When we think of a negotiator, the mind quickly paints a picture of a cold, calculated character, like a hostage negotiator or ruthless laywer. What we seldom consider is the creative process involved in negotiations, a rhythmic dance of sorts that takes place when two parties actively work together towards a beneficial outcome.
There are many aspects to a sales role, but none more critical than negotiation skills. In fact, forget about everything else for a moment — your negotiation skills will determine the results you achieve, and its your ability to negotiate, not just in business, but in life, that will secure your long-term success.
The Google definition for ‘negotiate’ is as follows:
1. Try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.
2. Find a way (over or through) an obstacle or difficult path.
The above definitions are ultimately what all salespeople are paid to do. You can do a great job of engaging, listening and tailoring your pitch, however if you fail to negotiate the agreement to the end sale, the former becomes obsolete.
Negotiation often comes down to how much we want or desire something, this will largely determine what compromises we are willing to make or how much time we are prepared to invest in the negotiation process.
Of course, if you have trust, the need for hard nosed negotiations is mooted, since both parties are transparent with their needs. “Transparency might make for a predictable game of poker, but in the game of sales and negotiations, it can cut the sales cycle in half, or better,” says Morry Morgan, author of ‘Selling Big to China – Negotiating Principles for the World’s Largest Market.
We can easily make the mistake of underestimating how critical ‘people’ are to the negotiation process. Example: if I don’t like or trust you, for whatever reason, I’ll negotiate harder for my own benefit. Similarly, speaking with Tim, a family lawyer, he explained he works harder for and personally invests in specific clients he likes and believes in, this make rapport and empathy key foundations for successful negotiations.
So given all this, how can you become a more effective negotiator?
Successful Sales Negotiators:
A smart question to ask when selling is, ‘can I negotiate with this person? If not, navigate (over or through) them. Don’t forget the golden rule: NEVER negotiate with terrorists (time wasters!)
When you negotiate with purpose and genuinely believe the outcome benefits both you and the customer — you become vastly more influential. This is an area all salespeople can improve in. See yourself as a sales negotiator, not just a salesperson and your customers and fearless leader will see you as someone they can rely upon to get the deal done.