6 Tips for Effective Sales Negotiations
Negotiating a sales deal can sometimes be a tough feat to accomplish and many people fail to do so in a cordial way. While manipulative techniques are the surest way of reaching your goal, negotiating techniques can also mean trying to make the other person see reason by reaching the best decision for all parties, in a friendly and ethical manner.
Even though, for the sake of clarity, we might be referring in this article to a negotiating partner as an ‘opponent’, that doesn’t mean that you should view your negotiating goal as one of defeating someone. There are indeed a number of dark negotiating techniques which we discuss in the beginning of the article, but there is more than one way to skin a cat and if you are uncomfortable with using such ways or if you find that your opponent deserves a more commendable behavior, then in the second half of this article you will find what you need. Let’s take a look at our 6 tips for effective sales negotiations.
We have covered the first 3 tips in a previous article that you can find here: Halloween Special - 3 Dark Negotiation Tactics :
- Hide behind the truth
- Break the rhythm
Here are 3 more that are less aggressive but equally valuable:
4. Talk less, listen more
This first three tactics are not necessarily ones that could be labeled as ‘nice’. You’re not necessarily playing fair game. But you can also negotiate from a ‘good guy/girl’ position. This doesn’t mean turning yourself into a punchbag or a carcass that necrophages can come and pick from until there’s barely any meat left on the bones. It just means trying to understand that a good negotiation outcome is, in the long run, something that satisfies both parties. Reaching agreements for the sake of reaching them can sometimes put one of the parties in a tight spot and that can have nasty consequences later on. And if no recent example comes to mind, just think of Germany after WWI.
A starting point for a successful negotiation outcome is talking less and listening more. It really is as simple and straightforward as that. In order for you to have the best reply to your opponent (let’s stick to a combative term for the sake of having two opposing sides), you need to know what he or she wants to obtain or, if they’re not as straightforward as that, what they want to communicate. What people choose to say when going into a negotiation or what they involuntarily say can tell a lot about their state of mind or expectations. You can use this to you advantage, while also making the other party feel like their demands are carefully being taken into consideration. Event though it might seem easy to do this, it actually takes a bit of practice to learn how to navigate your way around what the other person wants in order to obtain what you want. So don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t obtain stellar results from the start. Just keep at it.
5. Keep the spotlight on your opponent’s weak spots
When going into a negotiation, you might be more worried about what you need to obtain and why you need to obtain it. This way you are putting yourself in the seat of someone that has a bad hand at cards while believing the opponent has a straight flush. You might not necessarily be setting yourself up for failure, but you aren’t giving it your best either.
A better way of approaching a negotiation is by thinking why the other side needs to reach an agreement. Why are they constrained to say yes to your proposal? You need to figure out these constraints before going into negotiation or, if that’s not possible, unearth them during the conversation. It might not always be that what you uncover is a direct Achilles heel - such as them lacking knowledge about the market prices. It could be that their weak spot is a time pressure. Accentuating and working on that will make them agree to your proposal because they will feel, perhaps rightly so, that they are running out of time and they need to obtain something quicker rather than cheaper.
6. Show you are understanding (even when it might not be quite so)
Listening to the other side might not always be the best strategy to kick off a negotiation, though it might be useful later on in the debate. This is because the other side might come in strong if they are the first to talk. You shouldn’t assume that them coming strong only happens when they know they have the upper hand. Most of the time this happens because people think they are absolutely right in every aspect and not because they rationally weigh in their cards or actual needs. This is why it is important to know beforehand if your opponent will come into the negotiation with a strong claim.
If you suspect that might be the case, then the way to go is by first presenting the topic to be negotiated in its most barebone form that suits your purpose. This doesn’t mean distorting it, but just keeping it to a minimum. This will include stating their needs in the same barebone manner. After you have done this, quickly build upon that skeleton to show how you are actually meeting them in the middle. Accentuate how understanding you are of their needs and how your offer actually meets all of them. If you state their desires in terms of their most basic needs and you then show how you meet them, they will get a sense of satisfaction and think that they have already won a great deal if not everything. From that point onward, you can easily state your needs as well, by showing that you DO need to obtain something from this negotiation as well - pressing their reasonability onto them. Most people will only find it natural to accept your requests as so many of theirs have already been met by you.
Whether you choose to go for dark negotiating techniques or cordial ones, these 6 tips will give you a good starting point for becoming as effective a salesman or saleswoman as you can be. And don’t forget that before deciding to discard one of these methods, you should make sure you’ve had enough practice. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it will take you a while before you master a negotiating technique.