Some sales people are great at conducting initial customer research, generating leads, and nurturing relationships, but when it comes time to get down to the nitty gritty and negotiate a sale, they clam up. They're afraid of messing up-of losing that sale after all their hard work. Sales negotiating is a tricky task, and it takes a real pro to do it right.
Negotiation isn't just one skill-it's a whole basket of skills that work together. The strength of these skills varies based on the sales person, but there are three things that every sales negotiator needs in order to succeed.
1. Alternative Options
The whole point of negotiating is being flexible and having some wiggle room when it comes to closing a deal. You can't go into a sale thinking that you will get exactly what you want and won't accept anything else. In order to be a great sales negotiator, you need to think about alternative options that you are willing to give or accept if things don't go as planned. Decide ahead of time if you can give a discount, reduce a rate, or provide another alternative. When you have other options available, you won't be caught off guard if your Plan A doesn't work out-you'll be prepared once the client wants to start playing hard ball. After all, everything is negotiable.
A great sales negotiator isn't going to back down when a sale starts to go downhill-he'll be assertive. This is an issue for many sales people-they want to please the customer and close the sale no matter what, so they end up forgetting about their own needs and settle for a subpar deal. If a sales negotiator isn't assertive, he will lose.
A good sales negotiator isn't afraid to ask for what he wants and take care of his company's needs first. A sales negotiator who ultimately negotiates a deal down to nothing isn't helpful to a company's profits, so sometimes, you just have to be tough.
However, assertive is different from aggressive-an assertive sales negotiator will still respect the client's wishes while trying to get the best deal for his own needs. Aggressiveness will easily sour a sale and won't benefit the people on either side of the negotiation.
3. The Right Time and Place
If possible, try to conduct your negotiation on your home turf. You'll feel more comfortable and you'll have easier access to information, colleagues, and managers if needed. You won't have to answer, "I'll have to get back to you on that" at any point, and you'll be able to close the deal much quicker. When negotiating in a place where you don't feel comfortable, you can lose the upper hand and ultimately lose the sale along with it.
It's also important to negotiate a deal at the right time. It takes patience-just because you're ready to sell doesn't mean the buyer is ready to purchase just yet. What's more, if you try to rush into a negotiation when it's not the right time, you won't be prepared. You might not have your alternative options ready, and you'll be more likely to make mistakes that can be detrimental to the negotiation process.
The Art of Sales
Sales negotiation is a fine art, and it takes real skill to do it well. The sales negotiator wants the process to be a win-win for both sides, so everyone feels like he got a good deal and feels content with the sale. A good sales negotiator will always have secondary options available, will be assertive when he needs to be, and will know the best place and time to conduct the negotiation. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to great negotiating, but having these three things in your arsenal can greatly help your chances of succeeding as a sales negotiator.