Negotiation is an essential part of the sales process and a salesperson’s ability to negotiate with prospective clients can go a long way towards determining how successful they are in their role. However, if you want your team to get good at negotiating, they should be aware of the pitfalls they need to stay away from.
1. A lack of clear targets
Successful sales negotiation requires preparation, but this is an area where many sales teams fall short. Prior to entering into any negotiation, the people involved must know exactly what they are looking to get out of the deal. For this reason, your sales training needs to emphasise the importance of going in with targets in mind.
This means knowing the ideal outcome, as well as the worst acceptable one. This will allow sales staff to better judge negotiations as they go along, understanding when to try and push for a little bit more, when to accept the offer that’s on the table, and even when to walk away from the negotiating table completely.
2. Adversarial thinking
One of the most fatal negotiation mistakes is to think of negotiation in adversarial terms, with a winner and a loser. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is prevalent and can be toxic. Instead, negotiations should be approached as a friendly conversation, where you discover how you can help a prospect and discuss what it would take to do so.
‘You need to think of your prospects as partners, not enemies,’ says Leslie Ye, editor writing for Hubspot. ‘Find a mutually beneficial solution for you and your prospect instead of playing hardball to suck every last nickel out.’
3. Selling instead of solving
For any salesperson, the ultimate goal is to sell a product or service, but in doing so, many salespeople overlook the fact that the thing they are selling is designed to meet a need, solve a problem, or satisfy a want. As a result, you cannot successfully negotiate based on the product or service alone.
Your business could have the best quality product of its kind, but nobody is going to buy it from you unless you can convey to them why they should. During negotiations, the needs and wants of a prospect should always be at the forefront and you should be aiming to provide them with solutions to add value to your proposition and stand out from your competitors’, rather than simply products or services.
4. Not moving beyond price
Finally, another big mistake your salespeople could well be making is focusing almost entirely on price. While this is obviously one of the single most important areas to address, it is far from the only aspect to consider and there may be other things that can be negotiated in order to close a deal.
Your negotiation training should, therefore, aim to provide reps with other tricks to keep up their sleeves. Could you offer assistance with setting up a product, or implementing a service? Could you negotiate on when a payment is made? Maybe you could throw in extras, or guarantee a quick delivery date.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA marketing director of Miller Heiman Group.
Further reading on negotiation
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