The art of negotiation

How to secure a deal

Negotiation is one of the most vital skills any entrepreneur can have. It’s not just in sales meetings, but in every-day situations where you’ll be using negotiating skills – for example negotiating with staff over time off, or department budgets, or suppliers who want to hike prices and so on. But most of all, you’ll need those negotiation skills in securing a deal.

The skills used in a sales meeting will be the same as those used in all the other situations. First of all, whenever you’re entering a negotiation, make sure you’re prepared. Know what you want to get out of the meeting, and what you’re prepared to offer to prevent you from going too low on price or promising things you can’t deliver.

Through previous contact with the buyer, you should also have a good idea of what they want out of the negotiations too.

In the negotiations, remain confident. Believe in what you’re selling and the benefits it will give to the buyer, and communicate this clearly. Don’t undersell under pressure. Try and keep the negotiations under your control – within your price range, delivery time or profit margin.

Listen. If you’re listening carefully, you’ll work out what it will take for you to close the deal, and be able to answer their concerns, as well as reinforce the personal relationship with the buyer. You might even learn other things of interest about them or your competition.

Be careful about how much you discount, as discounting can backfire if you’re undervaluing your product by doing so. If it’s a deal breaker then tread carefully to ensure you still get a sensible margin. And no matter how tempting, don’t over-promise. If the buyer has agreed to purchase at full price, don’t get carried away and promise to deliver in terms of stock and timings things that aren’t possible.

Throughout your negotiations, think of the long-term relationship. Negotiating fairly, and getting a positive outcome for both parties will strengthen your relationship with the buyer.

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