If you want to know the best way to improve your negotiation skills, then invest more time in improving your selling skills.

First thing I believe with regard to negotiating is that you sell first, negotiate second.  If you simply start negotiating with someone you haven’t first sold to, I guarantee you will fail.

“Selling first, negotiating second” allows you to understand the customer’s needs and it allows the customer to understand where you’re coming from.

The criteria and/or questions you need to have answered before start any negotiation are:

1. What are the needs the customer has and have they expressed at least 3 needs to you?

The more needs the customer has shared with you, the better position you will be in should you need to negotiation with the customer.

2. Does one of the needs they’ve expressed have anything to do with time?

If so, this provides you with a key item to leverage in your negotiations.

3. Has the customer expressed at least some interest in your offer?

The old saying you can’t get blood out of a turnip holds true.  If the customer doesn’t want what you’re offering, then there is no sense in negotiating.

4. Has the customer rejected your price at least once and have they countered with a price?

The good thing about this question is it allows you to develop a starting point with the customer.  If you wait until the customer knows you’re willing to negotiate with them over price, they will be much more likely to throw out a low-ball price.

5. Do you know what you and the customer are going to be negotiating over?

Don’t think it’s just price.  Many times the customer has other needs that you can negotiate over and, more importantly, use to help increase the price you receive.

Timing is certainly a key issue, but there are also many times numerous other things.  The more “variables” you know as to what the customer wants and what you’ll be negotiating over, typically the more successful your odds will be.

When you have the answers to these questions, you can then begin to negotiate — if the customer has rejected your offer twice. I say twice because there is no reason to enter into a negotiation if you can first sell to the customer.

Selling is much easier than negotiating and allows you to typically achieve a higher level of profit.  If you have to negotiate, be sure your negotiation skills are up to par.

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

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