The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sales Technique - Negating objections with pre-emptive negotiating

by Jim Prigg

Professional sales people are taught how to handle objections. Yet many people who give advice or are in service professions do not see themselves as sales people. Is this a dilemma or denial?

So what if there was a simple way to decrease objections and boost your acceptance rate for your offers? Would that help you?

Well there is a way to decrease objections. It is by using the art of pre-emptive negotiating skills.

If you build in benefits, help people to move forward, educate people and underline your expertise in your presentation as part of your offer then objections will not arise as much. You will not have to sell as hard. Because objections are subtly answered in your presentation and price haggling is lessened.

Build self-answering questions into your presentation
Include questions like “I suppose you were wondering about such and such?” “Let me explain that to you”. By asking the question you remain in control of the discussion agenda. It looks like part of what you normally do and it takes away the fear of the unknown for the prospect. It is not raised as an objection by the prospect.

Who is the expert?
In your chosen field, you are the expert. Consider the person who comes to see you as someone who needs to be gently educated. Let them know that is what you do. You help people to understand how your advice, product or service will benefit them. That is what you talk to experts for isn’t it?

Negotiation is about finding the best way forward
By including questions like “What do you think is the best way forward” or “How does this suit you?” there is a sense of inclusion by the prospect. People don’t like being told what to do. They like being part of the solution and answer.

Negotiation is a mirror
Negotiation involves giving and taking. If you concede on a particular point, don’t be afraid to ask for something in return. This can be as simple as trading information or agreeing on a time frame, payment terms, model or product. It doesn’t always have to be price you compromise on.

Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
If people’s expectations or demands are too high, unreasonable or too demanding, don’t be afraid to walk away. Many people are not used to that. You can’t take on work or obligations on the margin and try to make it up along the way. Thank them for their interest or enquiry and simply tell them you can’t help them under the circumstances and conditions they want to impose. By all means suggest if they cannot find what they are looking for under the price criteria they have set to come back and see you.

Give options
When negotiating have a range of options that can be delivered that provide the solution. If you have only one solution, then the answer is generally yes or no that solution, isn't it? However if you have two or more solutions then the person is saying yes to one solution and no to another. They may ask you which is best for them. That type of question gives you permission to help make the choice for them.

Don’t be manipulated
You don’t have to automatically accept the opening set of circumstances, neither does your prospect. Your prospect will want to get the best outcome for the best price. That's business. That is part of your responsibility too. So agree with them on that point. But be wary of escalation or late completion clauses and the like, especially if you have no control over other people’s time frames, required outcomes or delivery options.

Observe the reaction and action time frames of people
How long does it take people to respond on simple requests? Is it minutes, days, weeks or don’t people respond at all? The longer it takes to respond the less important the issue is to the prospect or potential purchaser.

Be pleasantly persistent
People expect to make decisions, so ask them in different ways what they want to do and when. Do they want completion by June 30, the end of the month or by the weekend? Ask them. When they tell you act upon it.

Make time work for you
If people put you off ask them when they want to complete the project. If the time frame is lengthy get agreement on fulfilling little pieces of the project by specific dates. Tie them into those dates on their terms with you to check on progress at certain times.

Discover who the real decision maker is
Are you dealing with the person who makes the decision? Make sure you talk to the person with the "power of the cheque book" or those whose authority can guarantee completion or move the issue forward.

All the rapport and camaraderie with people who have no power is not bankable and can waste precious time and effort. They can actually hinder negotiations because you are pitching to the wrong person.

Discover what makes them ache and hurt
What do people really want to fix or solve? People don’t buy products. They buy what the products will do for them. People don’t just buy drills. They buy the holes that drills make. You can’t buy a packet of holes at a hardware store, can you?

So what is the hidden requirement or issue that is making them hurt? Your problem is to discover what you can do to offer solutions and ideas that will make them happy.

Discover what makes them jump for joy
Why do people want to buy products, services, ideas, concepts, seek your advice or make a decision?

Is it quick delivery? Is it the colour? Is it to complete a task by a certain date? Is it to take away complexity? Is it to give security? Is it to make them feel clever?

Whatever it is, find that out and people will be easier to negotiate and deal with. Ask them what they want. When they tell you, obligate them by saying if you can present a reasonable solution within their budget will they buy from you today. (or within a specific time frame)

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Jim Prigg is the MD and Director of client relationships at KnowledgeMaster, a treasure trove of information for sales professionals.

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