Negotiation is at the basis of every successful sales situation.
You can negotiate pretty much everything in life. There are some exceptions, of course. However, most of the time, you might be able to negotiate somehow something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be money, it can also be time or commitment from someone else.
Learning the basics of sales negotiation is crucial in both sales and life. If you are in sales and are not reading constantly about how to improve your negotiation skills, then you might be in trouble.
Negotiation can’t be taught through a blog post or a book. You cannot read and automatically expect to learn how to negotiate. You need to apply time and resources to eventually master this skill. It’s a long and difficult process and not everyone is able to get it rightly.
As a soft skill, it actually requires longer than any other hard skill you might want to learn. The application of this skill is not so easy and you carefully need to evaluate what and when to negotiate. Whenever you have a chance try to test your knowledge and skills. Check to what extent you can increase your possibility to win!
Time To Dance
Yes, expect to dance. Sales negotiation is a dance in a sense that you cannot expect to be doing the whole time the talk or be in the lead. Negotiation takes time and it’s a 2-way process.
Sometimes you are in the lead, sometimes your partner is. You better understand this from the very beginning or you won’t be able to successfully negotiate much.
It doesn’t matter who is leading the process and when. The important is that you dance and keep moving with it. Adapt and be flexible.
Someone very wise once said:
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
A common sales negotiation process can take from few hours up to few weeks (if not months) depending on what you are negotiating.
Don’t be static, move and be flexible enough to successfully negotiate your way to win!
Sales Negotiation varies according to culture
Every culture has an approach to life (and negotiation) very different. For example, in Japan, it can take an incredible amount of time (at least to Western standards) to make a final decision. People who are not familiar with this culture might think that they are not interested or that they are “too slow”.
Depending on the focus of your sales, start understanding your prospect culture. Needless to say that your prospect is not necessarily expecting that from you, but if you do, then you will have an advantage. I have met so many skilled salesmen in my life that failed at understanding this basic point. It doesn’t take much to read a book about cultures and how the approach business. Do it and you will be ahead of many lazy salespeople.
In every sales negotiation, you want to make sure to listen carefully what your prospect is saying. Not only because you will have opportunities to ask more questions, but also because by listening you will understand her real pain point.
Listening is such a simple thing to do, yet so many people fail at it, and your prospect knows it!
How many times have you found yourself in situations where you prospect was giving you unclear reasons for not closing a deal with you? How many times have you faced a prospect shifting the conversation focus on smaller points that didn’t really matter?
Your prospect assumes you are not paying full attention; therefore she will try to give you as many as unrelated inputs to the topic, in order to confuse you and keep you away. On the other hand, a good salesperson will do the same just to his own advantage.
Listening during a sales negotiation is most likely the most important thing to keep in mind.
You are not going to sell now
You will hardly close the negotiation in your first phone call. Many people who are new to the world of sales make this mistake. They think that in a call and in a 20 minutes negotiation process they will be able to close the deal.
NO! YOU WON’T!
Stop thinking that. In every business related sales negotiation process, there will be several steps and several interactions before the last decision.
Sales negotiation is a long process that can happen in a meeting, via phone or emails.
Be very careful when at the end of your first call you hear a “yes!”, you might have just scared away your prospect. I have convinced more people to work with me that at first were skeptical than the opposite.
Sales Negotiation starts when the prospect has a need
You might be thinking you are negotiating already, from the very first interaction. However, does your prospect have a need for your offering or is it just fishing for information?
Until she is not open to talking business, you are not negotiating. You are just dancing alone with no partner.
Remember that timing is important. Usually, if you are selling something you have the urge to close the deal. Your prospect, unless in specific situations, has all the time in the world to delay or find some excuses. It’s your job to create urge for your prospect.
A typical “secret” to influence your counterpart is to create scarcity in what you are selling.
Don’t make that offer! (and don’t take the first one)
Although very tempting, just don’t do it. In a sales negotiation the first one saying the price usually loses. This is true in every situation, even in a job interview. The moment you say a price, you have either pushed away your prospect (too high) or given him an advantage (too low).
I have done this mistake too many times. It’s just so easy to put that number on the table and get it off your chest. However, those times I didn’t, I gained much more. Let your prospect talk, he will give you gold.
Create value before you start negotiating
If you are the only one dancing, no one else will join you while you are riding.
The reason why you need to create value in the head of your prospect is that otherwise, she will not see the reason to even start a negotiation.
Value creation is obviously something strictly related to your product or service. However, it’s also up to you to make your prospect understand the value of your offering. Start by understanding your solution advantages and disadvantages, then go out and talk with your prospects.
It’s OK to say NO!
Sometimes, it’s OK to just walk away and say no. You cannot win all the fights and don’t expect to do so.
If you walk in every sales negotiation with the expectation of winning, you are going to get depressed, very soon.
There are times in which you won’t be able to convince your prospect to pay what you are suggesting. There other times in which you won’t be able to accept the terms of the sales. You don’t have to accept everything, just because you are selling something. It’s better not to close a deal, than closing a bad deal.
The moment you realize that it’s OK to say NO, you will understand its power.
Do you have any other suggestions to take into consideration when thinking about sales negotiation?