When you’re in sales, negotiation skills may seem like a no-brainer. You can’t make a sale without negotiation, right?
The sale is what happens before the negotiation. The negotiation is where you increase the value of the sale by creating a win-win outcome for all parties involved.
It doesn’t have to be. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the difference between sales and negotiation and how to increase sales using a negotiation mindset.
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How Can Negotiation Skills Help Sales Professionals?
Entering into every sale with a negotiation mindset means understanding that the sale is only the first step in the transaction. Negotiation is what happens next and ultimately matters just as much as the sale, if not more.
Why? Because negotiation skills help professionals build and maintain trust, manage relationships, and add value to every sale by focusing on a mutually beneficial outcome.
The distinction between sales and negotiation is important, and it has been recognized for years by the experts at The Maker Group.
Our rigorous eight-step Maker Framework combines proven methodologies with behavioral-based strategies to train sales professionals how to ditch the salesperson facade and enter into every sale as a negotiator.
For more information, contact The Maker Group today.
How to Increase Sales Using Negotiation: 9 Top Negotiating Techniques From the Experts
When looking for ways to increase sales, it’s crucial to start with negotiation skills. Selling will only get you so far, and ultimately, value will be lost, and money will be left on the table, if a seller lacks negotiation skills.
The best way to increase sales is to prepare your salesforce with these nine negotiating techniques.
#1: Be Prepared
“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought” – Sun Tzu, Art of War
While we don’t consider negotiation a battle, preparation is the key to starting a negotiation out on the right foot.
When you do your research to understand what your prospect is most likely to ask for in a deal, it puts you in the position to make the offer.
Look at it this way:
- Your prospect needs what you’re selling, but why? Think about the specific benefits it will provide and use those to your advantage when negotiating.
- How badly does your prospect need what you’re selling? What will it cost them, emotionally and financially, if they don’t buy it?
- Is your prospect the decision-maker? Consider their purchasing role and if they’ll be able to make the final decision. If not, be prepared for unexpected decision-makers to be introduced into the negotiation.
By considering these aspects of a negotiation beforehand, you put yourself in a position of power. The power to offer what the client wants and the power to protect what you’re not willing to compromise on.
The seller should always lead the negotiation by recapping common ground and then setting the stage for the next step — the offer itself.
There is no advantage to letting the other party open first. Be prepared, and step into every negotiation equipped with the knowledge needed to lead with a solid first offer.
#2: Pay Attention to the Person In Front of You
Active listening and communication skills are critical to the success of a negotiation. If you want to increase the value of the sale, you must pay attention to the person in front of you.
For example, if a client brings up the price, they likely have other concerns attached to the price. They need reassurance or need to have some of their concerns addressed.
Let the prospect initiate the conversation and really listen to what they are saying.
- Concerned that your product won’t live up to expectations?
- Unsure if your company will support their needs in the long term?
- Lacking confidence in their decision?
Understanding your clients’ concerns will put you in a better position to reassure them that you’re working together toward a mutually beneficial outcome.
#3: Learn to Overcome Objections
Have you ever lost a sale during negotiations because you weren’t prepared to deal with the objections? You wouldn’t be the first.
The key to overcoming objections is to:
- Prepare for possible objections
- Show concern for your prospect’s objections; and
- Validate the concerns of your prospect.
Preparing for objections is critical before meeting with your next prospect. Take the time to look back on past negotiations critically and use those observations to make a list of the objections you’re most likely to encounter. From there you can formulate a response for each one.
When you’re genuinely interested in and curious about their concerns and opinions, they’ll see you more as an ally and you’ll begin to build trust.
Once you’ve gained your prospect’s trust, you can:
- Acknowledge and validate their concerns
- Provide them with more information, and
- Help them see your product or service from a different perspective.
#4: Convert Demands Into Needs
After making an offer, the seller needs to protect their position. Many times, sellers are too quick to offer a reduction when hearing an objection over price, but this strategy doesn’t work.
Before negotiating on anything, it’s essential to understand the customer’s priorities vs. their demands. Having a fully informed negotiating strategy makes it easier to protect and maintain the original pricing and scope of work.
For example, an initial objection over price may have more to do with the buyer’s need for more flexibility. This could come in the way of an extended payment period, or less money upfront. A consultative approach is far more advantageous for both parties involved.
Converting demands into needs can only be achieved when the seller takes the time to listen to and acknowledge the original demands and use that information to reinforce the value of the deal and present different options.
#5: Collaborate to Protect the Value of the Sale
The seller’s ability to collaborate will determine how well they maximize the outcome of the sale. Effective collaboration requires the seller to understand how trading differs from making concessions.
A concession occurs when one party gives something up, but gets nothing in return, whereas trade is an exchange — the seller gives to get.
