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Winning The Sale Without Thinning The Sale with Negotiation Skills

winning sales approach

ben-taylorSeptember 12, 2017

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Too often we think of selling strategy and negotiating strategy as two separate ends of a timeline. In truth, they exist together on a spectrum. Every moment of selling involves some amount of negotiating. Therefore, every conversation places another brick in the road toward closing a sale.

Effective sellers keep this in mind by shaping the customer’s perception of value. Keeping this approach in the context of the customer’s needs and priorities creates negotiations that are mutually beneficial rather than an exercise of blunt force. The result is a handshake - not an arm wrestle.

How Consultative Negotiations is Different

A consultative approach to sales negotiation training helps sellers learn to understand the deeper needs of the customer as the finish line comes more clearly into view. This collaborative engagement rises above the adversarial dynamic that many associate with the word “negotiation.” However, being consultative doesn’t mean relinquishing ground. In fact, consultative negotiators understand how to control a negotiation and arrive at a mutually-beneficial outcome.

They win by:

Strengthening Relationships

Relationships are powerful. In fact, Gallup reports that “B2Bs win by building relationships, not selling on price.” Their research concluded that nearly one-quarter of accounts that had “high engagement scores” with sellers grew by 20% or more in the following year. Strengthening a relationship helps keep the seller at the fore of the customer’s mind. A stronger connection establishes trust and respect, both of which are important for successful negotiations.

Emphasizing the Value They’ve Created

Technology has equipped customers with the power to access greater resources. This development explains findings from Forrester showing that “Seventy to ninety percent of the B2B customer journey is completed before sales reps are typically engaged.” Data today is ever-present. Customers get the haystack faster than ever. However, sellers are still necessary for finding the needle. Emphasize value with a focused approach that is customized to the customer’s need.

Applying Current Research on How People Make Decisions

Negotiating goes beyond numbers. Harvard Business Review reported on a study from Wharton and MIT which “shows that people with higher EQ [emotional intelligence] are more likely to induce positive mood states in their negotiation counterparts and leave them more satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation.” EQ is considered one’s ability to see themselves as others see them and manage one’s own emotions. Savvy sellers can use findings like this to guide the outcome of negotiations.

Transforming an Adversarial Mindset to One of Collaboration

Successful sellers must be mindful of their presence. It’s difficult, or perhaps impossible, to reset the tone if a customer begins to see the seller as adversarial. Sellers can prevent this outcome by avoiding “piecemeal” negotiating, putting incomplete opening terms on the table. This fragmented approach doesn’t convey the sense of collaboration necessary for closing a sale. Keep the conversation transparent with clearly stated goals and solution capabilities.

Guiding the Negotiation to a Mutually Successful Result

Negotiating doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game. However, a win-win outcome still requires that the seller protects their desired outcome. With a consultative approach, sellers can achieve this end with a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs. This insight enables sellers to craft solutions that fit underlying needs without relinquishing critical terms.

Increasing Trust and Grow the Potential for Future Business

Information exchange is the foundation of trust and trust is the foundation of future business. This truth is reflected in research from Clemson University where experimenters learned that “buyers’ monetary cost increased as information increased, suggesting that sellers might profit from information exchange and, indirectly, from trust.” Moreover, a trusting partnership helps accelerate future deals because the foundation is already built.

Executing these strategies is more difficult than ever. Pricing pressures, competition, and technology all create challenges. That’s why sellers need a consistent set of practices that form a path to the sale. The power of such a framework is its applicability across various negotiations and customers.

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