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Sales Strategy
Aug 8, 2013 | The Canadian Professional Sales Association lock
In our professional selling environment, we are constantly negotiating. Reaching an agreement may involve several conversations and meetings – each one a mini negotiation unto itself. The goal of any sales negotiation should always be to find an agreed-upon solution that is acceptable to each party, and that leaves both sides feeling that they've won, in some way, after the event. It is important to reach this agreement with a strong relationship between the parties intact and thriving.
The key to successful negotiations involves a combination of three things:
1) Preparing before the negotiation,
2) Understanding the negotiating process, and
3) Using your sales skills during the interaction itself.
1. Preparation
Preparation is the most critical component of the sales process – especially the negotiation phase. What do you need to prepare? Here is a list:
Review the Sales Process and Client’s Background
Review the client’s key goals, needs and challenges. As you prepare your proposal, be sure to link your solution to these business issues. Like any part of the sales process, the negotiation phase should not be a product dump, but another in a series of highly productive business conversations where you explain how you can move their business forward with your recommendations.
Determine Your Goals and Understand the Goals of the Client
Know what you want the aim of the negotiation meeting to be. Examine what the objectives of the client will be for this meeting. How might these be in conflict and where they might be linked? Goals can be looked at from three levels: must have, intend to have, and nice to have.
Examine Your Weaknesses
Be prepared to discuss issues your client may raise that represent your weaknesses. You may need to educate your client as to why these matters are not as important, or compel your company to fix the problems.
Negotiation concessions are sometimes referred to as offers or trade-offs, where one or both parties engage in conceding, yielding, or compromising on issues under negotiation. What do you and the other person have that you can trade? What do you each have that the other wants? What are you each comfortable giving away? If you plan ahead, you may be able to offer concessions that are valuable to your customer but of low cost to you and your organization.
Your Alternative Should a Negotiation Not be Reached
Hopefully you are negotiating something that cannot be easily purchased by your customer elsewhere. This is often, however, not the case. As the seller, sometimes your best alternative to a negotiated agreement might be to simply do nothing. Don’t forget that walking away from a negotiation and doing nothing is always an option and part of effective negotiations.
Your Bottom Line
Enter every negotiation knowing your bottom line on all of the key elements (product offering, price, delivery, etc.). Your bottom line is the lowest you are willing to go in order to make a deal.
In every negotiation each party brings some level of “power” to the process, and typically the party with the most power has the upper hand in the negotiation process. Power can come from many sources, primarily: 
Fit – how well your solution matches the client’s situation
Time – how immediately the customer needs a solution
Other Suppliers – how many alternative options the prospect has
Alliances – how strong and plentiful your relationships are
Commitment – the amount of time the prospect invests with you during the sales process
Credibility – your reputation and expertise
Sales Skill – your ability to create and follow an account plan
2. Understanding the Process
The negotiation phase of the sales process will be conducted in a similar manner to other sales meetings that you lead with your client, but the goal of this phase specifically is to reach an agreement to do business together.
Open the Meeting – greet and build rapport, establish context, gain agreement to participate
Statement of Goals – each party should clearly outline what they’d like to achieve
Make Your Offer – go through your proposal, some low-value concessions may be offered here
Disagreement and Compromise – listen for phrases like “suppose we…” or “what if we could…” as clues that you may need to defer the negotiation at this point for some time
Agreement – this is where a resolution is imminent
Review and Confirm – summarize and prioritize key issues
Gain Commitment – ask for the order
3. Sales Skills
Like every other interaction with your customers and prospects, you should consistently employ your sales skills. Review the sales model that your organization has taught you, prepare for the meeting utilizing these skills and then follow through when you are in front of your customer.
As you conduct the negotiation you must always be truthful. This is not the time to stretch facts or misrepresent your company in any way. Similarly, don’t be afraid to speak from the heart. This means telling the client or prospect why you want to do business with them. Include the facts and your feelings, but most importantly, be sure to articulate what’s in it for them. Displaying this vulnerability shows your human side, ultimately promoting a stronger feeling of trust.
About the Canadian Professional Sales Association
Since 1874, we’ve been developing and serving sales professionals by providing programs, benefits, and resources that help you sell more, and sell smarter. 
Contact us today at or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.
Copyright ©2013 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
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