Forget about “win-win” outcomes and start playing to win. That’s your job as a sales professional, to win for your team.
There are few one-size-fits-all solutions in sales and negotiation is no exception.
Negotiation complexity shifts with the situation.
Enterprise level and long-cycle complex sales negotiation is much different from transactional, one-call-close haggling.
Negotiation with a stakeholder who works for a business is different from negotiation with a business owner.
Negotiation with C-level and senior executives is far different from working out a deal with a middle manager.
Negotiating with procurement is vastly different from negotiating with an engaged stakeholder.
B2B negotiation is different from negotiating with individual consumers in B2C sales.
Negotiating over physical products is different from negotiating for intangible services and software.
Yet, as a sales professional, no matter your industry, product, service, or the complexity of your sale, you are going to have to negotiate with stakeholders.
Though context matters, there are seven rules of sales negotiation common to all sales situations that will guide you on your journey to mastering sales negotiation skills. These rules are the foundation for the lessons in my new book, INKED.
I promise that when you internalize these rules and play by them, you will become a more effective negotiator, you will bring home more profitable accounts for your company, and your income will grow.
Win First, Then Negotiate
This is rule one in sales negotiation. It’s also the rule that most salespeople consistently violate. Getting the timing wrong with negotiation causes you to give your leverage away early and for free.
Do not negotiate until your stakeholders have named you the vendor of choice (VOC)—either explicitly or implicitly.
Before that point, you are not negotiating.
You may be dealing with price objections, bidding against your competitors, using price concessions as a differentiation tool, or negotiating with yourself, but you are not in a sales negotiation with the buyer.
Play to Win
Forget about “win-win” outcomes and start playing to win. Your job as a sales professional is to win for your team.
To become an effective sales negotiator, you must gain a clear picture of the negotiation chess board before you enter the game and get comfortable with winning for your team.
In all but the most transactional deals, the relationship matters.
You cannot use hard-nosed tactics and cheesy negotiation gambits if you want to retain your customers over the long term.
Therefore, you must win for your team and protect your relationships with stakeholders.
These two endeavors are not mutually exclusive. This requires mastering Sales EQ and dual process communication—a focus on empathy and outcome.
Emotional Discipline Wins
At the sales negotiation table, the person who exerts the greatest amount of emotional control has the highest probability of getting the outcome they desire.
Mastering sales negotiation begins and ends with mastering your own disruptive emotions.
To Master Sales Negotiation, You Must Master the Sales Process
The real secret to mastering sales negotiation is mastering the sales process. There is no negotiation technique, no move, no play, no gambit that will save you from a failure to follow and execute the sales process.
Being an effective closer, making the case for change, gathering the ammunition you need to minimize objections, and gaining the leverage to negotiate effectively and win for your team require excellence throughout the entire sales process—step, by step, by step, by step.
Never Give Leverage Away for Free
When you have something someone else wants, you have leverage. You may use leverage to compel people to change their behavior, change the shape of time, move toward your position, and make concessions.
For this reason, leverage is currency, and it must be used as such. It has value and must be exchanged for value. Effective sales negotiators never give away leverage without getting some- thing of equal or greater value in return.
Eliminate and Neutralize Alternatives
Buyers derive power at the sales negotiation table through alternatives to negotiating an outcome with you.
The more alternatives they have, the stronger their power position and the weaker yours.
Therefore, your overriding focus throughout the sales process journey must be on improving your power position and win probability by eliminating or neutralizing the buyer’s perceived alternatives to doing business with you.