Negotiate relationships, not sales

I’ve been involved in my fair share of negotiations over the years, some ending in contracts, some not. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tricks that can help close deals, or at the very least leave both companies on good terms and the door open for future opportunities.

I’ve said many times that the most important thing to do in any negotiation is to listen to your prospect so you can truly understand their needs.  That is the only way to know how you can meet those needs—within their means.  You can’t do business with someone that doesn’t have a need, nor can you sell to someone who doesn’t have the means to buy.

Beyond that, here are a few other suggestions to amp up your negotiations:

  • View negotiations as the start of a relationship: Determine upfront what both parties want out of the relationship and make sure you can meet those expectations. As with any relationship, some give and take is required. Be open to compromise – on anything but your integrity.
  • Instill confidence and trust: Concentrate your negotiation efforts on building trust and confidence by putting the prospect’s best interests first, even if it means you don’t make an immediate deal. No one will work with someone they cannot trust. When trust is established, business will follow.
  • Be more than a seller: Let the prospect know that you value them as more than just a possible buyer. No one wants to feel that they’re just another cog in the deal-making machine. Make it clear that you’re interested in something more mutually beneficial than just a one-off sale by demonstrating that their success is as important to you as it is to them.

In short, take the time to cultivate a relationship rather than negotiate a sale. The long-term payoff of repeat business and referrals will be worth the short-term investment of time it takes to get there.

One thought on “Negotiate relationships, not sales”

  1. Well put, Kathleen — just by looking at negotiations from a slightly different perspective as you’ve suggested, sales people can reap the benefits of repeat business. The long-term payoffs of relationship marketing are certainly there. Thanks for your post, a great reminder in today’s trying times.

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