Many times, the only difference between landing a major deal and allowing it to slip through your fingers is simply overlooking a subtle detail or experiencing a temporary lapse of self-awareness.
While there's no foolproof formula for conquering the art of business negotiation completely, there are certain principles and psychological elements you can use to your advantage.
These will not only help you turn the process of business negotiation into a science but will give you unprecedented leverage and greatly increase your odds of sealing the deal.
Know the Other Party's Situation
Preliminary research is crucial in order to know what you're working with and what you're up against. The trick to understanding the other party is getting answers to a few key questions.
- What obstacles or challenges are facing a potential customer?
- What other options do they have besides your product/service?
- What type of budget do they have?
- What type of timeline are they looking at?
Once you know their specific needs, you can adjust your pitch accordingly.
Study the Competition
In all likelihood, you're going to be facing some level of competition, and your potential customer will have other avenues they can take. Knowing which companies you're up against is essential for figuring out exactly how you can distinguish yourself and make a case for why the customer should choose you over others.
Here are some online tools to help you spy on your competitions online marketing efforts.
- Check your competitor's backlinks: ahrefs.com
- Check your competitor's keyword rankings: semrush.com
- Check your competitor's on page SEO: onpage.org
- Check your competitor's social mentions: socialmention.com
- Check your competitor's social shares: buzzsumo.com
- Check your competitor's branding reach: google.com/trends
- Check what technology and platforms your competitors are using and what type of ads they are running: builtwith.com
For example, you may need to tweak your product/service offering, provide a customized plan, adjust the pricing, and so on. When you're able to offer something that competitors cannot, along with a personal touch, sealing the deal can be done with relative ease.
Prepare Your Pitch
Just as a warrior never enters battle without initial preparation, you'll want to plot out your pitch and fine-tune it until it hits all of the sweet spots. Make sure that it follows a logical sequence and touches on the following:
- Your company's credentials
- Market conditions
- Your customer's challenges
- How your product/service can help overcome those challenges
- Examples of your product/service in action
- Cost, timeline, and any other pertinent details.
Likability is a highly important yet arguably underrated aspect of closing deals. After all, would you be more inclined to buy from someone you like or someone you find insincere and downright irritating?
This is why it helps to "butter your client up" a little and create a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Don't change their mind. Change their mood.
You can often achieve this by not making your entire presentation business related. Instead, pepper in some humor and brief personal stories so that you come across more as an actual human being rather than a cold, hard selling machine. Sharing relevant personal stories is helpful because they make you more relatable and allow you to form a deeper connection to the point that a potential customer feels like they've known you for years even though you've just met.
Seek out the Decision Maker
In order to ultimately convert, it's important that you're pitching to an individual who holds sway and can pull the trigger. Otherwise, if a person has to go up the chain of command for approval, your efforts can fall on deaf ears.
This is why you should do your research to find out who the top influencers are within a company and who has the power to make final decisions. Do everything within your power to seek out a top decision maker and get in contact with them.
If you're unable to do this, the next best thing is to tailor your pitch so that it's geared to match a decision maker's needs and interests. When the information inevitably moves its way to the top of the totem pole, it should trigger a positive response and will hopefully lead to a one-on-one meeting with a decision maker.
Negotiate at the Right Time
Before any actual negotiation takes place, it's important that all of the details are ironed out and no stones are left unturned. Although it's fine and even advisable to discuss a ballpark price fairly early on, negotiation should be done toward the end after both parties are on the same page.
This ensures that your potential customer sees all of the individual parts as a whole and has an all encompassing vantage point. That way, both parties will be fully prepared to enter into negotiation, and the odds of striking a favorable deal are increased considerably.
Closing deals isn't rocket science. It simply relies on an understanding of a potential customer's specific needs and ultimately demonstrating how your product or service addresses those needs. This, combined with adequate preparation and possessing the likability factor, will help you get the results you're looking for and seal the deal every time.
What strategies have you found to be effective for winning over customers and getting them to take action?