While trading is a necessary tactic in every negotiation, a strong-arm approach never works when the goal is to increase the value of a sale.
Understanding the true value of a trade requires understanding the other party’s needs through an assertive and empathetic approach to avoid future misunderstandings.
#6: Always Be Willing to Walk Away
Part of preparing for the negotiation part of a sale is learning when to recognize your walk-away point and knowing how to do it if the deal reaches a stalemate.
This doesn’t mean that you, as the seller, have failed. Oftentimes, it means that the buyer wasn’t prepared to complete the deal in the first place.
What are the signs?
- The terms keep changing after you’ve reached an agreement
- Your values are being compromised
- You can’t honor the demands
If you decide to walk away from any deal, do so with professionalism and courtesy, and never burn bridges. A deal lost today could be a deal made tomorrow.
#7: Keep Your Emotions in Check
Emotions can get the better of us in almost any situation, and in negotiations, negative emotions can seriously impede the negotiator.
It’s quite common for inexperienced or under-trained sales professionals to allow their sales pitch to devolve into an argument. When this happens, you’ve lost the opportunity to form a relationship and create a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.
No matter the personality or mood of the potential client, never lose your cool, stay grounded and steer the conversation back to neutral and friendlier territory.
#8: Identify the Decision Makers
It happens to the best of us. It’s the final stages of the negotiation. The agreement is on paper, all that’s needed is a signature, and your prospect informs you that they’re not the decision-maker.
This situation is all too common and results in lost time and money for all parties involved. But coming right out and asking if your prospect is the decision-maker may not get you a straight answer.
Ask your prospect how they like to handle buying decisions such as the one presented to them, or how they’ve handled them in the past.
This question should lead to obvious cues as to whether that person has the authority to make the deal, or is an agent acting on behalf of the decision-maker. You want to look for a sense of confidence as well as body language and verbal cues that support the response given.
However, if you find yourself in the company of the non-decision maker, this is okay too. The best thing to do is to adjust your strategy.
Gather information and insights that will help you reach an agreement when you’re in the company of the person making the decisions. It’s likely that the non-decision maker is a key influencer and may play a critical role in closing the sale.
#9: Seek Commitment
When a seller moves to close, it’s important that they first reinforce the value and the perceptions of the value of the deal.
Summarize your prospect’s gains and suggest actionable next steps to gain commitment.
Gaining commitment before closing the deal, even if sticking points need to be made into contingencies, will make it more difficult for the prospect to walk away from the deal altogether.
3 Ways to Increase Your Sales Using Our Negotiation Strategies
Want to know how to increase sales using negotiation strategies?
The Maker Group comprises top commercial negotiators with combined decades of experience. Our proprietary program and proven solutions take the guesswork out of negotiating.
Here are some of our top negotiation strategies.
#1: Build and Maintain Trust
These days, it’s almost impossible to make a deal if the negotiations lack trust. Let’s say a negotiator somehow manages to make a deal, the reality is that, without trust, the deal would be very difficult to implement.
Building trust is critical to forming any long-term relationship, business relationships included. Whether you’re the seller or the buyer, almost every deal bears consequences. A solid foundation of trust may be the only way to resolve issues with the deal that may arise in the future.
#2: Focus on a Mutually Beneficial Outcome
Usually referred to as a “win-win” negotiation, focusing on a mutually beneficial outcome is critical to the success of any deal.
Achieving a win-win means exploring the positions of all parties involved in a negotiation. Finding a mutually acceptable outcome that gives everyone as much of what they want as possible will mean everyone walks away a winner.
No matter what the trade is in a negotiation, all parties should feel comfortable with the outcome.
#3: Work Toward an Integrative Negotiation
Integrative negotiation is a high communication, low aggression transaction. A classic example is “two people and an orange”.
Let’s say that there’s one orange in the fruit bowl and two people reach for it at the same time. Logic would suggest that they should split the orange in half and everyone is happy, right?
Not necessarily. This solution would refer to distributive bargaining.
In integrative negotiation, each party might ask the other why they want the orange, and in the process, they discover that one wanted to eat the orange while the other needed the peel to bake a cake.
The integrative negotiation obviously worked out for the better. In integrative negotiation, each party works toward understanding what the others need out of the deal.
The Maker Group: Training and Consulting Services to Help Negotiators in Every Industry Increase Sales
If you’re a sales manager wondering how to enhance sales and increase profitability, look no further than negotiation training.
The best way to increase sales, simply put, is to protect the value of every sale, and that can only be done through skilled negotiation.
We understand the importance of negotiation skills and we can show you how to maximize the sales and negotiation potential within your team.
Are you ready to increase sales using a negotiation mindset?