When a sales professional chases a big sale (usually involving multiple products and services, ongoing arrangements and lots of money), negotiations become a critical component in securing and surviving the order.
Not a problem; unless the sales professional handling the big sale doesn’t know how to negotiate and then; well, 1-Minute Mastery is here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.
Let’s take a look at how a sales professional should prepare to successfully negotiate to win – and keep – the BIG sale.
Know Thine Antagonist
As William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” The words of the immortal bard are right on the money; especially when it comes to the working lives of sales professionals.
Each sale is a play in which protagonists (a Greek word which means, important actors; aka sales professionals) drive the action (the sales process) while antagonists (prospects) rebuff the action in the form of objections and/or questions) through a series of scenes euphemistically called the sales process.
As each character thrusts and parries each objection to a response and each question to an answer, the play moves forward, scene by scene, until the climax when negotiations end and the protagonist asks the antagonist for the order and the curtain drops.
It is critical for any sales professional; every sales professional to have a deep, visceral understanding of what motivates a prospect to want to buy a particular item or service at a specific point in time. Otherwise, the sales pro’s hands are tied because he or she can’t really be certain about when or even how to begin to negotiate.
Understanding what motivates a prospect to want to buy comes from answers to the following basic questions:
• What caused the prospect to decide to buy a product or service at this particular point in time?
• Is the prospect happy with the current supplier? If not, why not?
• When does the prospect need delivery and is delivery at that time critically important?
• From the prospect’s point of view, what is the most important aspect (availability, price, quality, etc.) of this purchase?
Prospects Ask for More Than They Expect
Sales professionals know, but often forget in the heat of the action on a sales stage, that most prospects ask for more than they know they’ll get.
However, there’s no shame in earning a fair profit on any product or service and most prospects understand that the seller who discounts too deeply may not have the financial ability to provide good customer service. Nevertheless, some prospects have a ‘maybe I’ll win the lottery’ mentality and will ask for an absurd discount, hoping that some poor yokel will cave in, just to get an order.
Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Fold ‘Em
Though he may not have been singing about the sales profession, Kenny Roger had it right.
It’s just as important to know when to hold fast on a negotiating position as it is to know when to give it up. If a sales professional quotes a ‘firm’ price for a particular product or service but then concedes too quickly (for whatever reason; anxiety, insecurity, etc.), the prospect gains an advantage and will press harder on every other point.
The truly effective negotiator never forgets that the bottom line is always the bottom line and therefore remains prepared to walk away from any sale that might cost more than it’s worth.
Never Fail to Ask For the Order
A winning sales professional never assumes anything and doesn’t stop negotiating unless and until all parties agree that the time has come to prepare a written agreement. Once terms, conditions and pricing, as negotiated, are defined in writing, all the sales professional has to do is ask an authorized person to sign the purchasing document and the BIG sale will be done.
Characteristics of a winning negotiation include the following:
• Everyone involved got everything they could realistically expect to get
• Everyone trusts that everyone else will keep their commitments
• Everyone is willing to negotiate again.