10 selling techniques to improve your negotiation skills
Technique #1: Prepare your sales meeting Technique #2: Make an initial offer in your favor Technique #3: Don’t make too many compromises Technique #4: Ask for something in return for each trade-off Technique #5: Reverse roles to improve negotiation Technique #6: Give as little as possible Technique #7: Stay in control of the negotiation Technique #8: Take a break when there is a conflict Technique #9: Don't lose time over a prospect who doesn't want to listen Technique #10: Close the sale with a written and signed contract
What are the best selling techniques?
To conduct sales negotiations, reach agreements and convince customers, sales representatives prepare negotiations with great care. They also listen carefully to find out their prospects’ motivations and how to deal with their objections.
Communication is at the heart of good customer relationship management: a decision to purchase is not based solely on the price of a service or product. From negotiating trade-offs to exclusive partnerships and other selling techniques, sales representatives have a good margin for negotiation.
If you haven't attended business school and you are looking for advanced selling techniques, this article is for you! Become a pro at negotiating by using these 10 selling techniques!
Technique #1: Prepare your sales meeting
To succeed in a negotiation, you must prepare it beforehand. The best sales negotiations are the ones that result in a win-win agreement, where both the seller and the buyer believe that they are getting a good deal.
The first selling technique is therefore to define :
- All the points that can be discussed during the negotiation,
- The compromises you are willing to make,
- The trade-offs you can ask your prospect or client for,
- The potential compromises the buyer is willing to make for you.
During the negotiation stage, the seller and the buyer are likely to discuss many elements such as the quality of the product or service compared to competitors. This may include: price, delivery terms, payment terms, possible options, discounts and promotions under certain conditions, warranty extensions, a maintenance contract at a preferential rate, etc.
A sales representative must, therefore, study the profile of the company he is dealing with to make an offer that is adapted to the client's needs. Moreover, he should be prepared for any objections by preparing his negotiating arguments in advance.
Technique #2: Make an initial offer in your favor
You have to be daring and ambitious right from the start of sales negotiations. The buyer will expect a first offer that is in your favor. Whereas the seller will expect the buyer to turn down his first offer.
This first sales offer is simply used to set the bar very high: this selling technique helps to put you in a position that you can negotiate from afterward.
Imagine salespeople who would start their negotiation shy by offering trade-offs right from the start. The buyer will not hesitate to take advantage of them and ask for more, to reap even more benefits!
You will have to set a starting position and keep in mind your breaking point, i.e. a threshold of trade-offs not to be exceeded. Passing this breaking point would result in a loss for you and would reduce your company's margin.
Moreover, you should have a margin of negotiation. It should be between a very high requirement that you announce at the beginning of the sales negotiation (and which would be in your favor), and one which is not beneficial to you nor your company.
Each person will, therefore, try to negotiate on elements to get compromises from the other.
Technique #3: Don’t make too many compromises
The first reaction you may get from the buyer is “it's too expensive!”.
Your reflex should be to simply ask:
- Why is it expensive?
- What are you comparing it to?
- The competitor's product may seem cheaper, but is it of the same quality?
- What services are included in the price?
You have to stand your ground when you are asked to make compromises. This is why you should prepare your negotiation meeting in advance.
Not resisting and making compromises immediately could mean that you have a poor product: if you make compromises without negotiating, the buyer may be suspicious.
Whereas if you argue by dealing with objections, you take the opportunity to show the buyer the quality or the benefits of your product or service by comparing it to your competitors!
If the prospect is aware of the value of your product, but still finds your price too expensive, you should open the conversation on other options. This will help you identify pain points that you can use during the negotiation to see where the buyer is ready to make trade-offs.
Technique #4: Ask for something in return for each trade-off
During your preparation, list elements that you are willing to make trade-offs on.
Making a trade-off is not mandatory; in fact, the fewer trade-offs you make, the more the negotiation works to your advantage.
You will have to study the customer and identify what he would be willing to negotiate on, what really matters to him.
If he asks you to make a trade-off, you have to show that you are making an effort, but that you are also asking for something in return.
Here is an example of a successful sales negotiation:
If there is a disagreement about the price, you can offer an ultimatum. You can make an effort to lower the price if your customer guarantees in writing that he will place more orders over a given period. It is a win-win situation for both parties!
In this case, the negotiation results in a win-win agreement for both parties:
- the buyer has been granted a lower price,
- the sales representative signed a contract for more orders.
When a sales representative asks a prospect or customer for a trade-off, he opens a dialogue and identifies something he can negotiate on.
Technique #5: Reverse roles to improve negotiation
When a buyer asks a seller to make a trade-off, the buyer puts himself in a position of power.
If the seller is ready to grant him this trade-off for something in return, the balance of power is then reversed. The seller will play the role of the buyer who must be satisfied with the offer!
This technique is an ideal way to get compromises to your advantage when offering trade-offs to a customer. For sales representatives, it involves listening carefully to identify key negotiation points you can lever because they are important to the buyer.
