Having worked in a business development position since joining Finlay James, in my whole professional career, I have experienced negotiation on a daily basis. It is something we should all learn about as the applications for the art of negotiation transfer into so many day to day interactions.
First of all the biggest mistake a sales person can make is to try and 'win' when negotiating and no doubt, due to the competitive nature of a sales person, they try to 'win' by a significant margin. However, it’s not a football game where a 6-0 whitewash of your opposition means your Manager, Chief Exec and Fans (Clients) are all happy. In fact, it is the opposite, as you will need to continue dealing with the person you negotiate with long into the future to create a successful and long-lasting relationship. This is why many see 'win' as the forbidden word when it comes to negotiation.
Here are my three top tips when it comes to negotiating:
1. Start high and negotiate slowly
Remember you sell on value so to come down too quickly is to devalue your product/service. During a negotiation, you will have to make concessions to ensure a stronger partnership in the future but this shouldn’t be one sided as both parties need to be happy with the result.
2. Listen first
Speak second as you don’t know what the other person will say! It is tempting to offer discounts first to show you are attempting to make it work. However, save some of your 'ammunition' for negotiating back; like a boxer waiting to deliver his knock-out punch at the right time.
3. Sometimes you have to walk away
This is not easy for any sales professional, but sometimes it’s necessary. It’s hard when you have put your heart into something that looks like it could fall at the final hurdle; but if you are being asked to radically change things then this may be tell-tale sign of problems further down the line with this customer who may not clearly understand the value in what you offer. It’s not necessarily over though as 'no' is a powerful word that can test a customer’s commitment. They may even be back in a few months once they realise what they missed out on! If you buy cheap you buy twice after all!
There are thousands of methods and strategies when it comes to negotiation, all of which I am sure are used on a day-to-day basis by sales people across the world successfully. However, in my opinion, if you apply these three tips you will be better off than if you didn’t.