Mastering The Art and Skill of Sales Negotiation

Negotiating is one of the most important skills you can learn. However, by understanding the common difficulties faced during negotiation and arming themselves with the right knowledge and techniques, salespeople can develop the essential skills to excel in this critical aspect of their career.

Negotiating Is Hard, But The Right Skills Make It Easier

Sales negotiation can be a formidable challenge, particularly for new salespeople. The art of negotiation requires a delicate balance of strategy, communication, and adaptability.

It involves effectively advocating for your own value while understanding and addressing the needs of the other party, so as not to damage or destroy customer relationships.

The complexities of sales negotiation can feel overwhelming, leading to potential pitfalls, heavy discounting, and missed opportunities.

Learn to negotiate like a pro and your sales career will be much more rewarding, in all aspects.

Here are 8 keys to improving your negotiation skills.

What You’ll Learn

  • Always be prepared to walk away from a negotiation and have alternatives in mind.
  • Practice patience and don’t rush to respond to offers; silence can lead to better outcomes.
  • Maintain a professional and courteous demeanor to avoid confrontations and build better relationships.
  • Active listening is key to being heard and understanding the other party’s perspective.
  • Start negotiations by asking the other party about their expectations to align your approach.
  • Approach negotiations with excitement and convey enthusiasm for your offers.
  • Sales managers should encourage reps to develop negotiating skills through role-playing and practice.

Improve Your Negotiation Skills With These 8 Tips

Be Ready To Walk Away

NEVER negotiate for something for which you aren’t prepared to walk away. Once the person you are negotiating with knows you have to have what they are holding from you, they have the upper hand.

Make sure before you start the negotiation that you have alternatives or you can live without whatever they have. If you learn nothing else from this lesson, please learn and understand this point. Everything else follows behind it.

Be Patient

Be patient. Most people aren’t. Many times you will get what you want by just waiting out the other party. This point follows closely behind the second point. If you can live without whatever you are negotiating for, then you do have the luxury of being patient.

Along those lines, when talking over the phone or face to face, don’t respond immediately to an offer. Many times your silence will be taken as a sign that you do not care for their offer. This can be difficult, but you must bite your tongue.

Many times, having used this approach I have had the other party come back with something like, “Well, I can see you don’t like that idea, how about this…” and offer something better.

Be Professional and Courteous

You don’t want to appear confrontational. Never give someone a reason to want to “stick it to you.” I hear this frequently from sports coaches before big games.

They don’t want their players “trash-talking” about their opponents. They don’t want the other team to have any additional reason to fight harder to win.

Be Willing to Listen

You have a better chance of being heard if you really listen to the other person. Sometimes this requires parroting back to the other person what you believe you heard.

If the other person thinks that you are not listening or paying attention, they will become frustrated and either physically or mentally quit negotiating. There are plenty of books and articles on listening. Check one out before you start negotiating.

Ask For Expectations Up Front

Find out exactly what the other party wants early by asking them.

“What do you want out of this negotiation?” is a legitimate question that shows you care. It also helps you prepare what you are going to offer or concede before you open your mouth.

You may get someone trying to be coy with you and say something like, “I want to get the best deal possible.” You can respond with, “Come on, Joe. Let’s get it all on the table so we can work together to get this done.”

Let Them Win

Figure out how to let the other party win something from the negotiation.

Decide ahead of time what you can live without and keep that in your back pocket.

If you believe it may be of value to the other party, let them “win” it. Everybody likes to “save face” and be able to walk away feeling as though they won something.

Don’t Negotiate Angry

Never negotiate when either party is angry or distracted. You will be wasting your time.

And, if you do go ahead with the negotiation, you probably won’t get what you want.

Approach With Excitement

If you are the one starting the negotiation by making the first offer, be certain you convey your excitement about your offer.

You are thrilled you could offer this to them and nobody else. Many times people will accept this as they don’t want to disappoint you or start the relationship off on a negative note.

A Note for Sales Managers

You want sales reps that aren’t going to cave in the first time a prospect throws something at them that’s just a negotiating technique. Encourage them to learn negotiating skills and situational role play with them.

Sales negotiation isn’t easy, but it helps to have a framework to follow so that you know you’re getting the prices you want while preserving customer relationships. In our FREE guide, The Seven Steps To Effective Sales Negotiation, you’ll find you’ll find tips, techniques, and tactics that will help you go toe-to-toe with modern buyers and negotiate the prices, terms, and conditions you deserve. 

About the author

Louie Bernstein

I am not a sales trainer. I am a salesman. I have been successfully…

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