The high-tension environment of a sales negotiation is nothing to fear. Becoming familiar with the tension and learning to navigate it tactfully is the key to closing deals and building relationships.
You may have come across or attempted many different “close the deal” sales tactics. But what works? How can your team leverage the right tools and master the art of negotiation?
Sales are dynamic. You won’t find a single strategy that works every time. What you will discover are principles that can help you uncover the real needs of your customers, understand your value, and much more.
What You Get with Manipulative Sales Tactics
What are manipulative sales tactics? In short, they are any action taken to further one’s self-interest. For some, though, it can stir up memories of sleazy and manipulative strategies taken in bad faith.
As you might imagine, you don’t want to portray your intentions as manipulative.
Always remember the future value of strong bonds and relationships. Negotiating a great deal can feel like the main goal, but how you close the deal is just as important.
Manipulative sales tactics drive the negotiation toward unsavory win-lose scenarios. These damage relationships and future lucrative deals.
The truth is, you should ground the methods you employ in the spirit of collaboration and competition. Finding a perfect solution for both sides is much more advantageous than an outcome benefiting only one.
So, with this in mind, let’s explore some sales principles you can use to get the most out of a sales negotiation.
Knowing How to Position Your Product or Service
When we say position, we mean describing your products in a concise and value-driven way.
It’s all about positioning your case to influence value in a negotiation. Ask yourself, why your product or service?
What it’s not about is drowning your customers in a barrage of benefits. In fact, skilled negotiators will use half as much data compared to their average counterparts.
Skilled negotiators will use half as much data compared to their average counterparts.
Rather than unloading a bloated data-heavy description, be discreet with what strong points you highlight. This will become the “positioning theme” supporting your negotiations throughout the entire sales process. Your data should support the theme, not the other way around.
Demonstrating value is all about how you describe your product or service.
When in doubt, focus on these questions:
- Is your pitch brief?
- Is it compelling?
- Can you repeat your position and get similar results?
Just remember, value is subjective. What matters for one client won’t necessarily be the same for another. Your job is to provide value to each customer individually.
Setting the Right Targets
What are the consequences of setting targets too low? Simply put, you’re leaving money on the table and lowering the value of your product or service in your client's eyes.
Those who ask for less get less.
Alternatively, and the point you should take away, if you ask for more, you usually get more. That’s the foundation of setting the right targets — and remember to think of targets in both price and non-price terms.
Setting the right targets isn’t about wringing every last dollar out of your customers.
You should leverage target setting as a means to test relevant boundaries. This can lead you toward other areas of flexibility outside of price:
- Getting access to key individuals
- Flexibility in the schedule
- Favorable contract language
You only know if you ask.
It’s also critical to understand how target setting affects customer perception. The targets you offer will directly translate to perceived value. You can always lower targets, but raising them after the customer makes their initial judgments is almost impossible.
Managing Information Correctly
Information is critical to negotiations. It’s not just the information about your product or service, though.
This is a common misconception about managing information. In reality, you’ll find three information areas that have relevance during the negotiation process:
- Information you leverage
- Information you protect
- Information you uncover
Information is a valuable resource. You should strategically provide information when it creates a competitive advantage for your side and only share when it’s advantageous.
Of course, keep in mind you don’t want to lie or withhold ethical, legal, or contractual information.
But, you do want to protect sensitive information areas like price flexibility, internal deadlines, and other subjects. When you can, keep information close and don’t dump on your customer early in the negotiation process.
To do this, ask more questions and do less talking. Skilled negotiators ask two and one-half times the questions relative to their novice counterparts and do about a third of the talking.
Skilled negotiators ask two and one-half times the questions relative to their novice counterparts and do about a third of the talking.
Questions are powerful and can help you unlock the real valuable information — what your customer really needs.
Customers may not always be privy to sharing this kind of knowledge. So, be clear with your questioning, repeat yourself when necessary, and always utilize the power of listening.
Leveraging Your Strength and Power
One of the biggest mistakes a novice negotiator will make is thinking the other side has all the power.
It’s easy to do.
A skilled negotiator will fully understand their strengths and powers relative to the other party. This is a dynamic process that may change during negotiations.
Power is your ability to influence the outcome. Expert negotiators do this in a few ways:
- Analyzing the other side
- Assessing their strengths and weaknesses
- Managing all the factors that affect power
It’s all about power relative to the other party. But, keep in mind, power is perception.
If you believe your side is weak from the onset, you can bet negotiations won’t go your way. Most salespeople will work under this assumption.
The tense environment of a sales negotiation can be the main focal point for these inexperienced negotiators. It can blind your side from seeing the constraints of the other party. Therefore, it’s imperative to realize the strength of personal conviction.
If you can embrace the tension and believe in the value of you, leveraging power from all available sources becomes natural.
Satisfying Needs Over Wants
What does a customer really need?
It’s easy to get all wrapped up in the specifics of a deal, like price points, but be sure you uncover the customer’s underlying goals.
A want is something obvious and specific. Think price, quantity, or a particular ask.
Needs are subjective and less quantifiable. They are often the foundation that supports the specific wants. People are usually less likely to talk openly about their needs. It takes skill to uncover this kind of information.
Focus on patience, good questions, and the right listening skills. But, once you reveal the ultimate needs, you’re better positioned to create a scenario where both parties win.
Understanding a Proper Concessions Strategy
Concessions are critical to any good negotiation.
Conceding according to plan is about leveraging a give-and-take mentality that values collaboration over competition. But don’t fall into the trap of asking for too much too soon or not asking for enough during the initial negotiation stages.
Every customer has a “range of reason.” That is to say; a point exists at which the customer sees no possibility of closing on the deal.
Every customer has a “range of reason.”
Your goal is to find that edge. It’s often the case that amateur negotiators will shy away from finding this range to not appear as unreasonable. The unfortunate fact about this strategy is that it often leaves money on the table.
It’s more than price. Concessions can come in the form of access, flexibility, and other critical business demands.
It’s all a game of give and take. You want to ensure the goal of the negotiations isn't just about the sale; it’s also about building future relationships where customers return again and again.
Putting it All Together to Close the Deal
You’ll find many ways to navigate “close the deal” sales negotiations. What separates the expert negotiators and the inexperienced is how they get to the sale.
Using the proper strategy, your team can creatively develop win-win scenarios that build relationships and keep customers returning. Manipulative sales tactics may work in the short term, but they put you at a disadvantage for future opportunities.
If you're searching for the right negotiation training, RED BEAR Negotiation’s global team of experts can help you understand the in-and-outs of a proper strategy.
Negotiate and collaborate with customers using the right tools. Get started with negotiation training today.