When you have products or services to sell and you’re sitting across the table from a decision-maker who is considering his or her next move, it can be a pretty stressful sales situation.
By Lilou Hoffman
The cat-and-mouse game of negotiations is not for the faint of heart. However, if you have a solid strategy heading in, respect the buyer, and stick to your terms, you’ll have the greatest chance of a successful outcome. Being realistic is important, however. Despite your best efforts, your customer or buyer may want too much for too little. At such times, it pays to know when to walk.
What follows are some tips on what makes a skilled negotiator—and they might surprise you.
Don’t Disclose Lowest Acceptable Price Too Soon
As part of the give-and-take dynamic that is integral to the sales negotiation process, you might hear your buyer ask pretty early on for the best price you’re willing to sell your products or services for. A piece of advice from a negotiation course is to not go too low too soon. A novice mistake would be to give your lowest price straight away. By revealing your lowest possible rate, you position yourself to be knocked down even further by your buyer.
If you want to be a skilled sales negotiator and close the deal, it can pay to keep your cards close to your vest. For example, if you can feasibly deduct 15% from the price, consider instead offering to reduce the price by a smaller amount like, say, 2%. Going in with a lower reduction allows you the wiggle room you need to counter effectively.
If you give up too much too soon, you could box yourself in and leave yourself without sufficient leverage to negotiate effectively. Negotiation courses advocate being a little reserved with how much you can realistically slash from the asking price. This technique increases the odds of closing a sale.
Use Time to Your Advantage
Sales negotiation courses often teach that most of the concessions made during the negotiation phase happen within the last 20% of the time set aside for discussions. Knowing this fact, you can use time to your advantage. Your buyer is likely to be more open to making concessions as the deadline approaches.
In order to use this technique to your advantage, you are advised to ensure that you resolve the nitty-gritty details—the fundamentals of the deal—first. Then, you can use the remaining time in the negotiation effectively. What makes a skilled negotiator is the ability to know when to use such a strategy.
You should only employ this technique if the buyer is under more time pressure than you are. Otherwise, the buyer very well could use time to get you to make concessions.
Know When to Walk Away
When it comes to figuring out what makes a skilled sales professional, one thing that a negotiation course will teach you is that success is not merely measured by how many deals you close. Sometimes, success is achieved by training yourself to know when to walk away from a proposed deal. Whether your buyer is asking for too much, is refusing to negotiate in good faith, or is imposing an unworkable time frame, it pays to know when to walk away.
To Sum Up
Understanding what makes a skilled sales negotiator is to understand the need for a well-planned strategy. You have the products or services that your prospective buyer wants, and you want to get the best possible price. If you avoid disclosing your best offer too soon, use time to your advantage, and know when to leave the table, you have the best opportunity to close more deals on your own terms.
Building online visibility for the Negotiation Training Experts is Lilou Hoffman’s talent and passion. Her experience in working with sales professionals has given her key insights, essential when it comes to writing instructive and practical posts.