|“The process which takes place when the buyer’s need to buy is roughly equal to the seller’s need to sell.”
|Both parties prepared to move
|Customer convinced of need to acquire product / service but not convinced about details of purchase. (The detail will be the subject of negotiation.)
Real negotiation is not about arguing your point until you get what you want – it’s about arriving at the greatest value for both parties.
Unsuccessful negotiations are when either side feels they’ve compromised too much, given way when they didn’t want to, felt unduly pressured or threatened or if they made sacrifices they didn’t want to.
In those situations the other party might believe they’ve won and go away feeling good about themselves; but not for long. They may have won in the short-term, but the other party will never trust them again and will not choose to repeat the experience. The battle may be won, but they won’t have won the war.
What if negotiating were about giving away as much as you possibly could, without feeling unhappy about it? What do you have that you are willing to give away that the ‘other side’ wants? What pressures can you bring to bear that won’t feel like pressure, but rather will feel more like good, hard bargaining.
As a sales professional, you are seeking to form long-term beneficial relationships with as many people as you can. A client is also looking to form a long-term beneficial relationship with those people who can deliver the solutions/products/services they require to help run or support their business. So you need to be seeking as many win-win situations as is possible.
When applied, good negotiation can help build the level of trust between you and your clients.
Take a look at some of the basics of negotiation below. This really only scratches the surface, since whole books have been written on the subject, but it’ll give you a starting point:
- Know exactly what you want and be ready to articulate your position; a negotiating meeting is no place to figure out the terms that are acceptable to you. You won’t win every point, but at least you’ll know in advance what your parameters are.
- Walk through several ‘what if’ scenarios beforehand. Put yourself in your contact’s position and anticipate counter-proposals and compromises and think about how you will react to each.
- Do not begin to negotiate unless you have fully described (and got buy-in to) the value of your product/service
- Understand your client’s motivations for purchasing your product/service
- Be prepared to discuss how your product/service will be used by them and relate it to the value they will receive
- Be certain you are dealing with the person(s) who can make the ultimate decision, from technical, user and financial perspectives
- Be confident in the value you are going to return
- Understand your ‘ultimate goal’, your ‘satisfactory result’ and your ‘fall-back position’, and understand at which point the solution is not good for your company and be prepared to walk away at that point
- Use ‘open questions’ to confirm you understand all their needs
- State your understanding of how your client will benefit from your product/service – and then confirm this is correct
- Be prepared for ‘professional purchaser’ responses, such as a flinch, or silence – don’t counter this – respond with more quality open questions
- Listen, listen and listen Active listening is the description given to the skill of listening with the particular aim of deciphering hidden meanings or innuendo.
- Be prepared to change your solution to offer less value when negotiating lower price options – never discount ‘just because’ – or gain an advantage in return, such as press release or case study rights (ensure the decision-maker can make this promise – his marketing department may not allow it)
- Gain agreement on the small items in the negotiation to keep things positive and moving forward
- Always take notes after you have asked a question enabling you to summarise the process as you move forward
- Stay calm. It’s amazing how much of negotiation is based around attitude and non-verbal language. You can affect a negotiation positively or negatively by the attitude you project. Project confidence, organise your thoughts, choose the words you use carefully. At the point of having the least leverage to win the negotiation, you must demonstrate the most self-confidence.
- Always start high and trade down. It is very difficult to trade upwards from a low position.
- As a rule of thumb, conceal your emotions. Avoid expressing relief, elation, annoyance, disgust, etc.
- Silence is a useful tool, especially when confronted with an unacceptable offer.
- Be prepared to break off the negotiation to confer with colleagues rather than make rash statements.
- Never exaggerate facts. The truth will be revealed in time.
- Be careful not to offend. Respect the other person’s conventions.
- Record all points agreed as you go. Avoid re-negotiations
- Be prepared for disagreement and disappointment during any negotiation. How you disagree will affect the outcome and ultimately affect your relationship with your client. When you disagree, look for the common ground or set the point aside until later. At the end of your discussions, you may find you have several points of disagreement. You can then exchange deal-point concessions until all points of contention are dealt with. When you must make a concession, do it graciously, never grudgingly.
- Be prepared to make the problem a joint one – if necessary, buzz out possible solutions on a flip chart together – this is your (‘royal your’) problem and you want to come to an agreement everyone is comfortable with.
- If the negotiation is to be deferred, decide on the basis for the next meeting.
- Leave at the first sensible opportunity when you have achieved your objectives.
- Be prepared to answer/respond to shock questions/statements:
|That’s very expensive
|In relation/comparison to what?
|That’s more than my budget
|· What is your budget?· Who holds the budget?
· When is the budget up for review?
|We want a 10% settlement discount for payment within 2 weeks of invoice
|If you accept a surcharge on payment received after 2 weeks we can consider a
10% settlement discount for payment within 2 weeks
If you reached an agreement, don’t leave details hanging, summarise your agreement verbally and/or in writing and thank them for their decision to do business with you. You’d be amazed how often two people sitting in the same room, having the same discussion can have such different perspectives of what was agreed upon.
If you didn’t reach an agreement, thank them for their time and commitment, give them a way to continue to discuss further solutions with you in the future, review what went well in the negotiation (so you can use it next time), understand what didn’t go so well (so you can change/drop it next time).