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Negotiations, The Neglected Sales Skill
Blog / Sales Management / Nov 11, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 599 

Negotiations, The Neglected Sales Skill

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Negotiation is a skill that is vital for salespeople to know how to use, and know how to use well. If a salesperson cannot negotiate, or doesn’t know when to negotiate, success is likely not in their future. Understand negotiation better with these actionable tips.

The Art of Negotiation:

Negotiation is a skill. It’s a skill that salespeople do every day, many times a day. It’s critical to have the ability to negotiate and to recognize when you negotiate. Much of it also comes down to listening. If you are listening with a customer or prospect, you are usually listening as a salesperson, and trying to identify specific key points so you can present a solution to the prospect’s problem. But, salespeople need to listen to their conversations with buyers and potential customers as a salesperson, and as a negotiator.

  • Understand how to negotiate, and also know when you are negotiating.
  • If you learn how to play the game of negotiation, and start understanding the skills that are required to become a good negotiator, you will start listening to your conversations with different ears.

Common Mistakes:

One of the most common mistakes that salespeople make around negotiation is not using the appropriate amount of empathy. If you have too much empathy, then you are completely on the customer’s side of the table, and you are likely giving away things that you shouldn’t be giving away. Too much empathy also means that you don’t ask the tough questions. But, if you don’t have enough empathy, then you’re not asking the kinds of questions that get you to what motivates the customer and what is important to them, or what will make them feel like they are winning. You’re also not listening, and if you’re not listening, you can’t ask great questions. Another common mistake that salespeople fall into is that they don’t know when to walk away. The goal of selling is to create a win-win situation, and salespeople have to be able to know when a deal isn’t a good fit for them or their company.

  • Create a balance between being too empathic, or not empathetic enough. Have flexibility during difficult conversations.
  • Don’t lose your power by becoming too desperate. Play the long game to build your pipeline sufficiently so you can say “no” to anyone deal at any given time.

Best Negotiation Practices:

Negotiation is a skill that is woven through the entire sales process. It happens from day one. One of the things that make negotiators great is that they are skilled at discovery early on in the process. Understand what the customer’s goals are, and the timeframe that they have to reach those goals. This creates a more seamless process and moves them swiftly through the sales process.

  • In the discovery process, ask the right kinds of questions, ask the hard questions, understand the status quo, know what the buyer’s problems are, have an idea of what the rate is going to look like, and dig deep enough to understand what their motivators are.
  • Help your customers define and quantify those goals, and help them understand the value that you can provide for them, the hard work is already done when it comes down to closing the deal.
  • Set yourself up by getting the buyer to say “yes” on a lot of small things early in the process so that they can get their customers to say “yes” when it matters at the end.
  • Create a climate of agreement between the buyer and yourself as a salesperson.

Approaching the Negotiation Phase:

  • In your preparation, think of the negotiation from the third story. Bring your story to the table. The buyer brings their story to the table. But, consider what a third party, with no skin in the game, would think about the situation. This helps to tone down the emotion in the conversation.
  • Start with the 100% rule. That is, can you find one thing to start the discussion with that you and the client can both 100% agree on. You start the conversation with a yes, and you begin the negotiation phase on the same page.
  • When you have conversations in the negotiation phase, be very honest and super transparent. Buyers are drawn to the salespeople who are the most honest and aren’t afraid to talk about the hard part.

Best Practices:

Often when we begin the negotiation process, salespeople forget to keep selling. All communication becomes focused on planning the close of the sale, and adding value are overlooked. Remember to continue best practices to maintain the hard work you’ve done throughout the sales process.

  • When there are small things that don’t matter as much, make significant concessions. That way, on things that are important, you can limit the amount of wiggle room.
  • Never trade something for nothing. It weakens your position. Instead, find opportunities to expand value mutually.
  • Keep the relationship open and positive, and continue to do things that are helpful to the buyer.
  • Be very transparent and hold each other accountable. If you want to hold your buyers accountable, you must keep yourself accountable.

Successful Outcomes:

  • No feelings are hurt, the relationship is maintained, and both parties want to work together again.
  • The customer feels as if they’re getting a product or service they’re excited about and understand how it’s going to impact their life positively, and the vendor has made money.

Information for this article was sourced from this webinar, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Jane Gentry, Tony Perzow, and Samantha Stone.

    About Author

    John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World's Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

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