Like it or not, negotiations are a part of sales.  Many salespeople, though, spend more time dreading negotiations rather than developing the sales skills that make negotiations go smoother.  If your sales motivation begins to dwindle when negotiations are on the horizon, take heart.   Here are three tips to keep you on track:

Never negotiate with anyone who is not qualified to negotiate.  Here is a good way to check this:  Ask your contact how they have handled similar types of negotiating in the past.  Listen for details that will provide you with clues as to their level of responsibility.  It is crucial you negotiate only with people who have the authority to make decisions.

Never put things into writing unless you’re prepared to live with them. If something is in writing, it essentially is an anchor.  A skilled professional buyer is well aware of this and will use it as leverage.  So, before something is put in writing, be sure you know the consequences of those choices. What may seem like no big deal at the time can become a very big deal when it has to be fulfilled.

Always leave room to give something the other person will deem as a perceived benefit.   This is why it is so important to sell first and negotiate second. When you sell first, you can ask questions to determine which benefits are most important to the customer.  During the negotiation phase, a customer will attempt to mask the benefits they desire, making it harder to determine exactly what the customer wants.  But if you are wise, you will do all you can to figure out what is most important to the customer — so that you can then use one or two of these benefits to your advantage in the negotiating phase.

Here is a bonus tip: Pay close attention to your attitude regarding negotiations.  If you think they will go badly before you even get into them, then they likely will.  If, on the other hand, you see negotiations as moving you and the customer toward a mutually-beneficial agreement, then your reference point will be positive. Sounds simple, but too often salespeople miss the significance of their attitude.

Successful negotiations generally lead to more successful negotiations in the future.  It is in your best interest to refine and strengthen your skills, because doing so will make successful negotiating second nature to you. That means more profit for you and your company, and more satisfied customers.

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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