Do you have the right combination of negotiation tools, tactics, and strategies in your arsenal? Do you understand how important it is to develop negotiation skills? In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Kristie Jones shares some of her favorite negotiation tools. She also gives some sage advice about the negotiation process. Don’t miss it!
Kristie Jones is the Principal at the Sales Acceleration Group. Kristie is the go-to expert for tech startup founders who want to accelerate their revenue by improving their sales strategy, process, and people. She uses her 15+ years of experience to help small and mid-sized technology companies take their revenue to the next level.
According to Kristie, negotiation is the process of working toward an agreement on an issue formally not agreed upon. She notes that people don’t regularly see eye-to-eye on numerous topics. So the ability to talk through differences without damaging a business relationship is critical to ongoing and long-term success.
Negotiation gets tricky because people, in general, don’t like to negotiate. Not only that, but most sales reps don’t have the correct formal training or repeatable processes in place that allow them to deal with those situations—and proper training is key. Salespeople have a process for filling funnels. We have cadences and sequences to handle outbound leads, stages in the sales cycle, and more. But Kristie is willing to bet that no one could pull out a repeatable strategy for negotiation.
Kristie points out that you have to seek to understand. She handles negotiation like she would an objection and she handles an objection by asking more questions. When a weird question comes up that seems out of left field, assume that the prospect has had a bad experience. Find out the reason the question is being asked. Find out if they have had adverse experiences. Then differentiate yourself from that past bad experience.
If their question is an unreasonable request, she notes that you are completely free to say: “I wish I could. Unfortunately, this is the situation...” What if you could trade something else for money? If it’s a significant client with nice brand recognition, trade case studies or testimonials for a discount. Or adjust the terms of payment instead of reducing the price. Understanding what is influencing their behaviors can help you reach acceptable terms for both parties.
A negotiation tool that Kristie likes to use is calculating the cost of not coming to an agreement. Make a list of costs to each side and write down the disadvantage of not coming to an agreement. Sellers think “I’ve got a lot more to lose than the prospect or customer if this doesn’t come together.” But that’s not always the case. They may lose face with their boss or their team if they don’t make a deal happen. It might not look favorable for them.
People take negotiation personally—but it’s not your money. It’s the company's money. It is everyone's job to get the best deal for their organization. Kristie also states “Don’t set fire to a bridge you might need to cross later.” Some relationships won’t be repairable if you don’t handle them appropriately. There’s a difference between negotiation and personally insulting or offending the person on the other side of the table. An agitated and upset person will impact your bottom-line more than someone who is happy.
Kristie is a huge fan of Acura, so much so that she’s purchased six of them over the last 20 years. She buys all of her cars from a salesman that refers to himself as “The Polish car guy”. Kristie LOVES the negotiation process and haggling and negotiating with her car guy. They’ve developed a nice banter over the years. She waits for one phrase to come out of his mouth and when it does—she knows she’s won.
She admits she employs the ‘Columbo’ technique. Columbo was a TV detective who would pretend everything was wrapped up and then—on his way out the door—would say “Just one more thing…” She always ends the car-buying process with “I’m going to need new floor mats”.
Kristie notes that you must be prepared and know who you’re dealing with. Know how they’re going to react. She comes to the table having done her homework and knows the market value of the car is and what competitors are offering it for. Do the same with your negotiation and you’ll have a great foundation to work from.
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