4 Negotiating Tips to Handle an Impromptu Sales Conversation
When faced with an unplanned negotiating moment, an unsophisticated negotiator will choose a position and cling to it. A strong negotiator, on the other hand, will have several alternative approaches in mind, and will share these options with the buyer without arguing or offending.
Becoming a great negotiator requires practice to develop good habits, and it’s especially helpful to have a sales system you can call on when a buyer takes you by surprise. I offer up four negotiation tips to use during an impromptu sales conversation.
Negotiation Tip #1 – Listen and do not interrupt
Like most people, the average buyer hates conflict, so try to create a safe negotiating space for mutual discovery. Be friendly and use disarming words to help create the right environment – for example, “Sounds like you’re a tough negotiator. That makes me nervous.”
Understanding that both the buyer and the seller have a job to do can go a long way toward getting a buy-in between both parties, which results in better outcomes and longer-lasting agreements.
Remember that a good negotiator doesn’t overreact, and will ask a few questions to show the buyer that they’re being heard. A good negotiator will also listen carefully in order to evaluate what is actually being said, allowing them to determine the outcome the buyer is trying to achieve.
Negotiation Tip #2 – Explore options
Options are good. Whenever possible, a salesperson should give the buyer at least three options for every scenario. You might try saying something like, “I’m brainstorming on the fly here but maybe we can address your concern by…”
Negotiation Tip #3 – Disengage if you cannot resolve
One of the toughest scenarios for a salesperson is when a buyer asks for something that they don’t know how to respond to. The buyer may be pushing for an immediate response but it’s important not to give in.
A good negotiator recognizes that a deal doesn’t need to be reached in one meeting and is willing to take the time to reach a higher-quality resolution.
There is a right and wrong way to disengage from a negotiation. One thing a salesperson should never tell a buyer is “I’ll have to talk to my manager.” That’s just another way of saying, “There’s no point in talking to me.” A salesperson should always present oneself as the lead negotiator and final arbiter.
If you truly have no answer for a buyer’s question, consider a response such as, “Let me reflect on that and get back to you.” Or try to lower the buyer’s expectations. For example, “I’ll have to work on that. But what if I’m unable to do what you’ve asked?”
Negotiation Tip #4 – Broaden the scope
One of the toughest negotiating problems is getting stuck on a single issue. In order to avoid this, an effective negotiator is adept at moving the conversation along, asking questions like “What others concerns do you have?” to broaden the discussion and uncover additional points that need resolving.
Looking for more negotiation tips? My book, Negotiating With The Savvy Software Buyer, can help.