Sales negotiation skills are critical business skills for sales professionals. By negotiating more profitable deals for their organisations, they can contribute directly to the bottom line.
In large complex sales, a percentage increase in margin can translate to millions of profit over the lifetime of the customer account. In the course of sales negotiation, sales professionals tend to meet highly-trained procurement negotiators who are extremely meticulous and structured in their negotiating approach. To effectively respond to these procurement experts, sales professionals must develop and master critical negotiating skills.
One of the most important skills is the ability to frame and anchor your product value proposition in a compelling way that puts you in an advantageous position over your competitors. This could be an innovative technology, a special pricing structure or strong intellectual property. When you frame well, you can command better pricing and dictate better terms for your company.
During the negotiation, steer focus away from money – rather, expand the dialogue to total value proposition. Talk less and listen more. Listen to the real needs of the customers and figure out a way to meet those needs rather than giving away unnecessary discounts which ultimately would hurt your company’s profitability.
Always plan your concessions in advance to avoid giving away too much when you are in the tension of a negotiation. Always test the other party’s limits and test your own assumptions as well.
When you are in a position of strength, do not be drawn to split the difference, just stick to your guns as the buyer is likely to have a weak BATNA.
In a prolonged negotiation with many stakeholders and issues, always confirm all the agreed details in writing to prevent last-minute misunderstanding or backing out.
Procurement specialists are trained to be tough on sales professionals, so do not be easily intimidated as their demeanour is simply part of the game. Know your strengths and know their weaknesses. On the negotiation power spectrum, no party is a zero and no party can be 100%.