Sales and marketing professionals know that it can take time, experience and years of practice to hone their persuasion skills. Indeed, many people in the industry never stop learning and refining their craft. But, what can you do to accelerate this journey to marketing success? Here, we sharee five top tips for mastering the art of negotiation when attempting to close a sale.
Preparation is key
It can be tempting to dive straight in to a sales pitch, but before you reach out to your target audience, pause and take some time to prepare. Assess the situation and understand the particular needs of the person you are talking to. For example, if you are trying to win back an old client, remind yourself how the relationship ended. If they stopped doing business with you, be willing to understand what concerns and objections they had. Once you have the lie of the land, create an action plan and outline any potential objections and how you intend to overcome them. Do a trial run of your strategy with a colleague, who can share best practice and ideas, then learn it off by heart and practice until you know the contents without needing any notes.
Hosting a discovery session can be a great way to determine how your sales and marketing strategy can meet the needs of your target audience. It provides a great opportunity to ask as many questions as possible to find out what their needs are and how your product or service can address them. If you are unable to host a virtual or face-to-face meeting to do this, send some questions via email. Prompts to discover the biggest challenges and opportunities facing their business today can refine their thinking and help you to create a sound structure for the next stage of your sales and marketing process. Think about how you can word these differently to capture their attention, for example, you might want to ask “if we could help solve one business challenge for you, what would that be and why?”. An open question that may elicit answers about the specific issues or objectives the person is currently facing. It can serve as a starting point for a detailed discussion on how your product or service can address those challenges or help achieve those goals.
Listen and learn
Following the 80:20 rule of listening for 80% of the time and talking for 20% will ensure you are understanding your prospect’s concerns and actively listening to them. While listening, aim to empathise, build rapport and trust by identifying common ground and creating a collaborative atmosphere. You can also use the listening time to consider ways to adapt your strategy to respond to their challenges and concerns.
Present a solution
Once you have listened to their concerns and you are ready for your sales pitch, start by presenting the new features that post a direct solution to their main concerns to ensure your audience is engaged from the start. You should also highlight all the benefits of your product or service and explain how each feature directly solves the issues that they told you they face as a business. Remember all that you have learned during the research and listening phase and put it into this step of your negotiations. Be succinct and efficient, showing that you have understood their needs and that you can help them.
Close the deal
It can be tempting to leave your negotiations open-ended and avoid asking for the order, but presenting them with a next step to close the deal can be helpful for both parties. You could ask directly whether they are ready to close, or soften the approach by asking how they feel about moving forward and whether they have any timescales in mind. Alternatively, embrace the silence and wait for them to end the conversation and outline next steps. This can take practice, but allowing them to fill the silence allows them to process the conversation and respond to your offer. By following these five steps, learning from your mistakes and practising time and again, you will be able to hone your approach to sales and marketing and master the art of negotiation.
- Shaine Gravett is head of sales at Sopro, a B2B sales engagement platform run by outreach experts.