Negotiation is a key part of sales, in which the buyer and the seller discuss various terms - ideally before a deal is made. Both the buyer and the seller are looking for the deal to go in their favor, however, it may be that one side has to compromise more than the other.
If negotiations don’t go well or the salesperson isn’t well prepared then the deal may fall through. In order to make sure your employees have all the necessary skills to close deals, negotiation training should be regularly offered to your sales staff.
What is sales negotiation training?
Sales negotiation can be a stressful process but can be exceptionally rewarding not just for your business, but your employees too. Negotiation requires numerous skills, many of which are used at the same time, including empathy, communication, listening, and problem solving. Employees will also need a deep understanding of the product or service they’re selling and be able to answer questions quickly and in detail.
Sales negotiation teaches employees how to spot leads, make concessions and agree on terms using a variety of soft skills. Negotiating from the point of view of the seller can be challenging, and attempting to do so without full and regular training means employees are unlikely to be as successful as they otherwise might be. This will lead to less revenue for your business and you will regularly lose out to your competitors.
Why is negotiation important in sales?
Sales negotiations have been a part of business life for thousands of years, so having to barter and compromise is a daily part of life for many. In business, where profit margins can be tight and a good deal is more important than ever, neither party wants to feel like they’re on the bad side of a deal.
With negotiation, it’s important that both the buyer and the seller feel that the deal provides them with value. From the point of view of your business, you need to ensure you’re making as much money as possible while keeping expenses as low as possible.
While you’ll undoubtedly want to win business from your competitors, undercutting their prices isn’t always the most effective way to do that. Negotiation allows your salespeople to convey the value the buyer will get by choosing your product or service over your competitors. Negotiation courses provide your employees with the tools they need to showcase that value to the buyer.
What are key negotiation skills?
The key to negotiation is preparation. Without preparation, employees are setting themselves up for failure, and won’t have the knowledge or confidence that buyers are looking for. Part of that preparation is thorough and ongoing training. Below are some of the key skills employees should develop so they transition from salesperson to expert negotiator.
While preparation is important and will always pay off, things don’t always go to plan. For example, a second decision maker may be added to the meeting at the last minute, or the buyer’s needs may be different from what they initially stated. Flexibility will allow employees to adapt to change and find solutions to unexpected problems.
Negotiation involves excellent two-way communication. Not only should a salesperson be a confident speaker, but they also need to listen. If they don’t listen, then they’re not going to know what the buyer wants. Good listening involves active listening and asking questions, as well as showing empathy. Buyers want to be treated like people, not just a way of meeting a sales target.
Dealing with rejection
Any salesperson will be used to hearing the word “No”. However, how they deal with rejection is important, because not every no is long-term. This involves employees being emotionally intelligent enough to recognize the emotions in themselves as well as others, and not show signs of frustration or anger. Buyers won’t want to forge a longstanding professional relationship with a negotiator who can’t keep their cool.
Know when to accept defeat
Persistence can be an admirable trait, but so can knowing when enough is enough. Even the most experienced negotiators are told no, but it’s those with skill who know when to graciously back down. Accepting a deal that provides no value to the business can damage your profits and your reputation.
What are the five stages of negotiation?
There are five stages of negotiation and each play a part in the overall process. Each stage is done regardless of when or how negotiation is taking place, including in person, over the phone, or online. Your employees can learn about each stage and how to approach them in training courses.
Stage 1: Preparation
In which a salesperson will conduct research to discover the needs of the customer and what particular problem they’re looking for a solution for. As we’ve already highlighted, without preparation a salesperson is setting themselves up to fall.
Stage 2: Discussion
In the second stage, the buyer and seller will have a conversation to outline what each expects from the other. This allows each side to establish what they want and what is important to them.
Stage 3: Negotiation
This stage will contain all of the actual negotiations. As such, there will be a lot of back and forth - which may take time as there can be a number of decision-makers involved. The seller must constantly refer back to the information collated in the first and second stages to ensure they’re offering the buyer value relating to what they want and need.
Stage 4: Agreement
At the end of the negotiations, both parties will come to an agreement, whether it’s to proceed with the deal or walk away. Hopefully, from your business’s point of view, the outcome is a positive one and will be mutually beneficial. This stage will conclude with both parties signing a legal document that will reflect what was agreed upon during the negotiation phase.
Stage 5: Action
The final stage involves each party delivering on their half of the agreement, whether that be providing the product or service or settling invoices.
What should be avoided during a negotiation?
Negotiation can be a long, drawn out, and sometimes painful process. We’ve already covered how emotional intelligence is important when negotiating, and there are several things to avoid which can cause a negotiation to not go your way:
There are more pitfalls to avoid which are far more nuanced and covered in online training courses.
How can you improve your sales negotiation skills?
There are two ways in which employees can improve their sales negotiation skills: through practice or training.
Practice is needed to shape salespeople into effective negotiators, however, learning what works and what doesn’t without proper training will lead to a lot of rejection - rejection your business can’t afford.
So, while inexperienced (and even some experienced) sales staff will have to continue practicing their craft, they should do so while also undertaking regular training.
Training can be completed in a classroom setting, either within your organization or externally. In-person sales negotiation training courses can be a great way to learn, but they can also be time-consuming and expensive.
Training can also be completed digitally through eLearning. Online courses are affordable and flexible, so staff can learn as and when they have the capacity. eLearning is also a great tool for delivering development and refresher training to existing professionals.
What are the best online sales negotiation courses?
Negotiation-specific courses are great resources for new and experienced sales negotiators, including:
Courses that provide development for sales-related soft skills include:
Ready to enroll your teams in negotiation training courses?
AtGo1, we have a number of eLearning courses that can transform your salespeople into confident negotiators. For more information on how Go1 can aid your organization with online learning,book a demo with our team today.