How Negotiation Skills Can Help You Increase Your Sales

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Bottom Line: Learning how to negotiate will help you learn to have conversations that even the best sales training in the world can't and won't teach you to have.

These conversations are what open the doors to, and help you create, opportunities that many times don't even exist before you have said conversations. After all, your biggest sales opportunities come from 67% of your market who aren't actively looking for what you are selling.

As a result, you learn how to increase the frequency and size of your sales, increase sales revenue, and protect your margins. All the product knowledge and sales training in the world simply can't teach you these skills, and you simply won't acquire them until you learn to negotiate.  

Now for the specifics . . .

I learned the value and power of negotiation skills early in my sales career, when I read the negotiation skills classic, "Getting to Yes." That book started me on a journey to devour as much information as I could on the subject. But it wasn't until much later, when several mentors in my life, showed me how actively apply these principles in my sales conversations, that the whole game changed for me. 

I stopped letting customer and prospect "no's, not now's and maybe's" shut the door to opportunities. I started realizing that it was when they actually said "no, not now or maybe," that the real negotiation/selling conversation began. And I learned how to take those obstacles and delays, and literally transform them into more and greater sales opportunities. 

Here's how you can do the same in your own selling process . . .

1. Get to "no" faster. Make your customer/prospect tell you "no, not now or maybe" faster. Some call it "qualifying in and out early," but that's not enough. When you encourage, and even demand (professionally, of course) that the customer/prospect give you an answer, one way or another, the negotiating actually begins. How do you do this without being aggressive, confrontational, pushy, slimy or salesy? 

2. Activate tension, avoid pressure. "What's the difference," you ask? Tension is internal, pressure is external. When you ask a question of your customer/prospect that requires a "no, not now or maybe" answer, and then refuse to let them off the hook, or say another work until they give you that answer, you've activated tension in their mind. It's all on them, not on you. However, if you keep asking them that question, or any other question, or start trying to encourage them to say yes, you're pressuring them. And nobody, not even you, like that feeling. (Props to my mentor Lisa Sasevich for teaching me that little pearl of wisdom).

3. Commit yourself to their win, as much as you've committed to yours. Two of the most powerful words I've ever heard used in a negotiation, to foster a win-win outcome are the words "fair" and "comfortable." When you verbally express to your customer/prospect that you refuse to offer or provide a solution that is not both fair and comfortable for them, and for you, you've demonstrated your commitment to their win. 

4. Align with the "no, not now or maybe," and then spitball. I once brought a creative idea to my supervisor who, before even hearing the details or specifics about my idea, said, "we tried that and it didn't work." In other words, he said "no."

However, instead of tucking my tail and running away, I said, "interesting, can you tell me a little more about how that played out?" He gladly expounded, almost pounding his chest because he just knew he had me in an almost a checkmate-like position. (Side-note: Leaders don't treat their people this way, only poor managers. But I digress).

Once he finished elaborating, I acknowledged his obvious genius and profound insight by saying, "Wow! I can definitely see why that would fail miserably. You guys were very wise to shut that down when you did." Then without missing a beat, I asked, "what would you think about trying it this way?" I explained my intended approach, and then I went silent and waited. 

Without much delay and hesitation, he said, "Hey, I like that, and it just might work. Yes, go ahead and give it a go!" The spitballing happened when I asked "what would you think about . . . ?" Other forms of spitballing include, "suppose that, what if, how about, would you consider, have you tired, etc."

The moment they engage in the spitballing by saying, "well, we tried that, and it didn't work, but let's talk more about this . . . or some similar form of reciprocation, now you're collaborating - co-creating. And according to John C. Maxwell, "people support what they help create."

5. Add aligned value. "Adding value" has become, in my opinion, just another platitude. However, adding "aligned value" is a completely different approach. We constantly offer things to people in a negotiation that we believe they should want. In fact, countless businesses fail every year because they've attempted to offer customers what they believe they should want, but don't. Likewise, frustration and failure abound when we take the same approach. 

It's better to spend time learning what the other part truly values before we start offering concessions to facilitate an agreement. We could potentially lose the opportunity and not even know why.

Take these 5 insights, and immediately infuse them into your current sales process. I believe they will help you produce even greater results than you're currently experiencing. 

However, no matter how much you study, read, watch and listen to these negotiation skills being taught, you can't fully learn to effectively leverage and apply them to your own situation in a vacuum. It's imperative that you seek out an interactive learning experience that will allow you to test, and work through, the principles you learn. For this reason, I'd like to personally invite you to join me for our upcoming live seminar. You can get all the details here.