In my long career as a salesperson, trainer, and consultant, I’ve seen and heard a lot of bad advice. From bizarre prospecting techniques to trick closes, some of what’s out there just serves as a good reminder that a lot of people don’t quite understand what we do. But perhaps beyond all other sales topics, the ones that seem to throw people completely off their best impressions of common sense is negotiating.
Wearing a red tie, slamming your shoe on a table, and raising your voice unexpectedly are not effective negotiating methods. They might look like fun in the movies, or even at a seminar, but in the real world, we have another name for stunts like that: “watching the sale get away.”
When it comes down to it, customers don’t negotiate with you because they want a performance, or because they’re eager to find out how many classes you’ve been to on holding your prices – they do it because, like you, they have budgets and goals that are easier to meet if they get a better deal. It isn’t anything personal; they’re just looking out for themselves.
Keep that in mind, and remember that there is also a flip side to that coin: no one negotiates with you unless they want what you’re selling. That means, by the time you’re seriously talking prices, delivery dates, and other details, the sale is close.
Here are five ways to negotiate with customers; you won’t find anything slick or fancy, but these tactics do work in the real world:
Raise the value of what you sell.
Most sales negotiations center around price – your customer thinks it’s too high, you think it’s fine where it is. The best way around the problem is to raise the value of what they’re getting in their minds; that way, they feel better paying for it. This can come in the form of reminding them what’s so great about your product, or including an item or service that you have a big margin on. Either way, make sure they know how much they’re getting, and they’ll worry less about what they’re paying.
Find the real problem.
Very often, the reasons people give us for not buying aren’t the ones they actually feel at all. The only way to tell whether the objection your customer is throwing out is real or a smokescreen is by asking the right questions. If you find that you just can’t get the order, slow things down and see if there’s another issue at play.
Make the numbers real.
This is a wildly popular, and hugely effective, tactic when you sell something that’s high quality, and with a price tag to match. Rather than focus on the big figure with all those commas that’s staring them in the face, show your customer what they are paying per month, per day, or per use. Often, when they’ve seen how the figures stack up in that way, you’ll find they’re a lot more willing to pay for quality.
The worst thing you can do is negotiate against yourself, and yet salespeople do it all the time. Probably this has to do with the tension that’s inherent in the closing stages of a sale – you’re just that close to a commission, and you worry about watching it slip away. But once you’ve given your price, or given it again, learn to be strong and be quiet. If your customer wants to fight for a discount, make them ask you for it.
One the oldest, and least-often used negotiating tricks is not negotiating at all. Simply tell the customer that you’re afraid you can’t give them what they want and wrap things up. When would you try this? When you’re so convinced that you’ve shown them the value of your product that you’re absolutely certain they’ll pay what you’ve asked, or when you have so many customers that the loss of one or two isn’t a big deal. Those are good situations to shoot for, since they mean you’re probably becoming a very strong producer.
Negotiating at the close of the sale is never going to be easy, but it doesn’t have to be a painful ordeal, either. Just follow these tips and fight for every penny you deserve. That might not be as much fun as using tricks, but you’ll get a lot more out of it.