Effective negotiating is not a substitute for selling skills. Many salespeople believe that they need to be better negotiators, when what they really need is improved selling skills.
Let's define selling from my perspective. 1. Selling is identifying good prospects (which means that have a need and desire for a solution that your product or service will give them.) 2. Positioning your product or service in the mind of the prospect as the best solution for their available resources. 3. Presenting the aspects (features and benefits) of your product or service to the prospect in a way that they see how these solutions will be achieved. 4. Answering any unspoken questions (sales objections) during this process and asking for the business. (That's called closing, folks.)
Let's define negotiating. Negotiating begins where selling leaves off. It is finding those areas of difference or compromise in: a. features (what they can live without) b. delivery terms (what they need and what you can give them.) c. financial terms (again, what they need and what you can allow.) Negotiating is finding a way to reach a meeting point where you and your prospect can agree with each other's circumstances and still have a win/win relationship. I don't know if the negotiating experts would agree with me, but since this is my Tip, you can decide for yourself whether my argument makes sense.
The close of the sale is the beginning of the client relationship, not the end of something. Negotiating is both parties giving in so that you can have a mutually beneficial working relationship.
Selling is about developing and maintaining positive ongoing relationships. Negotiating can be a one-time issue that only comes up in the beginning of a new relationship or when there are new ingredients added to the relationship puzzle such as a new product introduction, new policies on the part of your organization or your client's, or when a competitor is knocking on your customer's door.
Both skills--selling and negotiating--are necessary if you are to have any degree of career success in sales.
Which is more important? You decide.
About the Author:
Tim Connor is the president of Connor Resource Group in Davidson, NC.
He has been a full time professional speaker and trainer since 1973, and he has given over 4,500 presentations in twenty countries, to a wide variety of sales, management and executive audiences.