsible for budget and negotiations can ensure better results in terms of price and performance if they are armed with more knowledge, strategies, and tactics. The end result is more efficiency in a pressured budget situation, more clarity in products and service deliverables, reduction in renewal surprises, and increased competition among vendors which yields better products.

Information professionals are expected to negotiate with an array of vendors in relation to content, technology, equipment, terms & conditions, licensing, training and price. This session will help info pros understand the intricacies of the vendors’ business model including cost structure, sales costs and product implementation. 

Critical Learning Questions:

How can I be better prepared for the next negotiation?

What are the vendor’s business objectives, and how can I use that information in negotiations?

What external resources can help in the negotiation process?

Who does what, and why?

How can I sharpen my negotiation skills?

Who Should Attend?

Librarians and information professionals who interact with vendors, those who are responsible for negotiating on behalf of their information center or organization, and anyone who would like to be better informed about the negotiation and service/product implementation process.

Mike Gruenberg  just completed an assignment for a client who wanted to make export/import data available for University libraries and faculty members. Through market surveys and sales calls to key academic libraries, we determined that there is a need for reliable export/import data for students studying International Business. The new product was launched at the SLA meeting in Chicago in July 2012.

Datamyne to Debut New Product Version for Libraries at SLA 2012
Miami – July 15, 2012 – Datamyne announced that a new version of its Datamyne 2.0 trade data product, designed expressly for academic and business libraries, will be unveiled at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Conference & Info-Expo in Chicago, July 15 – 18.
The world’s largest searchable trade database, Datamyne is a top provider of information on cargo, markets and trading partners in the US, Latin America, EU and strategic markets in Asia and Africa.
“The SLA Info-Expo is the ideal setting to introduce Datamyne’s Libraries edition,” says Brendan McCahill, Datamyne’s CEO. “We’ve gathered more than 800 million records of cross-border transactions into a database that is easy to access, search and analyze for insights into trade patterns, market trends, economic cycles and industries’ performance.
“We’re thrilled to present our import-export data product to the information resource professionals of the SLA. We think they will appreciate its potential as a dynamic tool for academic and business research.”
Datamyne 2.0 for Libraries provides: authoritative, current, detailed data on the imports and exports of 49 countries (currently – the database continues to expand) historical data from previous years, for some countries as far back as 1996.
Datamyne Profiles, including business demographics, company background and trading activities, of companies engaged in US import trade; a range of tools for analyzing search results (including the ability to query, rank, filter, drill down, and total) and generating reports for download.
Datamyne is not only a primary source of vital market data for the global trade and transport sector, but a recognized provider of commercial intelligence for key vertical industries, such as energy, chemicals, ingredients, food and beverage, and commodities traders.
“Datamyne 2.0 for Libraries is the culmination of many years of practical application and refinement in business decision-support and economic research,” McCahill adds, “now in an easy-to-use version accessible to business students, academic researchers, policy makers and planners.”
Datamyne will be demonstrating 2.0 for Libraries at SLA 2012 Info-Expo Booth 2B.

About Datamyne
Founded in 1992 with the aim of clearly and accurately documenting import-export transactions in the Americas, Datamyne has since claimed a top-ranked position in the highly competitive US market for trade data.
Datamyne today offers the best value in business intelligence: easy access, with expert support, at an affordable price, to the world’s largest searchable trade database. Built and maintained by an international team, Datamyne covers the cross-border commerce of some 50 countries on 5 continents.
Learn more at www.datamyne.com.
Contact: Lisa Wallerstein
Vice President of Marketing, Datamyne


 Program Description

Companies spend millions of dollars building booths, shipping expensive equipment to far-away cities, hosting events  and sending their personnel to trade shows throughout the world. Given the current economic conditions, many companies are wondering if attending these shows is really worth the expense.

