Negotiation Is a Fundamental Selling Skill

Negotiation in selling is quite a complex subject matter if we decide to analyse it in any great detail. Today in this article I’m not going to reach those depths as I will attempt to break it down to the most essential elements that I believe count the most when it comes to getting results. We all want the “Perfect Sale” but this can’t really be achieved in most cases without some form of negotiation. Everybody uses negotiation in their everyday lives but some of us are better at it than others. Remember, in every negotiation there is always someone who comes out better. An expert sales negotiator can make a customer feel like they have “won” when in reality they haven’t.

1. Expected Outcome

We cannot go into a negotiation successfully without having a clear picture in our head of the outcome we expect. We need to know the exact threshold of compromise if this is indeed one of our options. On the other hand, if we are able to give concessions it would be a much better strategy to incorporate these into the plan beforehand, so they can become that “extra card up the sleeve” when needed.

2. Positive Attitude

It’s critically important to enter sales negotiation with a positive attitude in order to set the correct tone right from the outset. This can be helped by analysing all the competitive advantages and benefits beforehand which will in turn strengthen confidence in a successful outcome. Positivity is contagious and can therefore also influence the prospect’s general attitude, making it more difficult for them to be negative.

3. Reading The Situation

Reading the prospect’s state of mind and personality profile is probably one of the key factors in determining whether a sales negotiation will be successful or not. If you know how someone will react negatively or positively to certain behaviour you will be more likely to follow the flow of the surrounding energy. The one thing that you can never do in a sales negotiation is to contrast the prospect’s opinion, whether they are right or wrong. I see this a lot so it’s by no means obvious. Sales people often react instinctively when they don’t like what the customer is saying. In my mind, this is like running out of petrol while driving through a dangerous ghetto. You’ve got yourself into trouble, but how are you going to get out of it?

In an ideal scenario the best negotiator, like a good chess player, will be able to look one or two steps ahead. This will depend on “Insight” and the ability to predict behaviour from the other side of the negotiating table. Obviously we can’t always predict the outcome of the prospect’s reaction but even if we can predict 60 or 70% we already have a distinct advantage.

4. Patience

Never over-react to the reaction. In fact reacting during the negotiating phase is bad in general. It would be much wiser to “respond” with a solution rather than reply with “impulsive” or “emotive” reactions. The best poker player never shows emotions and all great sales negotiators should do the same.

One good example of this could be negotiating on price. If the customer asks for a reduction in price, any signs of a chink in the seller’s armoury could easily lead to a loss of control and a different perception of the overall value on the part of the prospective buyer.

So always remember that a little bit of brainstorming and planning before the sales negotiation will give the sales person the edge.