Do Your Homework! 4 Things to Know Before You Negotiate

By Aidan Murphy
January 22, 2014

If you’re not willing to do your homework before heading into a negotiation, then you have every reason to dread negotiating. There is a pretty simple belief I’ve held for years: The more prepared you are heading into a negotiation, the more likely you’ll exit the negotiation with a successful outcome.

If you stop to think about it, this is no different than a student planning to take a test or an athlete preparing for a big game. Preparation increases the likelihood of success.

If preparing is important, then how do you prepare to negotiate? It’s really quite simple. It comes down to four things:

1. Be confident in exactly what you will offer.
2. Use time to your advantage.
3. Know two or more critical needs the customer has that you can help them with.
4. Be certain you’re negotiating with a person who can make a decision.

That’s it! Knowing how to use each of the four items is key. Here are some quick tips to help you use each one successfully:

1. Be confident and know exactly what you will offer.

The key reason salespeople give too much when negotiating is because they failed to establish before hand what their negotiating boundaries are going to be. Knowing your offer will increase your level of confidence.

When you do present your offer, you must do it with confidence. This means strong body language, solid voice and tone and, most of all, eye contact. Customers – especially those who like to negotiate – will sense immediately in your body language if there is room to give. The best way to prevent this is by not showing a weakness.

2. Use time to your advantage.

Nothing will delay a decision more than a customer knowing they don’t have to make a decision. Take that option away from them by using urgency as not only a reason to close the deal now, but also as a way to help get full-price. If customers know there is either a limited time or a limited supply, their willingness to buy will naturally increase.

3. Know at least two needs the customer has.

This is why the selling process is so important.  It’s all about uncovering the needs of the customer. If the customer doesn’t share their needs, then why should you expect them to be interested in buying anything at full price?

The more needs you can get the customer to share with you, the more you can build on them. Your goal is to help the customer see that what you have to offer is what they need right now!

4. Be certain you’re negotiating with a person who can make a decision.

Make sure you verify during the sales process that the person with whom you are dealing is the decision maker.

A good rule to follow is ASK! Early in the sales process, the salesperson must verify, and the easiest way is to ask them, “How have you made decisions like this in the past?”  A question like this is non-threatening and can help verify the credibility of the person.

That’s it:  Four simple things that allow you to go into a negotiation prepared.  Having answers to these four things doesn’t guarantee success, but it will seriously increase your odds of having a successful negotiation.

  • best practices , customer knowledge , improve win rates , negotiate confidently , sales preparation

    Aidan Murphy

    Aidan is a Senior Pricing Consultant at Vendavo who joined the Vendavo GSD Team from IBM GBS in May 2013. He has planned and delivered custom developments, complex system-integrations and process engineering programs from conception to implementation using both agile and waterfall methodologies. During his 11 years with PwC, PwC Consulting and IBM, Aidan has worked predominately in B2B Pricing with the petroleum industry. He has led local and global delivery teams and has developed global strategies across multiple classes of business. Aidan thrives in global, enterprise environments. He relishes the challenge of making sense of and delivering solutions for complex business problems in partnership with his clients.