Too many salespeople begin negotiating with customers too quickly.

As soon as the customer gives any sort of resistance, it seems like the going norm is for the salesperson to roll over and play dead and give away the farm.

It’s time to cut to the chase and provide some perspective on the who, what, when, where, why, and how of sales negotiating.

Who: You can’t negotiate with anyone unless they have the power to buy.

Don’t waste your time if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have the authority to make a decision.  If you’re not sure if they can make a decision, then ask them.  A question I like to ask is, “How have you made decisions like this in the past?”

What: If you don’t know what it is you’re negotiating over, then you’re doomed to fail.

Until the customer has shared with you what they’re looking for and have provided to you what their objections are, then you’re wasting your time.   This is a key part of the sales process. The earlier you can find out this type of information, the more likely you’ll be able to close a sale.

When: You negotiate only after the customer has rejected your offer.

This means you don’t start negotiating until after the selling process is over.  I like to say we sell first, negotiate second.  Second part of when is by doing it at a point in time that fits the customer’s timeline.  The closer you can do the negotiating to when the customer must make a decision, the more leverage you will have.

Where: In-person if at all possible.

Sales negotiating that takes place in person has the added benefit of body language which is impossible to read over the telephone.  When the negotiation can take place in presences of the actual item that is the focus of the negotiation, then you can leverage the customer’s sense of time to help close the sale.

If the item is actually there, then the customer is likely to have more of a sense of urgency.

Why: Yes, there is a why. You, the salesperson, must know before negotiating if it even makes sense to negotiate.

If the outcome of the sales negotiating could be something you’re not interested in, then don’t even waste your time.

How: Sales negotiating requires a process, and to sum it up, it means the following:

1. Know in advance what your walk-away point is.

2. Know what it is you and the customer are negotiating over.

3. Have a list of items you’re willing to offer up  to the customer in exchange for something of equal or greater value.

4. Know what the key things are the customer is looking for.

5. Know the value of time to the customer and, in particular, what their timeline is for making a decision.

Sales negotiating does not have to be a daunting task and it doesn’t have to be one that destroys your bottom line.

It can be a process where both you and the customer come out on the winning side.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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