A difficult part of the sales cycle is negotiating and closing. How often has a deal seemed closed, only to have the customer try to reopen it with new demands? In this column, we’ll discuss negotiation, which is part of the Close step of Solution Selling for Agriculture.
Start with two guiding principles:
If You Are Not Ready To Walk, You Are Not Ready To Sell. If you are not ready to walk away from an opportunity, you are likely not in a position to reach final agreement either. If you don’t know the value your solution provides to the customer, you are at a disadvantage because you have little bargaining power. It is easier to walk when you have a full pipeline and know the quantifiable value your capabilities deliver after implementation.
Don’t Close Before It Is Closeable. When we try to close prematurely, we often are out of alignment with the customer. If you can think of a reason why your opportunity is not ready to close, likely the customer has, too.
Following A Top 10
Here are 10 considerations to help you conduct negotiations.
1. Knowledge is power. The more you know about your customer, the more likely you will succeed.
2. Plan before you begin. Customers prepare ahead of time to determine what they want in the negotiation. So should you.
3. Know what you will accept. Create a “get-give” list that details the things you would like from the customer. These should be high value to you but low cost to the customer.
4. Know what you are willing to give. Your “get-give” list should anticipate other things the customer might like from you. These will be high value to the customer but low cost to you.
5. Seek to understand true interests. What is the reason for asking for a concession? You may be able to address the need without a major one. For example, the customer asks for a discount but is really concerned about implementation. Additional resources may be more valuable than a discount.
6. Give reluctantly and slowly. If you have to give, let the customer visualize that it is not easy for you. Resist up to three “squeezes” with reasons why you shouldn’t have to make concessions.
7. Don’t give without getting. If you give a concession, make sure you get something first. This lets the customer know you value your resources and the deal already offered.
8. Be willing to walk away. You must believe you bring value to the customer, and that you are willing to walk rather than give any more.
9. Customers must believe they are getting the best price. This is the customer’s emotional hurdle. Help them believe they are getting the best price or value early in the process.
10. Use a mutual win approach. Both the customer and you should have the goal of doing future business together.
The customer has asked for a concession after you thought a deal had been reached. Your first resistance reminds the customer of discussions that have already occurred, and he has agreed to. Your second stand might remind the customer of the value your solution offers him. Finally you might remind him of the pain (or problem) you and he have previously agreed to.
If the request for a concession continues, you will want to ask the customer for something in return. This “get-give” is critical for maintaining your position as a solution provider who values his time, resources, and expertise.
The “get” is what you might want in return for a concession you make. These should be high value to you but low cost to the customer. The “give” is what you are willing to give as concessions. They should be high value to the customer but low cost to you. The non-negotiable items are ones you will not give under any condition, and the demand to get these by the customer may cause you to walk.