Sales negotiations are crucial to growing your business. Negotiation is all about creating value for your customers. To become a master negotiator, you want to close sales faster and gain more value from each deal.
When you don’t know how to negotiate well, you risk leaving money on the table. Sales negotiation training can prime you for increasing your quotas and growing your business. Here's a compilation of negotiation techniques to successfully close more deals.
Qualify and Disqualify Early
Before you invest your time and energy negotiating a sale, first figure out whether the prospect is a suitable fit. Qualifying sales leads results in higher close rates and a higher return on investments.
Qualifying your prospects early can speed up the sales cycle. Qualifying provides a clear understanding of what types of clients are most successful working with you.
For prospects who aren't a suitable fit, provide value by referring these prospects to other providers. Referring a customer to a provider more suited to their needs is a show of goodwill. While you miss out on a sale this time, the customer remembers you in a positive light for the future. The customer may even recommend you to others.
To qualify and disqualify leads, ask guided questions. Determine a prospect’s budget, goals, and challenges. Examples of questions include:
- Why do you need this product?
- What previous experiences, positive and negative, have you had with similar products?
- What results do you expect?
- What are your internal resources for optimizing how you use our product?
- How will you know whether our relationship has been successful?
Identify Preferred Outcomes
What outcome would provide optimal value for you and your prospect? Is it a particular price point or the inclusion of certain features? Defining your expectations makes it easier to achieve your target.
It's not enough to only identify your desired outcome. Take steps to also find out your prospect's required outcome and expected experience. Your prospect's required outcome is what the prospect expects to happen. The expected experience is how the prospect expects to feel working with you.
For instance, if you were taking a flight from city A to city B, any airline can get you there. That's the required outcome. The experience you have depends on whether you fly Southwest Airlines, Virgin America, or Spirit Airlines.
Negotiate with a Decision Maker
Negotiating with anyone other than the decision-makers rarely works out well. An essential part of your preparations should be finding out who makes the buying decisions. Negotiating with anyone else leads to time loss and often the loss of a sale to a competitor who is talking with the decision makers.
However, if your contact isn't a decision maker, don't dismiss them. See speaking with the contact as a chance to find out who is a decision maker. Also, try to gather new insights to find out the prospect's possible needs and challenges. That way, when you get to a decision maker, you're likely to make a more effective sales pitch.
Ask for What You Want
According to negotiation training experts, sales negotiation is an exercise in relationship-building. Yet, some salespeople end up with cold feet when it comes to closing the sale. After creating momentum and building enthusiasm, tell your prospect exactly what you want.
While your features and benefits may seem attractive, your prospect will likely not buy until you make an offer. Are you afraid of offending your prospect by asking them to buy?
As a master negotiator:
- Ask for the business
- Build your case and highlight the prospect's potential benefits
- Be ready for a NO just as much as a YES
- Create urgency to motivate quick decision-making
- Offer attractive incentives ahead of your competitors
Practice Active Listening
Often, your prospect will have objections to your sale. Don't jump in to counter every objection. Otherwise, the interaction could turn into a competition between the sales rep and the prospect.
Instead, let your prospect talk. Give the client space to express their concerns. When your prospect seems to have completed their list of objections, ask guided questions. For instance, your prospect may make objections about the lack of some product features. You may respond by asking: "Out of the features you mentioned, which ones do you think are a deal-breaker, and which would just be nice to have?”
Such a question guides your prospect to prioritize their requests. You can then focus on solving the deal-breakers first. Once you've handled the most important objections, go back and ask whether you have addressed your prospect's chief concerns.
Active listening provides clarity on your prospect's needs. You work together to rank the issues that matter most to your prospect. Active listening saves time rather than forever arguing over endless streams of objections. Time management software like the PomoDone App can be used to structure your negotiation sessions. Schedule when to listen and provide time to tackle objections according to priority.
Partner with at least one person when negotiating. Having a partner in discussions can keep you more objective and less prone to veering off course due to emotional reactions.
An ideal negotiation partner is someone skilled at rational thought and critical thinking, or who is adept at the interpersonal aspects of negotiation. Your teammate should be someone you trust with suitable training, industry knowledge, and who knows your products well enough. A savvy partner will question your moves, especially when you're making concessions.
Bouncing your ideas off a trusted colleague can save you from costly mistakes. A partner may also make it easier to see and go for significant opportunities that you may not have spotted on your own.
Have a BATNA
Negotiations experts recommend having the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). Having an alternative increases your power in sales negotiations. A BATNA may not be the ideal outcome you were seeking, but it's an acceptable outcome you can achieve without the prospect's cooperation.
For instance, let's say you make an offer to a prospect to sell them a house. Someone else already offered you $325K. If your prospect makes a counteroffer of $310K, you can comfortably reject the offer knowing you can still sell for $325K. Without a plan B, the pressure would be high for you to sell at $310K.
Don't Take Objections and Rejections Personally
Objections are part of the sales process. A prospect who objects or rejects a sale is most often not against you as a seller. The prospect may not have a full understanding of how your product will fix their pain points. Alternatively, the prospect might just not have the budget to take advantage of your offer.
Also, rejection is not necessarily the end of the relationship. A rejection can present chances for a more suitable sale. Understand that a rejection is not always final. Many times, rejection can lead to a future sale.
Master Negotiations with Practice
Nurture positive relationships even when the prospect is not ready to buy. Refer prospects to providers more suited to their needs when appropriate.
Take time to understand the prospect’s objections. Use what you learn to focus your pitch for next time. Your next sales pitch should address specific pain points highlighted in the previous rejection.
About the author:
Steve Causey is a long-time content creator and editor. Through his writings, Steve brings the best and most important negotiating lessons to a business audience. He also enjoys the opportunity to work with skilled negotiators, integrating best practices into his own life.
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