I have been negotiating projects and contracts for many years now. I have the ability to win and get what I want. Well, most of the time. However, I always know that when the negotiation is complete and I walk away victorious, there is someone, somewhere who lost. Although the agreement or contract went my way, I never feel good about being the superior negotiator in that fashion.
I have learned that negotiating a win-win is far more satisfying and honestly far more humbling to my Creator. I know that my desire is to control and steer the negotiation in a way that all parties walk away from the table happy that they got what they wanted and nobody lost. Distinction; this is not a compromise, this is a win-win.
I can remember negotiating with one of the areas larger general contractors about the amount of value engineering was needed to reduce the total construction cost and how the savings would be distributed once the costs were calculated if there was a surplus. Essentially the construction company was already awarded with the 27 million dollar project and we communicated that we were willing to walk away if we could not reach an agreement that was equitable for BOTH parties. We were able to achieve a win-win and all parties involved walked away happy.
There are many tips, strategies, steps or disciplines for negotiating and you can simply Google those things. My two basic tenants for negotiating are being willing to walk away and just as important, shut up and listen. When you listen, you hear things and when you hear things you can glean hidden needs or desires that will, if you allow, steer the negotiation. Don’t be in a hurry, just be patient until the end. In most cases, you will achieve a win-win which helps the relationship down the road – just be sure to listen.
If one party in the relationship loses and loses bad, do you think they will ever want to do business with you again? It really is all about relationships and building trust. Knowing that there isn’t a unilateral self serving motive really helps set the tone. Don’t get me wrong, I have been involved in some very aggressive battles where the gloves came off and those can certainly be fun, especially if you come out on top.
We all know that networking is a necessary strategy for success. Whether you are at a trade show, Chamber of Commerce meeting, or even at that barbecue that you volunteered to cook at. Networking can help you create exposure about you, your product or your service in a way that is somewhat innocuous. What I mean by that is most people that go into networking mode become immediately transformed into an obnoxious and cacophonous billboard/foghorn about all their company offers.
Networking requires specific tactics and talents in order to be successful. We all know that listening is a huge tenant of the sale cycle. The old adage that “God gave us two ears and one mouth” would indicate that we should listen twice as much as we talk holds true. In networking the first tactic that I would suggest is balance.
I have been to thousands of networking events and if you strike up a conversation with someone and stand there and listen to them pontificate endlessly then shame on you. Work to control the conversation gently, inserting your sales message and company information all while being mindful of the time. Networking is about quality AND quantity. If you attend a networking event that lasts 2 hours and you talk to 3 people then you have missed the boat. Basically act like a Navy SEAL QRT (Quick Reaction Team); infiltrate, meet objective, no shots fired, ex-fil and move on.
The objective is to meet as many people as you can, share your information, get their information and move to the next person. Hopefully you know what to do with all the contacts that you made. If not, do a quick search here, we’ve got you covered.
Trust and relationships are an integral part of any sales cycle. Far too many sales people focus on the process of closing a sale and not the relationship being built. It is true that through the use of sales tactics like presumptive closes, agreement building and “if I, will you” you can close a sale. The problem arises when that person walks away and feels like he/she was sold something, they take pause and realize that you had your best interest in mind and not theirs.
Nobody wants to be sold anything, they want to buy something and as sales people it’s important that we make that distinction when we are in a sales environment. Long term relationships are the high fruit and the hard close is all about the low fruit. Knowing that the person you just sold something to will benefit from your product and service in the long term will almost always guarantee repeat business. Repeat business is far cheaper than acquiring new business. It will also prove more valuable with regards to testimonials and referrals.
A relationship is far more valuable and profitable than a sale. If you go into a sales opportunity with the myopic goal of closing the deal, you will not develop a solid sales funnel. Conversely, if you go into the same sales opportunity with the desire to learn about the prospect and their needs and goals, you will develop a more trust centric environment and your odds of getting the sale will be much higher. Going into a meeting with the sole desire of closing a deal and you don’t, you will have a difficult path ahead of you to regain the sale. However, if you have their best interest in mind and you don’t get the sale, you have a better opportunity for follow up and a later close which helps fill your pipeline.