It's a bit like playing chess: it's all about strategy, you have to know how to move your pawns (your sales arguments) forward at the right time...
The seller can, therefore, seize the most opportune moment to win one of the key elements he wanted to obtain from the negotiation.
Technique #6: Give as little as possible
Knowing how to make compromises by insisting on trade-offs is a key part of a negotiation. However, your goal should always be to make as few compromises as possible and above all, you should take them with caution and patience.
A skilled salesman is persistent. Just like a skilled poker player, he does not play all of his best cards at the beginning of the game.
Nothing is better than to detect an opponent's game by moving forward step by step. The salesman thus focuses on defending his positions to get the best possible sales terms.
Yielding to the first objection means starting a negotiation with one step backward. The customer will take advantage of this to ask for more advantages because he identified an "easy prey".
This is why it is important to know how to deal with objections. You can be flexible at times, but you must request trade-offs in return. Finally, you should know how to back down in a calculated way, keeping in mind your margin of negotiation.
Technique #7: Stay in control of the negotiation
Some buyers will go off-topic during negotiations, either to distract you and make you forget the trade-offs you asked for, or simply because they are very talkative.
You can use this to create a bond with the buyer and build a positive atmosphere during negotiations (we're all human after all). However, you should not do this for too long and you should gently bring them back to the main topic of the negotiation.
An excellent salesperson leads the negotiation, he or she doesn't suffer it. He guides the customer where he wants to take him. This can be done by listening to him and making him talk to understand and identify pain points, and then know how to leverage them when negotiating.
Moreover, sometimes the buyer can be aggressive. To deal with this type of behavior and to remove tensions, you need to keep calm, remain polite and could even invite the person you are dealing with to take a break for a coffee.
This will allow you to understand the buyer’s behavior and he will notice your listening skills and your willingness to resolve points of conflict, and this should calm him down.
Technique #8: Take a break when there is a conflict
Are you dealing with a difficult client who won't compromise?
Sometimes customers ask for too many discounts and don’t want to give up anything in return. Don't get stuck in a dead-end: suggest writing this down and coming back to it later.
When putting a negotiation on hold, you may find other solutions that satisfy the needs of both parties. And, when the time is right, you can come back and negotiate the initial point of conflict.
Example of a successful business negotiation :
- The customer requests a price that is too low;
- The salesperson offers to put this point of negotiation "on hold" and promises to come back to it later;
- During the negotiation, the salesman realizes that his customer has issues managing his stocks and that his deliveries are always late;
- The seller takes leverages this to offer a lower price in exchange for an exclusive contract. This contract commits the selling company to deliver the number of goods before deadlines;
- The buyer sees a concrete solution to his problems and accepts the offer;
- Both the seller and the buyer get a good deal.
Technique #9: Don't lose time over a prospect who doesn't want to listen
You have tried everything, you have been patient, you have listened to your prospect's expectations and have made several offers that benefit both parties, but your prospect refuses to budge.
It is rare to have a prospect that wants to win on all fronts or is dishonest or acting in bad faith, but it can happen.
In this case, it is better to cut the sales meeting short: you will not be able to sell him anything, other than at a loss.
Some prospects are customers you do not want to have: they will not make any compromises or give your business anything in return.
A well-trained salesperson can detect the types of customers he should avoid quickly.
This should not be seen as a failure, but as a waste of time that you should reduce so that you can focus on customers who are really worthwhile.
Technique #10: Close the sale with a written and signed contract
Once both parties have agreed to all of the terms of the negotiation, the next step is to close the sale with a signed contract.
This binds the customer and the seller in writing, and only a signed contract has a market value.
The seller must put in writing all the elements and conditions that have been negotiated.
Never postpone the signing of a contract: you must strike while the iron is still hot. Your client may try to renegotiate later, even though he agreed with you during the first sales meeting.
It is therefore up to the salesperson to conclude the sale with a signed document that confirms and establishes the terms of the sales agreement.
The usual handshake comes after this. You should also say "thank you" to your prospect for his hospitality and for having listened to you.
Make sure you made a good impression: a positive experience with a prospect or customer helps to build your company’s image!
To manage your sales team efficiently, we recommend using business development tools. Sales representatives need the right tools to centralize information in a shared customer file and carry out a bespoke follow-up for each customer.
You can improve sales processes and reduce customer churn if your sales team is organized and share information with one another.
Do you want to know when will be the right time to make an appointment with a specific customer? Write a reminder in a month: you will improve your planning skills and keep track of all customers!
Sales representatives have to keep track of the status of their relationship with each customer, and to be more precise :
- Has the prospect become a customer?
- What did he purchase?
- What are the current orders?
- Is he paying on time?
- Were there any late deliveries?
- What is important to him?
The secret of successful customer relationship management is the alignment between the marketing and sales departments. Based on the same information, prospects and customers receive personalized offers and targeted sales proposals.
Would you like to complete this article with other selling techniques? Share your tips and leave a comment!