Negotiation is a key skill in business.
That’s especially true in the sales sphere, where structuring deals can be a daily occurrence.
Negotiating is a bit of an art. Doing it effectively is a mix of skill, confidence, personality, and experience.
So today, we’re going to cover some sales negotiating tips to help you hone your skills, improve your confidence, close more deals, and set yourself ahead of the pack.
Let’s dive in.
1. Outline your objectives beforehand
You need to know what you WILL and WILL NOT agree to right from the beginning. That way, you won’t get caught up in the emotional heat of the moment and either:
- Agree to a deal that’s unacceptable or unfair
- Walk away from a deal that in hindsight was a fair and reasonable one
Remember to think about things other than just price. Other terms such as timing, responsibilities, scope of work, add-ons like support, freebies, etc. should also be outlined.
Determine where you have some flexibility and where you need to take a hard stance.
2. Go for the jugular! (No. No. No.)
Some people believe that the goal of a negotiation is to get the best possible deal, and walk away “the big winner.”
That could not be farther from the truth.
A negotiation is successful when BOTH parties walk away feeling like a good deal was made. Your goal from the get-go should be to achieve that balance.
When someone leaves the negotiation feeling like they were bullied, taken advantage of, or shortchanged, the relationship crumbles and the deal (and your reputation) is likely to suffer.
3. Use simple justifications
Most expert negotiators will tell you that, contrary to popular belief, going into to much detail to justify price, or other terms of the deal, can be worse than giving a general explanation. Why? You could give your prospect more fuel for counter-arguments if you give them too many details to disagree on.
4. Don’t lead off too low… or high
We all know the feeling of pricing too low at the start, and realizing a fairer deal could be had at a higher price point. Start off negotiations with some wiggle-room so you have flexibility as you come closer to a deal.
Same goes for starting too high. Don’t risk insulting your prospect and potentially bringing the negotiation to a premature end.
5. Wait until negotiations have ended before a firm agreement on anything
To put it simply, it’s not wise to offer an absolute agreement on anything until the entire deal is closed. Even if it’s something you’re perfectly happy to offer.
Why? As soon as you say something like: “Sure, we can absolutely do that,” or, “yeah, we always do that for customers,” you’re taking something of real value off the table as a bargaining chip.
Preserve the value of anything you offer during the negotiation by expressing a willingness, rather than a commitment, to include it in the deal.
6. Master the art of the counteroffer
Clearly if the terms of a proposed deal are unacceptable, then you have to counteroffer.
But what if they are within range of a reasonable? Should you counteroffer? Shouldn’t you? It’s tough to know sometimes.
Don’t risk negotiating just because you think you’re supposed to. If you have a deal in front of you that you are pretty happy with, be sure to weigh the potential gain you’re seeking in a counteroffer against the risk that it could derail the deal.
At the same time, understand that you won’t get more if you’re unwilling to ask. So as long as your ask is reasonable, it’s worth asking for.
It also helps to have some justification for a counteroffer. Consider the difference between:
- Would you do $1500?
- Our team is really committed to support, so we end up investing a lot of hours helping our customers succeed. Can we agree on $1500?
7. Keep emotion out of it
The key to getting a good deal comes down to being logical rather than emotional. You’re both at the table trying to come away with a deal that makes sense, so taking things personally or allowing tensions to get heated is a mistake.
This is another reason defining your objectives prior to the negotiation is so critical. It keeps your head clear and allows you to work within the confines of what is acceptable.
8. Stay likable
Sure, this is business. But there’s also a personal element to negotiations, and long-term relationships often begin at the negotiating table.
So consider your demeanor and be friendly, reasonable, and likeable. Not only does it improve the chances that your request are met with acceptance rather than rejection, but it also ensures that your relationship starts off on the right foot.
Be fair and reasonable. Try to deflate tension with humor. And simply be the kind of person that you would happily work with again.
Wrapping up how to supercharge your sales negotiation skills
Skilled negotiation takes practice. But there are some fundamental tips that anyone can use and apply to secure better results at the negotiation table. Here are 8 negotiation tips to
- Define your objectives before sitting at the negotiating table
- Seek a deal where everyone walks away a winner
- Use simple justifications
- Don’t start off too high, or low
- Don’t make commitments until finalizing the deal
- Master the art of the counteroffer
- Be logical, not emotional
- Be likeable