Having a great product doesn't guarantee a sale. It's just a fact of life: a lesser product (or service or package) than yours may clinch the deal from under your feet. This is why the Internet abounds with books, negotiations skills training courses and workshops relating to selling and negotiating skills training.
Negotiating is an inescapable part of doing business. Part science and part flair or art, it can generate a lot of stress. But it is often a lot more stressful than it need be.
There's plenty you can do to lower your stress and strengthen your case before you even get to the negotiating table, such as learning all you can about negotiations skills training.
Don't stress - use your influence upfront.
People are persuaded by reason and moved by emotion. This is what makes selling complex and interesting - fun, some would say - because to make a sale, you have to figure out how much reason versus emotion is motivating the purchase. It is a key element in negotiations skills training. That way once you've figured out who needs to be influenced, you know how to influence them.
Influence is a key management challenge. Consciously or not, you use influence in all aspects of your business - to motivate your team, to nurture your customers, to upgrade the service you're getting from suppliers, to obtain better terms from your banker, to persuade your secretary to stay late when you're in a bind.
Let's face it: using influence is a woman's best friend. Check out the 5 year old next door persuading her daddy to do something... We use our influence from the cradle, whether we're balling our eyes out, fluttering our eyelashes, persuading a class mate to do our homework, comforting our teddy bear or angling for the last slice of cake at table.
So who do you need to influence before you get to the negotiating table?
You were born with the skill, you don't need to be taught it - all you need to know is
In a sales context, you use your negotiations skills training and your influence to negotiate price and terms and to close the sale. But before you get to negotiating anything, you need to use your influence upfront to research what will condition your sales tactics.
Do the research BEFORE choosing your sales tactics
With taking negotiations skills training before you even get to the negotiating table, you need to have searched out the following elements:
Let's briefly look at each of these elements.
What needs does your prospect have that you can satisfy
Understanding what a product does for your prospect is crucial to your sales process. Does your prospect like to be seen to buy from innovators, or is the security of a well-established product important? Is the prospect emotionally tied to a supplier, or is there a political motive for backing another horse? Is the main motivator price, or is the long-term relationship important in terms of repeat sales or after sales? Etc. These issues are the major ones taught in negotiations skills training courses.
What typifies your prospect's purchasing
What is the formal purchasing procedure? Is it very lengthy and bureaucratic, or short and informal? Does it involve lots of people or does it come down to one or two key individuals? Do politics play a decisive role or is the decision purely commercial? Is the company loyal to a small field of long-term suppliers or does it like to play the field to keep suppliers on their toes?
How does your prospect like to take decisions
Some prospects want all the facts and figures to back their decision, others want to be told the reasons why they should buy in a compelling, logical story, yet others may want to apprehend how this will help them to do things differently or to be seen in a new light. Different thinking styles require different selling approaches and you can use negotiations skills training to figure out the thinking style of your decision-makers and influencers. Secretaries are good sources of this kind of information, as are co-workers.
Who needs to be kept in the sales loop
Your first point of contact may not be the real decision-maker, and you need to establish early on who is. If the company is of some size, you might want to identify a gatekeeper or two who can sponsor you into the system. Also useful is finding out who on the company grapevine will transmit information you might leak to them. Finally, you need to link up with a mole or two, key individuals who observe and listen on the sidelines and whose opinions are respected. Once you've got the ear of these people, you can ask to have them attend your sales presentation to help you convince the decision maker. Again, secretaries are a good source of information when you're trying to network intelligently.
What are your own needs and bottom-line rules
How strategic is this sale to you? Is the prospect an important client to bag in terms of the kudos it will give you with future prospects, or is the sale not a big deal? How much are you willing to concede to get it and what is your bottom-line beyond which you would rather back out?
Before you start making concessions, you need to ascertain whether the time is right for this purchase from the prospect's viewpoint. It may be better to delay a few months than to end up making concessions that set the tone for future sales to this prospect.
Once you've used your influence to ferret out all of these inputs, you can begin to plan your negotiating tactics with a cool head and a better chance of getting the business.
So don't stress over your negotiating skills - use your influence upfront and do your homework in negotiations skills training before deciding on your sales tactics.