If your customers are controlling sales negotiations, you need a better plan.

I’m going to make a safe bet that your customer is controlling you more than you might think.

Salespeople love to negotiate. I’m a strong believer that a key weakness in the sales community is that salespeople are too quick to negotiate.    Many times, the customer controls sales more than the salesperson.

Before you doubt me and stop reading, let me give you a couple of examples.

Have you ever had a customer who told you they were ready to buy, only to suddenly put off placing an order?

How about the customer who, just as they’re about to buy from you, suddenly asks you about your competitor and their price?

Or what about the customer who says they’d love to buy from you, but before they’ll buy, they will need you to match a competitor’s price?

We’ve all been there, and in each of these cases, the customer is showing they’re in control of your sales negotiations.

Statements like these from customers are going to happen. Don’t think you’re exempt.  The questions or comments your customer states might not be one of the examples above, but the objective is the same — they want you to cave.

Your objective is to not cave to their request or even allow them to think they’ve thrown you off guard.

The way you immediately respond to them is going to go a long way in determining the customer’s next move.

If you don’t allow yourself to get rattled, you can many times take back control if the customer is not a seasoned negotiator.  I say this because a customer who is not a strong negotiator may know what to ask for, but they won’t know how to respond to any interaction.

For the customer who is a seasoned negotiator, it is then going to come down to what you choose to say in response to their request.   Be ready with a question of your own.

When you answer their demand, it puts you in a position of weakness.  A much better way is to respond to them with a question of your own.

Ask the customer a question designed to get them thinking about the most critical need they have.  By doing this, you are now taking the upper hand.

Sharp negotiators will see this and respect you for it and realize you’re not going to give a quick concession.  For the sharp negotiator who knows they need what it is you’re selling, they will quietly concede that you are not going to back down.

If the sharp negotiator is not yet sold on what it is you’re offering, then what you’ve done is bring the negotiations back to a neutral position with neither side having the upper-hand.

These may seem like small nuances in sales negotiations, but if you want to be the one in control, you absolutely have to master these techniques.

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

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