Sales Negotiation Traps that Make the Difference between Success and Failure
Sales negotiation traps can trip you up. No one wants to lose an important sales negotiation, but unless you are either very experienced or careful to avoid four common sales negotiation traps, you may emerge as less than a winner. And it has always been our contention that when there is an uneven conclusion or, worse, a clear loser, the sales negotiation has failed and will eventually have negative consequences for both sides.
Five Sales Negotiation Traps to Avoid
Based upon over 30 years of sales negotiations and research across nineteen countries, here are five sales negotiation traps to avoid at all costs:
1. The” First Offer” Trap
It used to be accepted that you should never make the first offer during a sales negotiation because it would tip off the other side to what you really want or need. However, in our experience, making the first offer can give you an advantage in leading the subsequent talks. You present a framework for the discussion that follows. Our recommendation? When you feel confident that you are fully prepared with pertinent information, it may make sense to lead with your preferred plan.
A second part of this “first offer” sales negotiation trap is that it is easy to fall into the trap of accepting the other side’s offer too fast. In fact, it’s always best to pace yourself. As eager as you are to reach an agreement, hasty moves are almost always regretted.
Just think of how unsatisfying it can feel if you are the party whose offer has been too quickly accepted. You can’t help but wonder what you unnecessarily gave away. It’s all about the so-called subjective value – how you feel about the negotiation is often more important in the long term than the specific economic value.
2. The Trap of Inflexibility
You should never enter a sales negotiation without a clear idea of what would be the best outcome for both parties. And yet, sales negotiations are dynamic; you can’t fully predict what will be on the table. Don’t fall into the trap of holding on too tight to your bias of an ideal result. There may be something even more to your advantage as the discussion unfolds.
3. The Trap of False Assumptions
Beware of assuming you know the motivations of the other party simply by what they do or say. If you really want a satisfactory result for both sides, you need to find out what is behind the moves the other side is making. Why are they unwilling to consider your request to extend the payment schedule?
Perhaps they have had a bad experience in the past where they didn’t get fully paid. Or their cash flow is a problem. Or there’s someone in procurement blocking any discussion of payments over time – it’s upfront now or else. Only when you fully understand the big picture, can you negotiate more effectively.
4. The Trap of the Short vs. Long Term Approach
Be clear about what type of sales negotiation you are in. Will the agreement be effective in the short or long term? Your sales negotiation tactics should be different for each. For long-term negotiations to succeed, you need the other side to be successful for the duration of the agreement. Think through your moves and their consequences thoroughly before you sign the deal.
5. The Trap of Pre-Conceived Notions
You’ve done careful preparation, but you still cannot fully know the other party’s situation. Do not assume you know what the other side truly wants and values. Finding out what matters most is the art of a successful sales negotiation. You will need to listen carefully, question and probe to fill in the blanks so you have maximum wiggle room to obtain a satisfactory two-sided agreement.
The Bottom Line
We negotiate every day – with our partner over who should do the dishes, with our teenager who wants to stay out after curfew, with our boss for more money, with our landlord for a better rent. Especially in a sales negotiation, practice, prepare, and avoid the common pitfalls above. Good luck!
To learn more about sales negotiations, download The 2 Most Common Sales Negotiation Tactics to Prepare For
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