Presenter Mike Gruenberg has attended countless trade shows both as a Senior Sales Executive and has been responsible for planning events at these shows, as well. Join us for the webinar Trade Shows – Ensuring  A Successful Event For Your Company; How To Achieve A Favorable ROI Using Simple and Effective Procedures. and make your conference experience a success. In this presentation, Mike will discuss the following:

Learning Objectives

  • Pre-Show Preparation  and Planning – Who’s going and why? What are the corporate goals and objectives? How is Marketing working hand-in-hand with Sales?
  • At the Show – Trade show etiquette; strategic placement of personnel at booth; role of senior executives at the show
  • After the Show – Acknowledging staff effort, reviewing results; understanding what was done right and what needs to be improved

Workshop given at METRO New York Library Council

May 8th, 2012 by Michael Gruenberg

The New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association,

in cooperation with  the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO),


Librarian/Vendor Relationships-

What Every Librarian Needs to Know When

Preparing for a Salesperson’s Visit

Presented by Mike Gruenberg

May 3 2012

Organized by Laura Forshay, METRO 

As Librarian’s gain increased professional experience, it’s not
unusual for them to become responsible for other decisions
concerning software and content and other business services.  This
isn’t a skill covered in the graduate education. Learn how to
approach those meetings outside your professional experience and
ensure that you securing the right information to support these
important new decisions.

In this workshop, Mike Gruenberg, a sales executive with 34  years of

experience selling successfully to libraries throughout the world, will

review the expectations of both the librarian and salesperson and by

doing so will impart knowledge necessary for librarians to have a

greater understanding of the sales process and how to be fully

prepared for the sales call.

All librarians who interact with salespeople should attend.

What Every Librarian Needs to Know When A Salesperson Visits Your Library

Planning for and Managing a Sales Call

By setting clear goals and expectations for a sales call, information professionals can make the most of the meeting and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the salesperson.


Library schools, like many other professional studies programs, do their best to try to prepare students for the rigors of the profession. The syllabi of many professional school programs, however, are mostly theoretical in nature and don’t address the experiences students will face when working in their chosen profession.

I recently looked at the courses offered for an MLIS degree at an accredited U.S. school of library and information science. This particular institution, Kent State University in Ohio, expects its graduates to be able to perform the following tasks:

  1. Analyze the changing cultural, educational and societal roles of librarians and information professionals and the place of the library and information in society.
  2. Select, acquire and process information resources for libraries and other information agencies.
  3. Interpret and effectively utilize general and specialized information sources and bibliographic tools.
  4. Organize and describe information materials in a manner that will facilitate and  enhance utilization of resources.
  5. Interpret and apply basic management principles to decision making in librarianship.
  6. Describe advances in technology pertinent to the acquisition, organization and  dissemination of information and apply this knowledge to libraries and      other information agencies.
  7. Analyze, evaluate and conduct research in the field of librarianship and relate findings to the solution of problems in the profession.
  8. Analyze the information needs and use patterns of specific user populations, the role of the library in the information transfer process and the design of information services to meet user needs.

These are all good skills, and they are certainly well understood by everybody who reads this magazine. However, one of the basic duties of an information professional is working with people who provide the data that are used to respond to questions that are asked every day. I suspect there are few, if any, library schools that offer a course titled “Understanding the Salesperson 101.”

Whether you are working in a corporate or nonprofit environment, you will be responsible for ensuring that the money spent on buying library databases is invested wisely. Before any dollars are approved to be spent, you should be familiar with the products that will meet your needs–their capabilities, their ease of use, and, of course, their price. Even more importantly, the organization needs to have confidence that you will conduct a thorough investigation before selecting and buying any product.

The salesperson, meanwhile, has an interest in making sure that the partnership with the information professional fulfills the above-mentioned objectives. In essence, the salesperson and the librarian should have a unique relationship that produces results that are acceptable, reasonable and cost-effective for both parties.

My first job, more than 30 years ago, was selling subscriptions on microfiche of documents filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission by public companies. Not exciting subject matter to me, but apparently it was relevant information for corporations, law firms, universities, and public libraries.

One day, I made a sales call at the corporate library of AT&T. The librarian told me she was teaching a course at the library school that night at Rutgers University, and she asked me to come in and speak about public company information. That evening began a journey that took me to library school classes at Columbia University, C.W. Post College, Rider College, the University of Maryland, and other academic institutions over a 34-year period.

