We’ve all been there. You’re coming to the final stages of a negotiation and everything seems to be going well. Then suddenly you hit a brick wall. The other party has taken a hard right turn and is demanding a discounted price that’s significantly lower than your target price. This is price pressure, and you likely know exactly what it sounds like: “Come on, what’s your best and final price?”
As common as this scenario is, many salespeople are woefully unprepared for it. They often feel there’s little choice but to buckle under the pressure and settle for a less-than-ideal deal. Alternatively, they take it as a personal attack from the customer and let their emotions get the better of them – walking away prematurely and damaging all chance of a long-term relationship.
While every negotiation setting is unique and needs to be treated as such, there are right ways and wrong ways to deal with price pressure. Here are five guidelines to ensure you and your sales team don’t sell yourselves short.
1. Position your case around value
When you position your case around price, you’re not only focusing on the wrong thing – you’re actually encouraging the other party to do the same. Instead, position your case around value from the very start of the negotiation, by creating a strong, value-based theme that you repeat often. Showing this kind of conviction often lowers the buyer’s expectations regarding price concessions, and reinforces the value of your offer in their mind.
2. Compare value, not price
When exerting price pressure, customers often play the competitor card. “Why are your prices so much higher than company X, Y, and Z?” In this situation, avoid asking what the competitor’s price actually is. This plays the customer’s game by re-framing the negotiation in terms of price and possible discounts. It’s far more effective to keep value as the primary focus, highlighting how your offering does a better job of addressing the clients actual needs.
3. Build wiggle room into your proposals
Just as a master chess player is always a number of moves ahead of their opponent, you should anticipate the moves of your negotiating opponent and prepare accordingly. There are a few ways you can do this. For instance, you can start with a higher price that has a fair bit of flexibility to accommodate a price concession. You can also scope more features into your initial proposal than you would otherwise, giving you items to remove that can justify cutting the price. Remember: when a customer expects to get less by paying less, they’ll be less inclined to exert price pressure.
4. Concede slowly and reluctantly
If you follow the previous guideline, you’ll have breathing room to make a few concessions. But how you make those concessions is arguably more important than what you concede. For example, if you concede all your leeway at once, the customer will likely feel emboldened to ask for more. It is far more effective to make concessions slowly and reluctantly, thereby increasing the perceived value of your offer.
5. Exchange price concessions for true commitment
The last guideline for price pressure we’ll cover in this piece involves extracting as much value as possible from a potentially tricky situation. When you have little option but to make a price concession, only do so in exchange for a strong commitment on their part. For instance, you could get them to commit to the deal in a shorter period of time, or suggest they commit to a longer-term contract. Just make sure the commitment you receive satisfies a genuine need.
RED BEAR Negotiation Company is a global performance improvement firm dedicated to maximizing the profitability of the agreements negotiated with customers, suppliers, partners, and colleagues. If you’re interested in empowering your sales team with world-class negotiation skills, fill out the form below or click here for more information.