Sales Negotiation – How Do You “Do”?

Sales negotiation is a perennial weakness for many sales organizations. A primary reason for this weakness is that many salespeople, by nature and/or necessity, are action oriented. You know, the “just give me my goals and get out of my way” type. They crave instant action, particularly when action equals gratification.

Yet, to paraphrase Louis Pasteur, “Opportunity favors the prepared mind.” To be effective negotiators, salespeople need to invest significant time in preparation.

This is just like remodeling a kitchen: the prep work takes the most time. It is painfully tedious. It can feel like you’re not making progress. But, if you skip steps, it can cost time, aggravation, and money in the long run.

It’s not that salespeople don’t conceptually understand this. They do. The most successful sales managers close this “knowing / doing gap” by broadening the definition of what “doing” means in salespeople’s own minds. They redefine progress. For example, if you asked salespeople to define negotiation, most would say that it’s the act of negotiating the price, terms, and conditions of sales with current and new customers-and winning! But what if the definition of negotiation also included the actions of pre-defining their opening strategy and concession strategy?

Well, what happens is that challenging issues (for example, price and the role of purchasing) are deliberately woven into initial conversations. This sort of “negotiation selling” requires customer insight, preparation, and a degree of flexible choreography or “process negotiation”-thinking about how, where, and when to introduce possible points of negotiation into the conversation. The stress of intense end-stage negotiations (in which the customer has the leverage) is greatly reduced, and successful negotiations result.

How about you? When negotiating, how do you “do”?