The Art of Negotiation or “Don’t drop your pants”!

The Art of Negotiation or “Don’t drop your pants”!

The Art of Negotiation or “Don’t drop your pants”!

The Art of Negotiation or “Don’t drop your pants”!

One of my favourite films of all time is The Life of Brian by Monty Python. I have watched it numerous times and can reel out countless quotes from the movie, which still make me laugh.Being in sales, one of my favourite scenes from the film is when Brian (“he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy” – sorry couldn’t resist!!!) is running away from the Romans and tries to buy a fake beard from a market trader aka Eric Idle. Brian asks how much it is, and when told 20 shekels, tries to pay the full amount. It’s at this point he’s told, he can’t do that, you have got to haggle and then the scene descends into a superb comedy routine around “the haggle”.

In today’s world, we wouldn’t dream of saying that to our customers, but funnily enough, the customer feels quite happy asking us to haggle (or negotiate if we are being more professional!!).

Some people are quite comfortable when the customer asks to negotiate and enjoy the game that can then ensue, but there are a lot of people that feel very uncomfortable with this process. If you are not prepared you can find yourself giving into the customer’s demands. I have written this blog to help those of you that fall into the second category; it will help you feel confident when you are met with this situation and ensure that you achieve a win/win.

So where do we start? Well, even before any negotiation process begins there are a few things that you need to consider:-

  • What are your short, medium and long-term goals?
  • What are you offering, i.e., what is the benefit of your product or service?
  • What could you offer to a customer that is low value to you or high value to them – these are called trade variables
  • What is your walk away minimum?
  • What are your competitors offering?
  • What is happening in your industry?

It is important to have an answer to these questions, as without them you have no basis in which to consider any negotiation against.

Now, let’s think about what we need to do when the customer asks to negotiate:-

  1. Reiterate the benefits of using your product/service.
  2. Then shut up! Don’t fear silence! This is a very important step, and we need to give the customer time to think things through. If you keep talking, you could talk yourself down on price and/or out of business.
  3. If they still want to negotiate, then ask why? Find out what it is they want and why they want it.
  4. Hit the “pause” button and buy yourself some time. It is ok to say to a customer, “let me have a think about this and come back to you”.
  5. During your pause time, you can consider if what the customer wants is reasonable, do you want to work for that, is it compromising your limits.
  6. If this is not what YOU want (remember this is about a win/win situation), think about your trade variables, what could you offer to them? What DO you want?
  7. Once you have answered these questions, go back to the customer and present your solution. Be prepared for them to want to hit their “pause” button to think about what you are proposing.
  8. Be prepared for this to go back and forth until you get to the win/win. Remember, if they are coming back and offering solutions, all is not lost, this is an indication that they want to work with you.
  9. Remember, it is ok to say “No”. If you don’t want to work to the parameters that the customer wants, then don’t.

To feel truly comfortable with negotiating takes time and practice, but when you do push back and start to see the results you want, believe me, you’ll love it.

I hope that you have enjoyed this blog and if you feel that you would like more help with building your negotiation skills, we offer a half-day workshop that helps with this.
More information can be found on our website.

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