Merriam-Webster dictionary defines art as "something that is created with imagination and skill, and that is beautiful, or that expresses important ideas or feelings." If a calligrapher's tools of the trade are paintbrushes and ink, a negotiator's tools are their speech, prose, and verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
The art of negotiation is the art in doing business. Luck and magic do not close deals or persuade clients. Instead, it's one's negotiation skills—the back-and-forth expression of ideas or thoughts worded in ways that consider the client's feelings, views, and emotions to guide them through the sales cycle correspondingly.
Sales conversations and negotiation tactics help shorten the sales cycle and propel your business forward as it drives more sales. In this article, we're taking a deep dive into the art of negotiation and looking into some of the strategies excellent negotiators use to close business deals faster and better.
The Art of Negotiation
From financial transactions to employee salary and conflict resolutions, the corporate world is full of negotiations. What makes negotiation an art is how people overcome their differences and reach a mutual conclusion through the negotiator's communication and sales skills.
Gerard Nierenberg, a lawyer and author of The Art of Negotiating, once said, "If you know how to use certain questions and when to use them, you can often guide a negotiation, and even close it out." Nierenberg is hailed as the Father of Contemporary Negotiating. He founded the Negotiation Institute after realizing that research in this field does not exist.
Today, it provides seminars to Fortune 500 companies and welcomes business professionals across all industries eager to learn about the art of negotiation.
Fast forward today, there has been a lot of research about negotiation—people who do business factor in emotions, behavior, body language, and cross-cultural interactions. Professionals have also developed different strategies when negotiating in-person, by phone call, and by email.
9 Ways to Close Business Deals
1. Talk to a decision-maker
One of the fastest and easiest ways you can close deals is to communicate with the decision-maker—the one who has the final say and in the position to buy. Often, decision-makers will have one member of their team learn all information about a company and its products and services. Hence, there's a good chance that you're negotiating with the wrong person.
Given this, you must tailor your sales pitch to the decision-maker's interests as a way to talk to them, even when they aren't present in the pitch itself. If possible, go to the person directly. You can try setting up a meeting with them to eliminate the speed bump and talk them into trusting your business and your offerings.
2. Be genuine
Do not underestimate one's natural ability to sense what your real intentions are. People can tell if they're dealing with someone who's all talk and too calculated. Of course, there's nothing wrong with preparing your spiel or potential talking points to walk you through the negotiation. However, it's vital to also consider and care for your customer's best interests.
Customers are put off when they feel like they're seen as just another number to top off your quota. Make sure that you actively listen to their concerns and address them accordingly. Moreover, be open to any questions they may have. If you're not sure how to answer, be honest about it. You can always get back to them later.
3. Give a deadline
Establishing a sense of urgency does not mean you are rushing the customer to close the deal. Instead, it implies that your offering is the best solution out there, and the choice to purchase is now. Make sure that you give that sense of urgency subtly. Otherwise, the customer may feel uncomfortable.
You can present the opportunity and urgency by stating facts like, "This could be yours, but if you don't take it by (deadline), another customer will." Additionally, you can give them a discount that they can avail of for a limited time to help them decide and commit faster.
4. Anticipate objections
Don't let your customers take you aback with their questions or objections. One way you can prepare for any objections that may catch you off-guard during a sales pitch is by meeting with your sales team and presenting the pitch to them. You can then ask each member to think of any potential protest—preparing for such a situation prevents you from slowing down your sales and jeopardizing the deal entirely.
5. Watch your competition
It's impossible not to have any competition in business. To help you close deals faster, you need to know your competition—their strong and weak points. Research and observe what your competitors are doing. Find opportunities and take advantage of their weaknesses.
Identifying your strengths can also help you better position yourself when negotiating with a customer, leading to a quick close. Highlighting the differences and showcasing your strongpoints can make all the difference.
6. Know your product offerings
Naturally, the more thorough the understanding you have about your product and services, the more confident you can present yourself when you discuss it. Having an in-depth knowledge of your offerings allows you to deliver a genuine sales pitch, make honest conversations about it, and answer objections correspondingly.
Moreover, you'll be more enthusiastic when doing your sales pitch or interacting with a prospect. The better you articulate your knowledge in ways that make them understand its benefits, the more effective and faster you can close deals.
7. Keep it a win-win for both parties
Listening to your customers' pain points and demands and offering concessions like discounts is one way to whet their appetite. This also allows you to establish a healthy relationship composed of mutual respect and trust with your customer.
Of course, it wouldn't be a successful negotiation if you only provide and accept their demands without making one or two of your own. For a win-win sale, request for something in turn for concessions. For instance, you can ask for a prepayment or larger volumes in exchange for longer payment terms or reduced prices.
8. Acknowledge the rhythm of the salesperson-customer relationship
Like how there is an art in negotiation, there is also a rhythm to everything. If creating a sense of urgency to speed up the sales process did not work, it's best not to push it. More often than not, it is best to say nothing and give the customer some time to think about the offer carefully.
Know that silence is a powerful thing, and the rhythm of your relationship with your customer moves at its own pace. The silent pause may encourage the customer to fill the gap eventually. They may blurt out valuable information you can use to position your offer in a way that best appeals to them.
9. Follow-up regularly
Deals aren’t usually closed after just one meeting. If you want to speed things up a bit, maintain constant communication with the prospects. Being present and reachable in every stage of the funnel keeps you on top of their minds. If you fail to check on them, you risk getting stuck or worse, the prospect may lose interest in your offering.
A simple phone call or email can be enough to revive their interest and motivate them to seal the deal.
There is an art in closing deals
Negotiation is a fact of life, not just in the context of business. People negotiate when buying a house or a car, or when dealing with their partners about where to eat. The art of negotiation is all about looking at the big picture to reach a mutual agreement through dialogue while taking certain things, like emotion and mutual trust and respect, into consideration.
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