Businesses often find it challenging to sustain customer satisfaction. Yet, many different techniques exist to improve sales and customer satisfaction at the same time. Sales negotiation is one of the means you could use to achieve that. It definitely leads to a positive impact on your customer relations. However, it is often a skill that is ignored. There is no doubt that many people are born negotiators but for others, the skill can be difficult to master. The good news is negotiation can be learned and improved significantly with practice. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School’s Michael Wheeler, “lack of control” is one of the three top sources of negotiation anxiety. Gaining a sense of control is critical for your ability to negotiate a favourable outcome. 

Preparing yourself prior to the negotiation is key. Lack of knowledge leads to doubt on both sides of the negotiation, which can result in fizzed negotiations and lost sales. Doing research beforehand will help you anticipate so many aspects of negotiation. It’s a good way to prevent doubts and drive toward creating strong agreements. Sometimes, a  major reason people don’t plan is they don’t know the elements of good planning. These are the crucial steps to take: 

  • Identify your objectives and their objectives.
  • Brainstorm possibilities and trades (use a checklist).
  • Know your BATNA and Reservation Price.
  • Decide how to open.
  • Analyze leverage.

 

Here are 7 important negotiation techniques that your sales team need to master:  

  1. Decide on the concessions you are willing to accept in advance.
  2. Listen to what the prospect has to say first.
  3. Don’t split the difference.
  4. Wait until the conversation is over to revise the contract.
  5. Negotiate with the decision maker.
  6. Don’t focus only on discounts.
  7. Walk away if necessary.

 

  • Decide on the concessions you are willing to accept in advance.

Sometimes, it’s only when you start drafting up the contract that you realize you agreed to conditions you shouldn’t have accepted. For instance, a 30% discount or additional six months of support might seem perfectly acceptable but these might not give you the best outcomes. So, a good practice is to make sure to define the limits on price discounts, freebies, or other add-ons before you even meet with your prospect. Eventually, this will ensure you come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

 

  • Listen to what the prospect has to say first.

After having presented the terms of the deal, normally the prospect would like to negotiate them. It will be an advantage for you to allow them to start the conversation. In an attempt to be flexible, salespeople may be  tempted to offer a discount or an adjustment before the prospects even give their opinions. It would be wise to let them speak first and then continue the negotiation. 

 

  • Don’t split the difference.

Very often, splitting the difference does more harm than good. For instance, if the product or service costs $100 and the prospect wants a 50% discount, the salesperson shouldn’t counter with $75 although it seems logical to do so. A good thing to do is to offer a small discount and still keep the number close to the original price. It has been proven that the prospect will likely accept, and the margin is less affected. 

 

  • Wait until the conversation is over to revise the contract.

Negotiations normally take different turns. For example, various ideas are proposed, and while some will be accepted, others will be rejected. The salesperson needs to show patience and avoid revising the contract until the meeting has ended, and all parties have verbally agreed to the terms.

 

  • Negotiate with the decision maker.

According to a survey, though it might be obvious that a negotiation should be made with the decision-maker,  many salespeople make the mistake of negotiating with the wrong person. This can have a very negative impact afterwards when serious talks begin with the true decision maker. They’ll likely start at the already discounted price quoted in the first meeting. This represents a  great outcome for the prospect, but a poor one for the seller.

 

  • Don’t focus only on discounts.

It is certain that the most commonly negotiated aspect of a sales deal is price. This means that  salespeople should be ready to talk about discounts. Since price is tied to value, and value tied to a customer’s perception of and satisfaction with a product, it is a good idea for salespeople to consider offering other add-ons or freebies instead of a smaller price tag. However, keep in mind that the specific concessions a salesperson can offer depends on the situation.

 

  • Walk away if necessary.

Salespeople shouldn’t be willing to accept any exaggerated proposal a prospect throws at them. It is better to walk away from the deal if demands become unreasonable or unprofitable for the company. This is mainly because a customer who only agreed to sign if the contract was radically amended or the price was drastically dropped is bound to cause problems for the company afterwards. Besides, such requests from customers means that they clearly don’t see much value in the offering, so it’s only a matter of time before they become dissatisfied. 

 

Conclusion

Being well-prepared with the right plan, can help you build confidence, handle challenges and issues that come up along the way, and lead the way to successful agreements for both you and the buyer. Through sales negotiation training, you can learn how to identify your customers’ needs better. Understanding your customers puts you in a position to offer better services. By improving your customer relations, you may be able to attract and retain more customers.