Struggling to Close the Sale? It’s Time to Give Your Sales Negotiation Skills a Tune-Up

Struggling to Close the Sale? It’s Time to Give Your Sales Negotiation Skills a Tune-Up

By Maura Schreier-Fleming | In: Sales


Do you want better sales results? Then become a better negotiator. All too often sales professionals fail to develop or improve their negotiation skills and then end up with poor sales agreements.

Come prepared.

You are horribly misguided if you think your negotiating partner will be coming to the negotiation ready to give you what you want. This is business, not charity.

Prepare yourself by thoroughly investigating what you think your opponent might want. Know what the least is you would be willing to accept. Know what you and your product or service is worth. Plan concessions that you can offer. If you get offers that seem good but actually are not, because you’ve done your homework you will know the real details.

Know when you will walk away if you can’t come to an agreement. The best alternative to a negotiated agreement–or BATNA–is for what you are willing to walk away when you can’t come to an agreement. For example, a BATNA of a failed negotiation for a price increase could be to sell to other prospects at a higher price.

Give and get.

You will probably have to give something to the other party when you negotiate. Don’t make the mistake that amateur negotiators make. They make concessions without getting anything in return. Be sure to ask for something in return when you make a concession. Be prepared to know what you want before the negotiation.

Be persuasive.

Become more persuasive through reciprocity. Reciprocity is giving something to someone which then triggers the need for them to give something in return. Reciprocity is very powerful; in fact, research shows that an unsolicited favor triggers an inner need to reciprocate, even if the reciprocation won’t be recognized

Why not start your next meeting with soft drinks, water or coffee, and light refreshments? When you use reciprocity, the mere favor will trigger the need to reciprocate. When you’re negotiating, the other party will be more likely to make concessions during negotiations.

Be able to reframe what you hear.

What the other party really wants is often hidden below the surface. For example, a need for a lower price might in fact be an attempt for a new employee to demonstrate his performance to a superior. Learn to ask “why?” and “how?” questions to uncover the real reasons behind demands.

Once you learn the real issue, you can reframe the discussion. In this case, instead of lowering your price you could discuss the value you deliver. You could highlight your product performance and service, and quantify it for your customer. He would get credit for working with a supplier who delivers that value.

Don’t be fooled.

The other party might say that unless you give up something, there won’t be a deal. Bluffs are part of negotiations; however, if you’re prepared you will know what’s true and what’s not. Don’t succumb to “take-it-or-leave-it” threats–you might be better off walking away from the negotiation. This is why you need to have your BATNA ready before you negotiate.