Written by Sean McPheat |
Of all the skills you probably need to develop most as a successful salesperson, but actually practice least, is the skill and art of negotiating to a collaborative conclusion. This may be because you think it has to be done in front of the client, and any practice would never prepare you for the real situation.
But you can prepare yourself effectively to improve your negotiation skills by concentrating on some salient facts:
Firstly, what are my realistic expectations during the negotiations? Set yourself LIMITS. These are (L) things you’d Like to achieve, (I) things you Intend to achieve and (M) levels you must not go beyond. If you can achieve a result between these three positions, then IT’S a deal! It gives you room to move when you are working with the client on positions, without having to worry about giving things away.
You want to enter the negotiation with equal power. One way you can do this is by knowing what the competition are offering. If your client tells you what offers they’ve had, make sure you have benefits that offer more value than they could get elsewhere.
Ensure you approach the negotiation from a position of collaboration. This means you will both mutually succeed by adopting your solutions.
Make yourself different from the competition by being in a unique position to assist your client. What can you offer in the long-term relationship that no-one else can?
Prepare for your client to try to negotiate from a position of power. It’s known as win-lose, and it often happens when you look desperate for the deal. If you are asked to move positions during the negotiation, make sure it’s a trade rather than a concession. If you give away everything, you won’t be in a strong position to help the client in the future.
Remember, special deals or individual arrangements with clients do have a habit of biting you where it hurts, especially if you are negotiating again in the future.
If they come back with demands at the last minute, look for the real reasons behind it, and make it so that you collaborate with them, rather than give in to these seemingly trivial demands.
If you give in, what does that do to your credibility as a company and as an individual? It means that, at a subliminal level, the client can’t trust you, because you were going to agree terms at one point and then you move easily to another. They are thinking ‘what else could I have got?’
So, if you can prepare yourself effectively before the negotiation, it will give you the confidence and credibility to improve your negotiation skills and approach it from a position of power rather than weakness. Practice with a colleague. Write down objections you might encounter. Be vigilant as to the tactics the client might use on you. And determine that your client will benefit enormously by having you serve them in the future.
Originally published: 4 June, 2010
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