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A Step by Step Guide to Win-win Negotiations

win win sales negotiations


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Achieving win-win sales negotiation outcomes requires sales professionals to follow a series of steps throughout the conversation. Below is a quick guide outlining win-win negotiation steps to help you structure this process by understanding what to do at each phase of the process.

Step 1: Pre-Negotiation

In the pre-negotiation phase, the buyer and seller decide to pursue a business relationship.

The buyer will have completed “due diligence” and have determined that the seller is worth further investigation. On the other side of the table, the seller is determining whether or not their solution matches the buyer's needs and build a strategy to appeal to the buyer.

Step 2: The Opening

The next step in structuring a win-win sales negotiation is presenting a proposal. This can occur either at the meeting or beforehand in writing or by telephone. If a written proposal is sent before the meeting, the seller should spend much less time going over the details. The seller should consider having a draft written proposal at the meeting, even if that is the first contact. Edit as appropriate, and send it to the client as confirmation as soon as possible after the meeting ends.

In all cases, the seller should focus on being as friendly as possible, aiming to build mutual trust and confidence. Start with the basics — arrive on time and turn your cell phone off.

Present the details if no proposal was sent earlier. Or, ask if the client was able to read your proposal, and then, summarize.

A proposal should basically describe the product or service, the schedule for delivery, the cost, and the schedule for payment. Stress the advantages to the client.

Either side can open discussions, but the one who makes the first move in presenting ideas and details sets the agenda for discussion. This side has the advantage in discussions.

Step 3: The Counter-opening

At this step in the negotiation, the client responds to the proposal. At this time the seller should listen, maybe asking a few clarifying questions. If the potential client has made a more detailed than normal presentation or request for proposal, the substantive discussion starts here.

Step 4: Convert Demands to Needs

This step occurs within the ongoing sales conversation.  The seller must ask appropriate questions to separate demands and wants from actual needs.

One way to do this is to find out what the customer wants to accomplish, not just what products or services they want. The seller should seek out what the customer really wants as early as possible in the conversation so they can start working to fine-tune their value proposition.

Try to determine the personal agenda of the client contact and of anyone else who has to approve. The best way to do this might be to just ask.

Step 5: Value Justification and Trading

During this win-win sales negotiation step, the buyer and seller discuss trade-offs to find agreement on differing terms. For example, if the client wants to stretch out payments, for example, trade this for a higher price.

The sales professional should be creative and flexible, but avoid concessions as much as possible, and be prepared to symbolically walk out of the meeting if a point cannot be settled. Don’t storm out. Adjourn the meeting to a future date.

Step 5: Closing the Meeting

End the meeting. The sales professional should always be the person to summarize the conversation — first verbally and then in writing and in more detail. This lets the sales professional continue to set the agenda.

Step 6: Follow-up

The sales professional must always take responsibility for carrying out the next steps. Sales professionals might consider sending a thank-you e-mail to the client as soon as they return to the office. Then, send a more detailed response in a few days.

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