Successful Negotiation Skills in Sales Teams Today

One successful negotiation skill to be practiced and used today is that of ‘elaboration’.  When a client or prospect is in negotiation with you, any hurdle or challenge should be explored by ‘elaboration’.  Ask more questions of the client and get deeper into their issue or problem.  Get them to talk.

Ask or drill down on 3 or 4 levels of questions on any negotiation problem.  Seek to know more about the client before you want them to consider your points of negotiation or the transaction.  It’s a strategy that is well worth practice and refinement.

From this approach there is a special result that is quite common known as the ‘Freudian Slip’.  By asking questions you are encouraging the client to talk about their perspective; soon you will see them open up on the potential for agreement and the ultimate outcome that they seek in final satisfaction.  You then know what you can negotiate on and the way to do it.  You have something to work with.

So what can you do in this process of ‘elaboration’?  Try some of these:

  1. Get more facts about the client as they see the potential transaction, sale, or deal.  Facts can be explored further.  Ask the client to tell you more.
  2. Ask the client for opinions about the situation of the deal and how it could match their situation.
  3. Get the client to talk about their targets and help them compare those targets to the market conditions and the supply of goods or services from their perspective.
  4. Questions can be directed towards ‘minor closes’.  In that way you take the client closer to the main negotiation result.  Any major negotiation is a series of small agreements in a logical order.  Structure your pitch or presentation accordingly.
  5. Some clients get lost in the complexity of a transaction, sale, or negotiation; perhaps the market conditions are new to them.  Make things simple.  Identify if there is any lack of understanding on the clients part that could have an impact on your ultimate outcome.  You will soon know if they really do not understand the reality of your produce and service supply.

Simple skills like this can help you with the negotiation techniques and strategies that directly suit the product or service that you are offering.  I go back to the main point here.  Get the facts from the client and then drill down deeper.

Tell Stories of Failure as Part of Your Sales Pitch

It may seem a bit strange but you can use stories of ‘failure’ as part of your sales pitch.  By ‘failure’ I mean situations where other clients and prospects really made the wrong choices and suffered as a consequence.  That simple illustration can help your current clients see the advantage of fresh new ideas and perhaps the recommendations made as part of your sales pitch today.

Clients don’t want to make mistakes.  A ‘failure’ situation is actually something that can help your current clients move ahead in a positive way and in doing so avoid any poor decisions.

So here are the rules to the process:

  1. Tell stories from the market and provide real life facts and information.
  2. A failure situation is actually a valuable lesson to someone.  Your current clients may appreciate that knowledge.
  3. Make connections between your current clients situation and the ‘failure event’ so they know that it is relevant and real.
  4. From the failure you can work up recommendations and alternatives.  Every client likes to have a few alternatives to consider.
  5. Put yourself in the solution and in the story.  Show the client the timeline to progress as you see it and break it up into stages of action.  Small simple steps are the easy way to move through a problem.

It is fairly easy to pitch on a sale situation if you follow these rules.  It is simple sales logic.  The client doesn’t want to make a mistake; they will listen to you.  You become the solution process.  The depth of your recommendations and solutions will help the client move ahead.  That’s how you can close on a sales pitch.

Questioning Tips for Top Salespeople

There are different types of questions that you can use in a sales or customer service situation.  In fact there are many question alternatives and they are used in circumstances that suit.  As a sales negotiator it pays to practice your dialogue to draw on these very special skills. (NB – you can get plenty of commercial real estate negotiation tips right here in Snapshot right here – its free)

Negotiation Questions for Brokerage

So what question types are there?  Try these for starters:

  1. Open – this question type will be encouraging a detailed answer and not a basic reply.
  2. Closed – this question type will be used where you want to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  This can be quite useful in closing on a critical point of a negotiation.
  3. Reflective – what you are doing here is asking the other person to tell you more based on a thinking process
  4. Leading – as the name suggests the concept here is to direct the conversation in a particular way
  5. Testing – the strategy here is to get feedback from the other person
  6. Probing – you use this when you want more information in greater detail
  7. Redirecting – this question type is designed to put the other person on a different point of discussion

So you can use all of these in many different ways.  A top salesperson will be well practiced in all of these processes.  If you want to improve your dialogue for better sales conversions think about how you can apply all of these concepts with your product or service.

When the customer responds to your questions, listen with all of your senses operating at peak performance.  Watch what they do, hear what they say, and listen to their words.  A true negotiator blends all of the senses as part of negotiating on a deal or an agreement with clients and prospects.

Questioning Strategies in Professional Sales Today

In sales and in business today, the process of asking questions has almost become a real art.  So many times we come up against complex situations and negotiations.  Progressing through those matters involves questions.  Sometimes we have to be discreet and at other times direct as we question.

It doesn’t matter what client or prospect challenge you have.  The skills of questioning will help advance you towards understanding.  Ultimately you can get closer to a sale through direct questioning.  Good questions are stepping stones to an outcome.  They are the tools to use as a professional salesperson today in business.

Good questions allow you to control the negotiation or business situation.  You are actually directing the topics and focus of the discussion.  Top salespeople do that.

