Much negotiation training concentrates on the methods that buyers can use to get a good deal from salespeople. The buyer apparently has power over the seller.
The more challenging exercise is for the seller to negotiate a profitable deal with straightforward terms and conditions, even when up against a tough negotiator on the buyer side.
Most solution selling activity is aimed at persuading the customer to buy the product or service. It is not always focussed enough on what the customer pays. When buying activity is aimed at minimising the price, negotiation often takes the form of playing one supplier off against another. Selling the product is easy – just have the lowest price. Getting a good price for the product or service demands real skill.
Selling and negotiation are very different skills. In a typical B2B sales situation the salesperson assumes very little power over the buyer because the buyer has the ‘power of the alternative’ (i.e. other suppliers). The salesperson’s task thus becomes creating a sufficiently great need for the product or service for the customer to pay the price.
At Advance we see negotiation as a continuous process where part of the salesperson’s job throughout the sale is to build their power base so they can negotiate without giving away margin. Our ‘Negotiation and Objection Handling’ training programmes equip sellers with the skills they need to change the rules. We use a straightforward process that maximises the chance of success.
Here are seven practical ways of equipping your sellers for successful negotiation.
1) Qualify the deal
Structure the whole process of qualification in a simple framework such as SCOTSMAN®, to ensure time is not wasted on unwinnable deals. Some opportunities will be winnable. You should qualify out of the others quickly.
Buyers may raise objections that need to be tested by the seller – does the deal depend on them being overcome? Objections also come up unexpectedly at the end of the sale. Both types of objection are evidence of weak and/or late qualification. It is possible to accelerate the selling process and increase the chances of winning by early, robust qualification that removes predictable negotiation problems.
customers’ genuine concerns and overcome objections
Objections can become deal killers. If sellers can’t change the rules and gain the appropriate commitments from the customer, they will lose the deal. By overcoming these objections, so called ‘objection handling’ simply becomes a minor negotiation around the final issues. Do your people know how to do this?
different negotiation styles
Negotiators usually fall into one of five behaviour-based categories, personified as aggressor, co-operator, ditherer, analyser or idealist. So, it’s important for every seller to be aware of these, quickly recognise the tell-tale traits and adjust their behaviour accordingly. Adopting the wrong style will have a negative impact on the negotiation, and could well cause you to lose the deal.
5) Shift the power
through customer commitments
Sellers must better align themselves with the buying process so they see it rather like a series of chess moves, where effective need creation and the gaining of customer commitments moves the balance of power in their direction. We all know that the customer will want to negotiate on price and terms at the very end of the sale, so knowing how to bargain is critical, and bargaining with a good balance of power, highly desirable.
6) Adopt Commitment
Negotiating, and ultimately winning, the sale is achieved through an accumulation of customer commitments. Ask for timely, appropriate commitments from the prospect that will smooth the way forward towards winning the sale. This approach provides structure to progressing the sale by identifying what practical, ongoing steps we need the customer to take if we are to win.
7) Deploy the
‘Close before the Close’ model
It can sometimes be difficult to know what commitments to ask for at the end of a sales meeting. A useful transition from the body of the meeting to its close is to ask something like “What do you think of it?”. This is the ‘close before the close’. If the buyer has any concerns, they will raise them. Because you’re just being helpful, you can have an open, nonconfrontational discussion about what are in fact, objections. Clearly this approach is not possible once you’ve asked for the order.
To find out more about this and our other programmes, click here.