Customer Experience News & Trends

Steal & share these tips for negotiating with customers in a tough economy

Is it better to be a tough negotiator or a soft one during tough economic times? 

There are times to be tough and times to be soft.

But a better approach is to create a strategy that fits the particular negotiation.

Here are strategies to share with your salespeople:

Remove the negative filter

Sometimes salespeople and prospects negotiate through a negative filter. They’re suspicious of what’s being said and skeptical of motives, feeling that someone’s trying to get the better of them.

In the end, the negotiation fails, not necessarily over the issues, but over the manner in which they’re expressed.

Understand objectives

Try to enter the negotiation with a clear sense of your own objectives and an understanding of your prospect’s as well. If you enter a negotiation with the attitude that you’re going to work with — not against — a prospect, you’re chances of success increase substantially.

Be flexible

As situations change, negotiation strategies may have to be adjusted. Negotiation isn’t a science or a war. It’s a human interaction between a salesperson and a prospect.

Economic conditions may impact a negotiation, but they never change one basic premise: The result of the negotiation must be of benefit to both parties.

Flexibility can save you from being trapped in a position that may cost you the sale.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Preparation is the only aspect of negotiation over which you have complete control. You can’t control the other side, outside events such as plant closings or layoffs, and often not even your own position – only preparation. If you’re not prepared for a negotiation, you have given the other side an undue advantage.

Know as much as possible about both the major and minor issues on the negotiating table. Knowledge is the best assurance that you’ll be able to support your arguments, prevent surprises and come across as a sales professional.

Set objectives

It’s important to go into a negotiation with a clear sense of what your objectives are and which ones are essential and which are not — as well as which ones you’re willing to compromise on.

Setting clear objectives in advance, before the negotiating process begins, will help you make sound, disciplined decisions. If you don’t have clear objectives and the discipline to stick to them, it’s easy to bend under pressure — especially in today’s economy.

Establish trust

When negotiators trust each other, they share information more openly and honestly. They’re move motivated to search for creative solutions by looking into alternatives and trade-offs that would benefit them both.

A successful negotiation isn’t about winning or looking for ways you can maximize your gains alone. It’s about seeking a way to harmonize your interests with prospects. Good negotiators focus on building on common ground.

Differences aren’t ignored. They are recognized and managed, but are never a driving force in the negotiation.

Adapted from: “Done Deal: Insights from Interviews with the World’s Best Negotiators,” by Dr. Michael Benolie.

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