“So much of life is a negotiation…even if you're not in business, you have opportunities to practice all around you” - Kevin O’Leary
Despite being in sales for more than 10 years I used to hate negotiation. But i’ve grown to enjoy it. Many sales professionals struggle to get the outcomes they actually want. It’s not just about trying to sell more value!
Today’s buying environment is different for everyone in sales. For many you’re dealing with procurement for every change made to an existing agreement or new product or service introduced.
My favourite book on negotiation is ‘Getting More’ by Stuart Diamond. Here are 9 ideas that help me get focused for successful negotiations every time.
1. It’s about them. Find out what’s important to them in this negotiation. You’ll be surprised sometimes it’s not about price at all but terms and conditions.
2. Address emotions first. Every negotiation, no matter the relationship, will have some measure of emotion. We can’t help but bring emotion to the table. We’re human after all! You need to discover which emotions are at the table. Is it pressure because your contact has deadlines? Are there changes in process? Understand this and you can control the outcome.
3. Be incremental. Simply take your time. Have a process and agree steps that make sense to reaching your goals. This will mean really evaluating what you’re offering and trading.
4. Always communicate and create a vision. The glue to ensuring things stick in a negotiation is communication. Ensuring you and your client have a clear vision of the end result. Even if you fundamentally disagree on parts, if you maintain high level of communication you can eventually build deeper rapport and it lead to more open and easier conversation.
5. Trade unequally valuable items from any source. Know what you offer and get creative. With just a little work in advance you can build up a bank of tradeables that could be of real value to your client. This doesn’t have to take anything from your bottom line.
6. Be transparent and constructive. A lot of negotiators will tell you not to show anything and keep all your cards close. Unless you’re playing poker this can be a very alienating strategy. The point of being transparent is to set clear expectations with your client that you’re here to make progress and reach an outcome.
7. Find and use their standards. Don’t be afraid to make sure your terms and conditions between you and your client are clear. Remember to be respectful. Ask if there were specific things in your agreement that may prevent or help you from finding a workable solution where you keep value on the table and still help them achieve their goals.
8. Goals are paramount. Know what you want. Your goals don’t only have to be monetary. In every communication you have with your client you have the opportunity to build on your relationship.
9. Every situation is different (even if it’s the same person). This can be a fatal mistake made by many sales people when negotiating with their clients. Because we know them we assume it’s the same situation and we can apply the same strategies and approach again. The reality is how we all show up each day will vary. And in negotiations you, and your client will have different goals and expectations. Treat every negotiation situation as a brand new experience, applying all the above principles.
These might seem like a lot, but when practiced often you’ll begin to see you get more and better results from your negotiation. You can thank Stuart Diamond for that.
By Jermaine Edwards, Founder and Author of the Key Account Hack. As a customer growth speaker and coach. Jermaine helps Key Account Managers, Managers of account teams, Solopreneurs and businesses around the world differentiate their value for retention and see up to 30% - 40% sales growth every year from their key customers. Using the key account hack system you access a proven step by step guide that leads you to deeper and more influential client relationships and massive customer sales growth in just 90 days. For more information visit his website, Twitter or LinkedIn.