Negotiation Skills

Sales negotiation skills aren’t something you’re born with. They’re learnt, practiced and fine tuned until you become an effective and tactful negotiator.

Negotiations are often the most daunting aspect of the sales process for any Sales Representative, even experienced Sales Managers still get last-minute jitters. But by mastering these 10 essential negotiation skills, you’ll be on your way to negotiation mastery.

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1. Arrive Prepared

The statement ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’ really epitomizes our next point – arrive prepared! You might be thinking, “I’m a Sales Professional,” of course I’ll arrive at the negotiation prepared!”. However, did you know being prepared accounts for 90% of your sales success? 

Which is why you need to double or even triple check you have:

  • Extensive and comprehensive research on your prospect and their operation.
  • Proof or evidence in the form of testimonials, data, or case studies. 
  • Created a detailed description of your prospect’s problem and a plan depicting your solution. 

Obviously, it’s crucial to be prepared for any sales negotiation, so please don’t get caught not knowing your information. You need to use this vital sales negotiation skill to ensure you’re fully prepared; if not, you’ll appear unreliable, unprofessional and definitely won’t be walking away with a closed deal.

2. Why Being Human Is One Of The Best Negotiation Skills

Sure, negotiations are a formal event, but we’re all human here, which means you possess the ability to connect with your prospect. So our first sales negotiation skill is about the energy you bring to the table.

First, you need to ensure it’s comfortable enough to keep the conversation light and airy. Whilst using other little tokens of humility like ensuring your prospect have a drink, relaxing the mood with a little back and forth chit-chat, and even mentioning the weather will go a long way.

Simple, right? Not only will you get the result you want, but you’ll start building a strong and consistent rapport which will form your long term business relationships. So go on, use this sales negotiation skill to put your best foot forward and secure that deal!

3. Why Silence Should Be In Your Negotiation Skills

Ever heard of the old adage, ‘silence speaks louder than words’? Well, we’ll let you in on a secret – it’s one of the most powerful sales negotiation skills you can have in your arsenal. 

So how does it work? Well, simply asking a question like “Are you willing to pay $X?” and then being completely silent will compel your prospect to fill the silence. This pressure will not only relay that you’re negotiating from a solid position but that you have unwavering confidence.

This excellent and rather sneaky tactic will reinforce your statement and persuade your prospect to start considering your offer. However, be mindful not to create awkward voids of silence – there’s nothing worse. By tactfully utilizing this negotiation skill, you can simply make an offer, stay silent, and wait for your prospect to say yes. 

4. Define Your Discounts In Advance

Have you ever over-promised in the heat of the moment, just to secure a deal? Then this negotiation skill is definitely for you. It’s important to start all negotiations by planning out in advance what you’re able to sensibly offer in terms of freebies, discounts, and concessions. This is all called defining your bottom line and your walk away point. Don’t let pressure and uncertainty control the path of your sales negotiation because ultimately, it will only lead to you losing even if you ‘won’.

By knowing your absolute limits, you’ll ensure you aren’t manipulated into a deal you can’t happily deliver on. Any offer that’s less than your bottom line should be dismissed and alternatives pursued instead.

5. Allow The Prospect To Begin The Sales Negotiation

We all know the importance of creating an accommodating environment free of aggression and pressure, which is why we strongly suggest that you allow them to start the Sales Negotiation. 

Not only is it a polite gesture, but it actually gives you the upper hand! Think about it, by giving yourself a chance to scope out the scale of their offer – you can use this time to alter your own terms if needed. So, it’s imperative always to allow your prospect to begin the Negotiation dialogue. 

6. Identify and Include The Decision Maker

During sales negotiations, you need to be aware of who makes the final buying decision. This sounds incredibly obvious but trust us – you could be pitching to someone who doesn’t even hold the authority to confirm a sale. 

For instance, you could be pitching to administrative staff, whilst your competitors are pitching to their boss. If this is the case there’s no chance you’ll be getting the sale.

You need to actively find out if there are multiple decision-makers involved because you’ll need to find a way to present your solution based on everyone’s interests. Here are some questions we suggest you ask to help you identify the decision-maker immediately:

  • Will anyone else be involved in the decision?
  • Who else should we have at the meeting to make sure I can address everyone’s questions?
  • Who will be the end-user of our solution?
  • Do you want to invite the [insert buyer’s role] to our next meeting?

7. Don’t Negotiate Price Until You’ve Demonstrated the Value

Don’t even think about negotiating the price or giving discounts and concessions until you’re confident you’ve fully demonstrated the value of your product or service. If you find yourself trapped in a price negotiation where all the prospect is thinking about is price, you’re setting yourself up to either lose the deal or worse, the profit.  

Instead, you need to justify your price with evidence. Do you have qualitative or quantitative data you could present to your prospect to show why it’s worth what you’re asking? How about testimonials, case studies, and reviews? These are excellent ‘proof devices’ that demonstrate to the prospect how valuable your offering really is.

8. Know When To Walk Away

You might find instances during sales negotiations where prospects might make demands that your business just can’t facilitate; whether that involves radical amendments or colossal price reductions, it’s important to know that you have the option to walk away.

However, it would be best if you tried first to slowly disengage from talks by displaying your dissatisfaction with how the process is evolving. If the prospect isn’t picking up on your signals, gracefully bow out of sales negotiations to save you both from wasting time and effort.

9. Practice Patience

Have you ever considered offering a break in the sales negotiation? Yes, it might seem radical or downright insane –  but, it actually gives both parties a chance to review any major requests or changes away from the spotlight. Think about it, nobody wants to rush into a deal they’re not 100% happy with – so it’s imperative to slow down, take a break and fully evaluate the situation every now and again. Practising patience is a key negotiation skill you should think about incorporating.

10. Ask For Something In Return

You’re about to enter a working relationship that requires total respect and trust from both sides in order to be beneficial. So the last skill you should practice is asking if you can receive something in return for concessions you’ve offered or been requested by the prospect. This ensures that everyone leaves the negotiation in a win-win situation, which will only help your working relationship prosper.

Your Next Steps

Mastering the art of negotiating involves getting fully clear on what and how to prepare to negotiate. Once you’re ready, you need to tactfully open the negotiation and have a bag of negotiation strategies to handle even the toughest adversaries. Once the negotiation is complete, everyone must walk away feeling confident that this is only the start of a harmonious business relationship.

All of this happens when you learn how to tactfully negotiate business deals.

Here at SOCO Sales Training, we’ve been helping teams and individuals master essential negotiation skills through our multi-day training and complete e-learning course.

Take your negotiation skills to the next level by enrolling in our Winning in Negotiations Certification course today.

Need negotiation training for your team? Contact us today for more information on our negotiation training programs.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.