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Most business negotiations start with a “no.” Getting to “yes” can often be a long, drawn-out process. With the right negotiation skills, you can speed up the decision-making and close deals faster.

With many salespeople offering products that solve similar problems, how fast you close deals determines your success. Despite the competition from other brands, you can stand out by learning how to sell more at a faster rate. If you've ever wished you could sell more in less time, here are some effective negotiation techniques to hit your sales goals.

Negotiate with the Decision Maker

In sales, a common speedbump is spending time trying to persuade a lead, only to realize that the person has to consult the real decision maker. Talking to the wrong person is not only a time drain but can also result in unfavourable deals.

When your lead bumps you up to someone else, the concessions you already made will form a new base. The decision maker will most likely request more concessions.

Finding out who gets the final say isn’t always easy. A best negotiating course can prepare salespeople to more easily identify key decision makers.

Ask the Right Questions

As a general rule, if you're unsure who you’re speaking to, make sure you check before negotiating. Directly asking whether the person is the decision maker can be effective. If not, ask to speak to the decision maker. You can make polite but direct enquiries such as:

  • Who else in your organization is involved in the buying process?
  • Who approves the invoices in your organization?
  • Who is the budget holder for these kinds of purchases?

In smaller organizations, the decision maker is usually a CEO, cofounder, or a VP. In larger companies, look for specialized roles such as operations manager, business development manager, or purchasing manager.

Leverage Connections

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You may also identify and reach decision makers by leveraging your mutual connections. For instance, do you have a friend who works at the organization? Can that friend directly introduce you to the decision maker? Do you have shared LinkedIn connections? Do you have shared interests, such as attendance to similar courses?

Know Your Offering

For salespeople, knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about your product, brand, the market, and the customer’s organization, the more confident you can be at pitching to prospects.

Different buyers may need different approaches. Having a thorough knowledge of what you're selling can enable you to use different negotiation tactics to sway customer decisions. Having product knowledge strengthens how confidently you can communicate, so it becomes easier to adapt your presentation style to different types of prospects.

Knowing your product's features and benefits can also boost your enthusiasm when presenting your offer. Your product expertise and a positive attitude can make your sales leads understand the benefits faster, leading to quicker buying decisions.

Your product expertise makes it easier to answer customer questions and match your product to customer needs better. A proper product-customer match often leads to faster decision-making and higher sales volumes. 

Handle Objections Early

Hearing a “no” can be a tough pill to swallow. A “no” is often really a prospect saying that there is a hurdle between your offer and the prospect’s acceptance.  

Negotiation course leaders often advise taking “no” not as an outright rejection but as an indication that the prospect is engaged. The “no” simply means that the salesperson still has some work to do.

By overcoming objections early, you can cut down negotiation times and increase closing rates. There are three main ways you can react to objections.

Zoom In

When zooming in, you get into the frame of the concerns the prospect may raise. Engage the prospect in the area they want to be engaged in. For instance, if the prospect objects on price, you could ask “too high by how much?” or “high compared to whom?” You may also justify your price.

Zoom Out

You can also reframe the prospect's area of concern to include the larger picture. In case of price objections, you might remind the prospect about their long-term goals and mission. You zoom out by reminding the prospect the position of price in relation to other important factors such as their mission, relationship, strategy, profitability, and future survivability.

Pan

You could also steer the conversation away from price to a different concern. Panning could be a more useful conversation, especially if you're more flexible in other areas of value creation. For instance, you may say, "in order to reduce our price, we would have to cut back on one of our services. So, what can you do without?”

Create Urgency

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For faster sales, make your prospects feel that today marks the day they start to solve all their problems. Any delays in making a decision and the solution will go to someone else or disappear altogether.

Think back to your own experiences. Have you ever bought a last-minute gift for a loved one? Say it’s the day before Valentine’s Day, and you’ve rushed to the store half an hour before closing. With the store being crowded and time running out, you’re likely to grab the first gift that looks halfway decent and make a quick decision to buy regardless of how overpriced it may be. Given your time constraints, you likely won’t consider bargaining or shopping around.

Skilled salespeople use negotiation training games to practice creating a similar urgency in their prospects. During negotiations, you can elicit urgency by providing incentives for quick decisions, imposing deadlines, or communicating scarcity.

Make the prospect understand the additional value they stand to gain by buying right now rather than later. For example, let's say you're selling holiday tours. If the customer buys a tour package six months in advance, you can offer lower rates and service upgrades.

If the customer waits until the final month, your bookings may be full, prices will be higher, and upgrades may be unavailable. Your advance holiday package offer could trigger the prospect's loss aversion instinct, making your offer irresistible and urgent.

(guest article)

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