Do customers in your industry pay the asking price? Or do they routinely ask for a lower price, better terms, extra merchandise, rebates, slotting fees, or extended service? If you sell business-to-business, you’ve probably never had a customer agree to pay your asking price on the first pass. It’s becoming more common in retail sales, too. What your customers are doing, of course, is practicing an art as old as commerce itself. They’re negotiating.
Negotiation is that stage of the selling process that occurs after the commitment to buy is made but before the sale is actually closed. It’s when the buyer and seller come to terms on the conditions under which the product or service is provided.
Sounds imposing, doesn’t it? And it can be a complicated undertaking, which is why I suggest you approach negotiations as carefully as James Cameron approached the production of Avatar. You need to coordinate all the various components of the negotiation if you are going to produce a successfully orchestrated sale.
Negotiation is a matter of choices by both parties. One party chooses whether or not to offer something and the other one chooses whether or not to accept it. As you’ll see, it’s not always the seller who does the offering, nor is it always the buyer who does the accepting or rejecting. Nor is price the only item subject to negotiation.
When do you negotiate? If you’re a creative seller, you only negotiate the terms of your proposal after the prospect has made the commitment to buy the idea you are selling. If the prospect doesn’t like the idea, no amount of negotiation of the price or any of the other terms will make the sale happen. But once that commitment is made, you can assume that you will negotiate the sale in one way or another.
The price to value ratio is at the heart of every negotiation. Both the buyer and the seller negotiate both sides of that equation, giving gains on one side in return for gains on the other. When the needs of both the buyer and seller are met, the sale occurs.
Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.