Customer Experience News & Trends

5 keys to a successful negotiation

When negotiating with customers, your doubts can be your worst enemies. 

Doubts about how well the conversation is going may cause fear to set in … fear that may cause you to make concessions in an effort to move to a successful close. Some prospects sense this fear and may begin to make unrealistic demands.

Here are five tips to avoid those doubts from creeping in:

  1. Know your prospect better than your competition does. This may mean drilling deep beyond the initial need. Understand why the need exists. What is the prospect really trying to achieve? What is the full scope of the problems they are addressing? How does your solution uniquely impact them? Is the prospect’s primary purchasing agenda price, value or relationship, or is he or she just playing poker with you? If it’s poker, what tools will you use to call his or her bluff? With this information, you can develop a sound plan to leverage your competitive advantage.
  2. Prioritize your goals. If you’re going to compromise, you need to know what you must have, as opposed to what would be nice to have. The nice-to-haves may be given up for obtaining the must-haves.
  3. “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” Coach Vince Lombardi told his Green Bay Packers. The goal of some tough prospects is to wear you down emotionally and incrementally. Focus objectively on the facts. Anticipate the potential ploys and develop a responsive action plan. Perseverance is fueled by flawless preparation and planning.
  4. Nothing is going to cut to the chase faster in a negotiation than cold, hard facts. Knowing how your solution is going to have an impact on the prospect’s organization puts you on the right path. Having the data to support your claims may put you in the winner’s circle. A prospect who is truly interested in value won’t just want this level of proof — he or she will demand it. If you don’t have it, the value buyer may don the mask of the Poker Player, pushing for unrealistic compromises. Having the ability to provide the information the prospect will need to make an informed and calculated decision is the key to a successful negotiation.
  5. Promote long-term benefits. Point out that there can be an ongoing relationship with advantages for both sides. A compromise now might lay the ground work for future collaboration. Sometimes a compromise is the best you can do when neither side can completely get what it wants.

Adapted from: Negotiating with Backbone by Reed Holden, pricing expert and CEO of Holden Advisors, a firm dedicated to improving and sustaining pricing power in highly competitive markets.

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