Initially, I spoke about public company information–what was included in the documents and how that information could be used at business libraries–but more often than not, the students asked questions about what they could expect when working with salespeople. Subsequently, the AT&T library person and I developed a program wherein the two of us spoke regularly to library school classes on how the vendor and the information professional can work together.

Preparing for the Sales Call

A sales call to a library is the result of careful planning. Salespeople are taught that time is money and that time wasted is time that can never be brought back. The most successful salespeople are those who use time wisely. So if a sales rep calls your library, you can assume that she has researched your library and concluded that, at the very least, her company has a product that should complement your collection and meet your needs.

The librarian’s responsibility in preparing for the sales call is to schedule a convenient time for the two of you to meet. It is preferable to meet away from the Reference Desk so that the time spent together is uninterrupted. The information professional also needs to be familiar with products that are similar to the one(s) that will be presented.

To make the meeting as productive as possible for both parties, the information professional should ask for an agenda from the salesperson in advance. Say something like this: “Mary, we are very busy at the Information Center and my time is valuable, as is yours. What do you want to discuss with me, since I only have 45 minutes to speak with you on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. next week?” This way, you are setting the tone, clarifying the objectives, and confirming the time and date. Both of you will benefit if you take this extra step.

Determining Your Needs

A sales call should take no longer than 45 minutes to an hour. The first 5-10 minutes should be devoted to getting to know one another. If the rep has visited with you before, those minutes will be spent reviewing past meetings and just catching up. If the salesperson opens her laptop at the beginning of the meeting, you can bet she’s more interested in getting across her points than listening to you and assessing your needs.

The next half hour should be spent ascertaining what you need to make your library’s holdings more effective. I always liken this part of the call to how a doctor’s visit unfolds. When you go to the doctor, he inevitably asks, “Where does it hurt?” or “What brought you in here today?” You respond by describing the maladies that are responsible for your visit.

Much the same holds true in a library sales call. The salesperson’s responsibility is to find out where you are feeling the “pain” of unsatisfied information retrieval. In this phase of the call, the rep is the “information doctor” and should probe to find out where there is pain, then offer a solution that will stop the pain.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there should be a review of outstanding items for both parties. No sales call should end without a review of the “to do” items tied to specific dates.

Your responsibility at this point in the sales call is to answer the questions honestly. Let the rep know what is working and what isn’t. Sometimes a competitor’s product does a better job, and that feedback will allow the salesperson to go back to the product development people at her company and help them develop a better offering. Conversely, if you love the products from her company, say so. Salespeople like to know when a customer is satisfied.

You also have a responsibility to your library at this point, which is to conduct market surveillance. This is the part where you get to ask the questions. “What’s going on at your company, Ms. Sales Rep? What’s this rumor I heard about your company being active on the acquisition front? I heard …” These are appropriate questions to ask, because it’s important for you to know about the company that is providing data to your library. After all, it’s not just a partnership between you and the sales rep–it’s also a partnership between your library and the rep’s company.

Wrapping Up the Sales Call

The last 5-10 minutes of the sales call is the “wrap-up” portion. The salesperson will review what you said and give a brief demonstration of the product discussed during the assessment portion of the meeting. Watching the demo is your choice, so don’t waste the salesperson’s time if you have no intention of purchasing the product. On the other hand, if there is genuine interest and a trial is warranted, this is the time to clarify all the elements of the trial. You need to understand what product is being trialed, determine the length of time designated for the trial, and arrange for any training that is needed.

This is also the time for price to be introduced into the conversation. If you are enthusiastic about the product, this is the best time to talk about cost. On the other hand, it may also be the right time to postpone that discussion. Over the years, I have seen too many lost sales opportunities because the information professional pushed for a ballpark cost–“Can I just have a 30-day trial to try it out”? or “Just give me a rough idea of what this will cost me”–and the rep felt compelled to answer rather than probe more deeply to determine how serious the potential client really was and better understand the budgetary restrictions of the library.

If you are enthusiastic about the product, then it’s time for the rep to confirm that the product can meet the needs of your library. The salesperson may say, “Based upon your answers, I can offer you this particular database at this cost.” It’s up to the salesperson, based on information you provided earlier in the discussion, to ascertain if that cost is reasonable to you. The rep also needs to know who has the decision-making authority at the library, if the library’s budget can pay for the product sooner rather than later, and the length of the decision-making cycle.

