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Negotiation Styles and Techniques

Sales negotiations don’t have to be stressful. Savvy sales professionals who use the right negotiation styles and techniques throughout the conversation are much less likely to find themselves in a contentious situation in the final leg of the deal.

Understanding Sales Negotiation Styles

At the most basic level, there are two different types of sales negotiation styles:  consultative (also known as collaborative) and adversarial (also known as competitive).

Consultative Negotiation Style Characteristics

The consultative sales negotiation style puts the customer at the centre of the sales conversation from beginning to end. In every meeting, the sales professional is working to identify, understand and resolve customer objections so that when it comes time to finalise the deal, both parties are on the same page, and there is limited need to make any last-minute concessions.

Sellers who embrace a consultative negotiation style seek to achieve win-win outcomes to ensure that they close the current deal and build a foundation for a trusting and ongoing relationship.

Adversarial Negotiation Style Characteristics

The adversarial negotiation style puts out-negotiating the opposing party above all else. Individuals who employ an adversarial negotiation style view closing the final deal as a zero-sum game that they must “win” at any cost.

Sellers who are adversarial negotiators often rely on tactics to try to manipulate their customers. They will anchor to the best solution for them without looking for a mutually beneficial solution that actually serves the best interest of all parties.

Effective Negotiation Style

A consultative negotiation style is the best approach to managing negotiations with clients. However, there is an important nuance sales reps should keep in mind as they endeavour to execute this approach — being consultative does not mean giving up control.

Protecting the sales professional’s position means maintaining the scope of work and pricing. Many sales professionals who practise consultative negotiations make the mistake of moving to trading without a full sense of customer needs and priorities. As a result, they do not have a fully informed trading strategy, which often leads to an outcome in which the customer wins, but the sales professional misses out on an opportunity.

Negotiation Techniques for a Successful Sales Meeting

How does a sales professional effectively engage their clients in a consultative negotiation? Employing these techniques will empower sellers to execute consultative negotiation dialogues that lead to true win-win outcomes.

  • Prime the Buyer: Throughout the sales conversation, sales professionals should constantly work to help the buyer build a mindset that the seller is a partner who is working with them to define the best solution rather than a person who is trying to make a pre-made solution fit.
  • Lead by Opening: The salesperson should be the first to position the offer, taking control of the conversation and providing a solution that resonates with the buyer. Opening the conversation serves two key purposes:
    • It demonstrates that the seller has a clear understanding of the buyer’s needs and feels confident that their proposed solution will meet them.
    • It provides an anchor from which all subsequent conversations will start. Being the first to anchor the conversation helps the sales professional maintain control.
  • Convert Demands into Needs: Learn to think of any customer demand that arises during the sales conversation as a need. Treat their demands as an opportunity to dig deeper into the problem and then position a solution that meets the need rather than acquiesce blindly to the demand.
  • Trade to Protect the Deal: If the negotiation is approaching a deadlock, the sales professional must be willing to trade. A trade does not always mean making a concession on price, but it might involve a willingness to tack on additional services as part of the deal. Price concessions should be the last trade a sales professional agrees to.
  • Constantly Seek Commitment to Close: Sales professionals should constantly work to build momentum in every point of customer contact. They should constantly check to ensure alignment and ask that the customer commit to taking the next step toward the close of the sale.
  • Focus on Building Trust: At every turn, the sales professional must work on building trust with their buyers. Trust is built through transparency, timely and accurate follow-up and demonstrating that the relationship is more important than a single deal.

With the right negotiation style and an understanding of how to execute effective negotiation techniques, sales professionals can build their books of business and improve their overall contributions to the bottom line.

About the Author

Richardson Sales Performance is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.

Learn more about Richardson Sales Performance & SPI's Consultative Sales Negotiation Training Programme Brochure