Here are some tips to help you refine your questioning processes in negotiating and client contact:

  1. When you ask a direct question watch the eyes of the other person as they respond.  Are they looking at you as they respond or are they avoiding eye contact?  Perhaps they are hiding the real truth of the matter as they respond.
  2. Look at the angle of their body to you as the other person talks.  Are they standing directly toward you or are they standing at an angle?
  3. Are they breathing normally or are they breathing with greater depth.  That could be a sign of anxiety.
  4. Are they assertive in response or are they vague?  Ask deeper questions if they appear to be avoiding the issue or limiting their responses.
  5. In some cases you can pace your conversation to that of the other person.  What you are doing here is matching yourself into their momentum in conversation and negotiation.  When you reach their conversational pace the agreement you want is easier to achieve.
  6. Understand the differences between open and closed questions and when to ask each particular type.
  7. If you are dealing with a complex or important issue, drill down into an issue with deeper questions.  Don’t be afraid to probe where the issue is critical to the negotiation.  On critical points you can drill down many times into a question to get a deeper answer.
  8. Empathise with the other person where appropriate to consolidate on a point of importance.  Empathy is a stepping stone in negotiation.
  9. Repeat back to the other person any critical points in the situation or the discussion.  That will help show your complete understanding of their position.
  10. Agree to take action where points of the discussion are appropriate.  Taking action can solve problems quickly.
  11. Always take notes during or after a critical meeting with important issues being discussed.

In closing on this topic it is worthwhile noting that top sales people are great negotiators.  At the centre of it all they know how to ask the right question in the right way.

Look for the Sales Opportunity with Every Client Challenge

When involved in sales and marketing it is easy to succumb to the pressures of the situation.  Some clients will be tougher to work with than others.  Some deals will seem impossible at first glance.  Some negotiations will take a long time to work through. It is too easy to take situations personally and give in to a problem.

Show me a top salesperson and I will show you a person that has stepped up to the challenge of many different deals and situations.  The ‘easy way’ is rarely the ‘best way’ when it comes to professional selling.  Look at a client challenge for what it is; an opportunity to go further and work under seemingly impossible odds.

So how can you handle this?  Understand what your market is doing and prepare for it.  At your next sales meeting ask around the team to see what the biggest challenges are at the moment.  Make a list of current difficulties.  Here is one that I got from a recent team in a coaching situation:

  1. Clients are slow to make a decision
  2. The price is slowing the decision down
  3. The ultimate decision maker is not involved in the pitch until the very last stage
  4. The client will not give you the whole story and list their requirements
  5. Comparable prices are ‘killing’ the deal
  6. The client is not totally honest.
  7. There are not enough clients in the market
  8. The competitors are ‘jumping’ all over my clients with special deals
  9. Head office has stepped into the deal and now I am working with others to get a decision

Given your client base and business market you can probably add to the ‘challenges’ list.  When you look at each issue singularly it is easy to see that there are ways to get through the challenge.  Push further into the requirements and the current information.  Go that little bit further to understand; become a ‘solution provider’ and not a ‘solution pusher’.

Every client will be motivated by something.  Perhaps their motivation is a combination of a number of things.  Take the time to get closer to your clients before you push the negotiation and sale button.  A good question and answer process together with excellent product knowledge will get you much closer to a deal than anything else.


Questioning Techniques in Negotiation and Selling

When you are in a sales situation or a negotiation, the power of questions should not be underestimated.  Questions will help you move the other person through problems, and in many cases they will answer the negotiation challenge themselves.

The questioning process is called the ‘Freudian Slip’ and is used by many good salespeople.  It operates on the premise that most people want to reach an agreement, and if you ask them enough questions, they will tell you the answer to the problem and perhaps even give themselves a solution.

It should be said that the questions that you ask should be ‘open’ and not ‘closed’ questions.  You can use the words like:

  • How will you
  • What will you
  • When would you
  • Would you
  • Should you

The one word that you cannot use is ‘Why’, and the question content that follows it.  The reason being is that it is a challenging approach that threatens the conversation flow; it is too probing and threatening.  The use of ‘Why’ is judgemental and can break the trust that you are creating in the conversation.

When you ask the right questions you get answers that can help you and the client move to a solution.  In most cases a sale is not made by you talking, rather it is made by you listening to the answers that you get.

One More Idea

As you ask the prospect or client questions, the answers that you get should be drilled down into and questioned further.  This has two clear benefits:

  • It shows the client or customer that you really are listening and are interested in what they have to say
  • It shows the client that you really understand the complete issue and want all the facts to help their position or negotiation

In some complex sales situations it pays dividends if you take notes during the comments of the other person.  The notes can be used as a reference point to further discussion, however the great advantage that the note taking process offers is that it gives you time to think before you respond.

In any sales negotiation or client presentation, do not do all of the talking.  Give the client lots of opportunities to say things and respond to your ideas and recommendations.  As a general rule, you should talk less and they should talk more.  Even though you are doing a ‘presentation’, the process can be very connecting and create a two way conversation.  Ask the client for comments as you proceed and get their opinion on key matters.  Build the communication at every opportunity.

If you want more tips on sales, negotiation, or closing, you can get them in our Newsletter.