Negotiation can be an intimidating business. The term “negotiating” usually conjures up images of tense hostage situations, striking auto workers or sports agents representing highly-paid athletes.
In life, we all participate in varying forms of negotiation a hundred times a day; in our family and social lives, among our colleagues, and in our business relationshipships. Negotiating is simply the process of helping people get what they want. And a skillful negotiator is someone who achieves a settlement in which everyone is happy.
We have so much to gain and so little to lose by improving our negotiating skills. And the good news is that negotiating is neither painful nor difficult, once a few simple techniques have been mastered.
Sometimes, when I’m speaking to a potential customer, it’s just not the right fit and I am willing to let them walk away. BUT, I want that person to walk away thinking positively about my brand and their experience with me. Much of a sales managers book of business is through word of mouth. If I burn a bridge with a potential customer, then I’m potentially burning several other bridges I didn’t even know about yet!
Everything is not negotiable! My husband and I recently tried to leverage one bank against the other when applying for a housing loan, arguing that if they couldn’t give us the interest rate we wanted, we were willing to walk away and go to the other bank.
“Go ahead,” the bank officer muttered pompously. “I’ve got other applicants, waiting for approval. If you can get a better deal somewhere else, feel free to leave.”
I hated that pompous remark and thought “He’s got a lot of nerve, and I am better off not dealing with him”. But I knew that behind that attitude he must have had a strong reason for the way he held on to his side of the argument. And eventually, because of other value-added services they could provide us, his bank became our lender, even though they had a somewhat higher rate.
We know that the only way to offset an objection surrounding price is to build value. Otherwise, the service provider is viewed as a mere commodity.
Similarly, when I am asked to scale down my fees, I too take the example of why a Merc when a Maruti Car would also help us reach the same place. Or, why a Rolex when my Titan watch shows me the same time. Or an iPhone or any Android, functionality remains the same. Obviously, according to me, I see myself as providing better value than others and hence feel I am entitled to it.
The way to distinguish your service and its value-added dimension is to probe for the needs of the client, and the urgency in filling his requirement. Once the need has been identified (and qualified), you’ll be in a position to hold the line, or at least reach an agreement in which both parties feel satisfied and are in a win-win situation.
The loan officer at my bank was able to secure my business, even though he charged a higher rate of interest than a competitor. The reason? There were other important considerations which I considered to be of value that led to our settlement.
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