Do You Know You’re in Sales? (and Four Tips on Negotiating the Right Way)

May 13, 2011

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A lot of people cringe when they think about selling something. They say they don’t want to be pushy or don’t want to experience rejection.

I’ve got a surprise for you – we are all in sales and we all negotiate.

Whether or not you do it for a living doesn’t matter. We all sell. We all negotiate. Remember the baseball cards you used to trade as a kid? You were selling. Example – I’ll give you my Mark McGwire 85 Topps rookie card for your Ken Griffey Junior Upper Deck rookie….Okay, I’ll do it, if you also throw in that Barry Bonds rookie card.

I’ve been in corporate sales for 12 years. I can assure you that basic fundamentals of negotiation and selling at a high level aren’t too different from what we did as kids. For example, in the story above each card had a certain value assigned to it. One was an “official” book value. The other is the value each kid placed on that card. Maybe the McGwire card was worth $50 and so was the Griffey card, but to the kid with the Griffey card, his was worth more (maybe it was a Christmas gift or something). That’s why he added the Bonds card as well. Make sense?

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, in business and in adult life the stakes are much higher and there’s usually more people involved, but the same principles still exist.

It’s finding a scenario where both parties leave the table feeling satisfied. In a sales situation where an offer is made and is accepted on the first pass, you will find that many times the person who made the initial offer will feel somewhat defeated. It’s interesting from a psychological standpoint. For some reason, if someone rejects an offer and counters, we as humans feel better about the deal – even if we make a concession and the amount we receive is less than what the first offer was.

Do these next four things and you will be on your way to increased success during any sale or negotiation.

Look for ways to increase the pie. Don’t just look for a win/win. Look for other things that may be low cost to you, but high value to the other party (real life example – I bought my wife a car last year. When we were close to agreement, I asked a simple question – “what service can you provide that’s low cost to you and of value to me.” – Right away the sales guy offered new floor mats. I said, “how about future service?” We settled on four oil changes and general service visits. Not a ton of money, but it’ll save me about $200 going forward. It’s low cost to the dealer. On the flip side, I offered a testimonial – low cost for me, high value for them.

If you give a concession, ask for one in return – No matter how small. Once you set the tone of not asking for one back, it will affect future discussions. In my world, it works kind of like this. If we’re in a negotiation and someone asks for a price discount. Of course, we’ll consider it, but we need something in return. Looking back at the prior point, what’s low cost to them and high value to me? Well, how about increasing the term of the agreement (aka we will reduce the cost by x, but you sign on for an extra two years).

Always offer options. I say go with no more than three. Paradox of choice comes in after that. Three options make you look flexible, which you should be. Everything starts meshing together, however, if you throw out more than that. Let’s say you’ve decided to upgrade to the Ipad 2. You still have your first gen Ipad, plus a bunch of accessories. Your buddy says he wants to buy it from you. So, give him some options. You can sell the ipad on it’s own for $425 (option 1), you can sell the ipad with the extra charger for $450 (option 2), or you can add in all the accessories (extra battery, screen guard, etc) for $475. The more they buy the better deal they get. You look flexible by giving choices. The other person will appreciate it and the negotiation has a lot of ways to go (you can mix and mash different parameters from all three).

Stop Talking – Many people will talk because they’re uncomfortable with silence. Watch an elite poker player. They go all in, and you won’t see them move an inch. No facial expression. Nothing. Mimic this. If you ask for something or answer a question, just stop talking. This can even be in a retail store that doesn’t have a reputation for negotiating. Next time you’re buying a TV or something at Best Buy, ask a simple, open-ended question – what type of deal can you give me if I buy this right now? The answer may be none, but there’s usually something they can do (i.e. an upcoming promotion that they can get their boss to approve now).

So, the next time you hear yourself say that you “hate” having to “sell” anything, remember that we all sell in some way, shape or form.

Happy Selling!

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