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Getting the best possible for yourself is what negotiation is all about. The best negotiators, know how to win with no or few concessions. It does not mean win/win approaches are for losers. But pricing discussion and discounting, which are often leveraged in sales to land deals, have little to do with a well conducted negotiation. As far as negotiation is implemented as a process that start well before the closing stage.
When and with whom to negotiate: preparation accounts for 80% of a successful negotiation? Fair enough. Fair enough. However, negotiation is too often confused with closing or price negotiation. It is a mistake. Negotiation starts with the first contact of the sales cycle and goes on at each stage. The champion and his extensive list of attributes, if any, may help: actions and interactions, including the pace of an opportunity, can and should be negotiated. In complex and multi-stakeholder sales, access to the key decision-makers, regardless of what Challenger Sales advocates may say, must also be negotiated. Key decision makers’ time and involvement, at least for those who count, must be negotiated. Identifying and coaching them as soon as possible has one purpose: to take and keep control of the sales cycle to make the closing step as smooth as possible.
Control and peace of mind: sticking to the stages of a sales cycle is nothing natural for customers. Qualifying, persuading, and negotiating must be leveraged to move deals forward. The outcome of each stage and the transition phases must also be negotiated while striking the right balance between passivity and aggressiveness. Value proposition, ROI analysis, or price defense are techniques and methods that will certainly help you define and validate your positioning. From the perception of your positioning must flow your sales strategy, your strategy adjustments and the negotiation of the ends and means. Knowing when to stop negotiating and how to withdraw without losing face are part of the game. Namely in the closing phase, tools like Challenger Sales Situational Negotiation planner provides the structure to avoid the pitfalls of improvisation and apply the principle of reciprocity to your concessions. Similarly, the concepts of anchoring, BATNA, ZOPA or reservation value lay the foundations of any successful negotiation.
Psychology and empathy: Selling would be so simple if we could guess what drives and motivates our customers. OK, some basic approaches around Security, Pride, Novelty, Comfort and Sympathy may offer an overview of personal drivers and how to adapt to them. Basic and simple does not mean efficient. Sympathy can’t hurt but often makes lousy deals. In terms of psychology, if MBTI seems an overkill to understand the psycho of your stakeholders, DISC, Herman Brain Dominance, and Process communication are methods that have proven their worth. They can be easily leveraged in sales. Objective: personalize your communication style, your sales effort, and your deliverables to specific profiles. The best negotiators go one step further: they distinguish power from influence to motivate skeptics, mobilize their sponsors and neutralize their enemies.
Sense and sensibility: from Value Selling’s questioning matrix to simple techniques like APACT or ADEC, objections handling must be guided by a specific objective. Target Account Selling PRIME model is a perfect summary of the goals to be achieved and the balance to be found between offense and defense, between value perception and differentiation. Speaking of balance, it is the balance between logic and creativity which is the key to a successful negotiation. Not just preparation. Logic and perspective to neutralize mental and emotional biases such as the desire to win at all costs or the fear of losing, and to deal with extreme situations like anger or lies. Creativity to get out of the price rut and create value, sometimes unsuspected, by changing perspective. The Challenger Sales SCAMMPERR model is an effective framework to think out of the box and trade value vs. price.
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