Being able to negotiate effectively is one of the most important skills you can build in your sales armoury, as it has a direct effect on your margins and overall profitability, as well as ensuring your customers get the best service possible.
Here, we discuss five aspects of negotiation that will help you improve when carrying out those stages:
Prepare with your customer in mind
What are the key challenges this specific customer is facing at the moment?
What can I offer that would help them achieve their goals and overcome these challenges?
How can I increase value in my offering that would be more valuable than the cost of these challenges?
By preparing your answers to these questions, you give yourself a chance to build reasons for the customer to accept a higher price for your solutions, as the value of overcoming them would be greater than the price paid to do so. It’s also a very good idea to have a best alternative up your sleeve. This is referred to as your BATNA in negotiation – as in, best alternative to a negotiated agreement)
Concentrate on Interests not Positions
This means identifying what is most important to the prospect.
For instance, if they are asking for a discount, find out the reason why a cheaper price is important to them.
Are they looking to reduce their overall costs? Do they want to make more profit is they are selling on? Are they comparing you with a competitor?
Finding out the reason can give you the upper edge when negotiating, as the prospect’s needs may be different to what you had originally assumed.
Don’t split the difference
If you were selling an item for £200 and the customer offered £100, then offering to split the difference at £150 wouldn’t be a wise move.
What you are saying is, you are willing to drop by £50 and want the person to go up £50. The problem is that the other person could see your drop to £150 as a ‘bargaining position’. They could then bargain from that point, because you have conceded rather than traded. It’s your next ‘point of negotiation’ and they can start from there.
Instead of splitting the difference, you need to ascertain the reasons for dropping the price before you even think of moving your position.
If you gave in to a request from the prospect without gaining anything in return, you can be seen as a soft touch and someone from whom it is easy to get a reduced price.
Try to ‘trade’ for any reduction. If the prospect asks for money off, see if you can get an increased order for it. If they ask for improved credit terms, see if there are further orders you can achieve in response to their request.
That way, the prospect realises that it is a case of ‘give and take’ on your behalf and there aren’t any easy pickings.
Determine your walk-away position
This entails you knowing exactly at what point you will decide to stop negotiating and agree not to agree. If you don’t have this point in your planning and preparation, you run the risk of going further than you had planned and reducing your chances of getting good margins.
For example, make a decision that you won’t go beyond a certain figure of discount, unless you get increased orders or higher margin on other services you offer. Stick to that decision. If the prospect insists on higher discount, use your walk-away position to say you can’t do any better and thank them for their time.
If it’s part of a bluff, they will back down and your negotiable position will be within your pre-planned parameters. If it isn’t a bluff, you have proved that you have confidence in your products and services, and that you are prepared to lose sales if that’s what it takes.
Either way, you gain the prospect’s respect for having confidence in your offers.
By working on these five key aspects of negotiating, you prove you have the products and services that will help your customers and their businesses to thrive, and you add value to them by insisting on good prices along with a good negotiation process.