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:
- 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.
- Ask the client for opinions about the situation of the deal and how it could match their situation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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?
- Are they breathing normally or are they breathing with greater depth. That could be a sign of anxiety.
- Are they assertive in response or are they vague? Ask deeper questions if they appear to be avoiding the issue or limiting their responses.
- 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.
- Understand the differences between open and closed questions and when to ask each particular type.
- 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.
- Empathise with the other person where appropriate to consolidate on a point of importance. Empathy is a stepping stone in negotiation.
- 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.
- Agree to take action where points of the discussion are appropriate. Taking action can solve problems quickly.
- 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.