Did you know 80% of people enter a sales negotiation with the same mindset? I always thought of negotiation as a scenario that would include many different strategies. Although the more I think about it, the less ridiculous that statement seems. And considering the statistic was taken from a Harvard Business Review study, that statistic definitely holds some significance.
It’s actually simple, and it’s likely the first thing you think about doing when entering a competition. People enter negotiations trying to size up their opponent and then taking it from there. If their opponent wants to fight, they’ll fight back. But if their opponent wants to come to a productive solution, they’ll do just the same.
Here are some different skills to focus on that may give you an advantage in your next negotiation:
- Knowing Your Pitch – Nailing your pitch all comes down to preparation. Before going into the meeting, make sure to define your objectives and know your story behind obtaining them. Know all that you can about your client or customer BEFORE the discussion begins. Don’t let yourself enter a situation where you have not fully defined your goals or prepared the correct language. Each negotiation is a little different, and each pitch should be tweaked differently to satisfy the needs of the opposing party.
- Overcoming Objections – Be ready for push back and have good statements for common objections in the discussion. During negotiations, it’s inevitable that you’re going to come to a point where both sides aren't aligned. Great negotiators combat these disagreements through productive dialogue.
- Understanding The Deal Driver – The customers real needs are not always staring you in the face and its rare for the prospect to volunteer that information because it can weaken their position. Understanding real needs and drivers are felt out through productive questions in the discussion. The opposing party may enter the conversation with an end goal in mind, but their real need may be a bit more complicated to understand. Learn to embrace the situation and get to the root of what the opposition is asking from you.
- Listening Closely – A savvy VP of Sales once told me, “you have two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately”. This holds true in negotiations. When you truly listen to what the other person has to say, internalize their goals and their motives, and respond accordingly – the chances that agreement negotiations run smoothly greatly increase. Listening to to your prospect is the key to getting a deal done. Empathy under pressure can really go a long way.
- Knowing When To Walk Away –The upper hand in a negotiation usually goes to the person who is willing to walk away. In these pressure filled situations, it’s important to know what your boundaries are up front and its ok to push back when the time is right. If you believe there is a real need by a prospect and you have validated that, and then there is an ask that isn't aligned with the negotiation - walk away. This doesn't mean never speak to them again, walking away can sometimes be letting them know that ask is unacceptable and they need to reconsider their position or this deal may fall through. The key to remember is this can work both way so understand your situation in detail before considering it.
- Closing – After going through weeks, months, or maybe even years of back and forth, you will inevitably reach the close, or end of a negotiation. If the opposition hasn’t walked away from the table by now, it’s time to get the deal done. A closing typically takes time, patience, and attention to detail. If there is still reservations with signing off on the deal, you are not actually at the close, you are actually still at number two on this list, overcoming objections. If you have done your homework and set the deal up correctly, this should be the easiest part of the process. Good luck!
For more information on streamlining the contract process of sales negotiations, visit www.linksquares.com.