Your responsibility at this point is to inform the rep of the process for making buying decisions at that institution. “Yes, we like your product and I can see a very good use for it, but our fiscal year begins in July and we can only buy your product in August of this year.” Salespeople have heard statements like that before and are trained to follow up with you at the appropriate time. “Mr. Smith and the Library Committee make the final decision as to whether we can buy your product.” That’s also been said before. The salesperson will then ask to see Mr. Smith and as many of the members of the committee as possible.

Talking about price is always a difficult discussion, but one that must be had. Both parties have a tendency to avoid the topic until the last possible moment. It is not an easy discussion, but the price must be understood and agreed to by both parties.

Strengthening the Partnership

The most important thing to remember about price is that you should never make decisions to buy content based on cost alone. As one of my librarian friends recently told me, “Buying information is not like going to the grocery store.” It’s a partnership between you and the sales rep to determine what databases you need and to work out a price that is amenable to both parties.

For a salesperson to efficiently fill your needs, both of you need to be on the same page and, most importantly, on the same team. The reality is that the two of you are working together to get the best possible information sources into your library at the most reasonable cost. You want to put the salesperson in a position where she can help you achieve your objectives. By doing this, you not only help yourself, you also help the sales rep. It can be a classic win-win situation if both parties work together.

One way you can strengthen the relationship is to inform the rep about procedures at your library for working with other departments. For example, if you’ve been shown a business-related database and you are at an academic institution, will you support the rep in calling on the dean of the business school to gain additional demand for the product? If you are the librarian at an investment bank, is it advisable for the rep to also call on the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) group at the bank to find additional funding for the purchase of that database?

In my years of selling information products in both academic and commercial markets, I always tried to enlist other departments to support the library’s purchase of the databases I was presenting. It was a strategy that worked many times for the benefit of the library. So, help the sales rep navigate through your organization. By working together, you both will provide value to your respective organizations.

The checklists below summarize the responsibilities of the information professional and the salesperson. Both roles are remarkably similar and, when executed properly, ensure success for both parties.


Checklist for Information   Professionals

  • Be on time and arrange to meet in a quiet place.
  • Speak with honesty and  conviction.
  • Know all the products that can meet your library’s needs.
  • Express the library’s needs (clarify your objectives).
  • Remember that buying information is not like going to the grocery store.
  • Visit the vendor’s Website before the meeting.
  • Understand the dynamics of a typical sales meeting.
  • Respect the salesperson’s  time.
  • Coach the salesperson on navigating your organization’s decision-making process.

Checklist   for Sales Representatives

  • Arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting.
  • Speak with honesty and  conviction.
  • Know your product line and be able to describe its features and benefits without a PowerPoint        presentation.
  • Remember that buying information is not like going to the grocery store.
  • Listen more and talk less; be an “Information Doctor.”
  • Visit the customer’s Website before the meeting.
  • Respect the librarian’s time and keep the meeting to an hour or less.


I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of Paul Wasserman, the founding dean of the School of Library and Information Services at the University of Maryland. Every year over a 10-year period, I had the privilege to speak to Paul’s classes at the library that now bears his name. It was an honor to be invited, a joy to interact with incredibly gifted library students and staff, and be able to call this extraordinary man my friend. SLA

MICHAEL GRUENBERG is president of Gruenberg   Consulting LLP, which provides services in the areas of sales force training   and assessment, organizational reviews, executive coaching, event planning,   market/product evaluation, and negotiation skills for both vendors and   librarians. He has more than 30 years of experience in the information   profession and has held senior-level sales positions at ProQuest, CSA,   OneSource, Oxford Analytica, and Disclosure. He can be reached at mike@gruenbergconsulting.com



I have known Mike for over 20 years in a variety of capacities. He is the consummate professional as a sales and relationship leader for complex deals and advanced electronic products. He is always strategic and keeps the customer’s needs at the forefront while ensuring that the business needs are met. It is a rare person in our industry who does not know and respect Mike.

Stephen Abram, Executive Director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries
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