Four Negotiation Skills to Arm Your Sellers with Right Now
Categories: Sales Negotiation
If your sales team is challenged with losing margin in key negotiations, it’s often very apparent once you hit the end of the quarter. The problem with many negotiation sales trainings is that they treat negotiation as an event at the end of the sales process, rather than a process that should be driven by your business strategy.
If you want to enable your reps to negotiate on more than just price, you need a strategy that enables value-focused negotiations and consistency across your sales teams.
Here are four negotiation skills to arm your salespeople with right now:
1. Ask Great Questions to Uncover Business Pain
A good negotiation strategy starts with great client discovery. You won’t be able to preserve your margin, if your rep hasn’t effectively aligned the solution with business pain that’s in immediate need of being fixed. Sales reps by nature have a tendency to skip over uncovering the negative consequences of a business problem and jump right to offering their solution.
While negative consequences can make for a more uncomfortable sales conversation, it’s important that your reps are equipped with the techniques needed to build a case for your price. That case starts at the beginning of the sales process.
The final stages of negotiation are not the place to assess your value. If your reps don’t have a way to effectively uncover business pain, they will never be able to move away from a price-only negotiation.
2. Articulate Value and Differentiation
Once they have a great grasp on effective discovery, you need to give them the ability to articulate value and differentiation in a way that has meaning to the buyer. How many of us are holding sales trainings where you review every new feature and function with the new solution? Although important, those widgets don’t mean a thing unless they’re connected to a problem that the buyer is trying to solve.
Too often, sales organizations leave their reps to make up this connection themselves, creating buyer confusion and inconsistency in the sales message. Provide your reps with the ability to map your solution to buyer needs by building cross-functional alignment around these essential questions:
1. What problems do you solve?
2. How do you solve those problems?
3. How do you do it differently than the competition?
4. What’s your proof?
If you have tight company alignment on those four questions and the answers are meaningful to your buyer, it will be a lot easier for your salespeople to (1) negotiate on the value you can bring to the customer and (2) why your solution demands a premium price. Without that clarity, you’re looking at a systemic problem of negotiations repeatedly coming down to price.
3. Build a Sales Process That Enables Reps to Maneuver Through Multiple Decision Makers
Negotiations can become difficult when there are multiple decision makers and interests at play. Your reps need the ability to have these critical conversations and map multiple interests to a list of required capabilities and positive business outcomes. Your sales process should define who does what and when they do it so reps have a clear map to align with the buyer.
At the same time, a qualification methodology like Meddicc can give your reps an easy tool to account for key triggers in a sales process (e.g., decision process, metrics, champion, etc…). While these factors are important to align with buyers during their decision process, they also ensure that you minimize surprises in the final stages of the opportunity. For example, reps may typically encounter a CFO later in the sales process.
However, if that person is a critical component to closing the deal, it would be beneficial for a rep to engage that person early in the sales process. Outlining his/her value drivers, required capabilities, and desired metrics in advance can help preserve margin and make the difference between a closed-won deal and one that falls to no decision or even worse, a competitor.
4. Alignment on What Constitutes a Great Deal for Your Company
It is extremely difficult to manage a great negotiation strategy if there is confusion among the sales team on the outcomes you’re trying to drive with your sales negotiations. What are the negotiable items that you are willing to accept in a customer negotiation? What are your give-gets? What are you not willing to negotiate on (your anchors)? If your reps, and more importantly your managers, have a clear understanding of the overall negotiation strategy, it will be much easier for them to set the deal up for success.
The best way to arm your salespeople with great negotiation skills is to enable them sell based on what’s meaningful for the buyer. The first step in achieving that is to build a consistent understanding in your company on the value and differentiation you provide and what makes a great outcome in any negotiation.