Accepting “NO” As Being A Negotiating Position
Negotiation determines both the type of business relationship you will have with a customer and the level of satisfaction with that arrangement. Each of us negotiate on a regular basis, whether we realize it or not. You negotiate with your employees regarding when and how they will complete a task. You negotiate with suppliers over payment and delivery terms. You negotiate with family members about their activities and behavior. How effectively you negotiate with your customers, however, is one area that can make a huge difference in your business growth. It pays to do it well.
Instead of viewing the word “no” as the end of negotiations, see it as an opportunity to outline alternatives. You know that your potential customer does not want a particular set of services or packages, but that does not mean that he or she will not consider an alternative. If you know that there is a genuine interest in working with you, stand firm in suggesting other ways that you and your prospective client may partner. Offer choices, packages, incentives. For those potential customers who have difficulty thinking beyond the options presented to them, develop new ways of selling your products or services.
People think differently and communicate differently. Depending on how they listen, you will get a yes or no out of them. As a good negotiator you must be able to evaluate each individual’s level of understanding and where they feel most comfortable in the communication process.
The next step is being able to meet them where they are. Determine your bottom line up front. Your bottom line are those critical points of interest you have for your business, like why you started your business in the first place. It is important to always remember you, too, are shopping for the right client, one that is able to allow you to meet your bottom line. Your bottom line includes being well-paid for your work and not having to worry about money. Is this relationship profitable to your current business or future growth and expansion?
With those issues outlined, negotiate with clients on the services you will perform, let them see that your product or service is critical to their business. This helps to prevent price from being the focal point of the negotiation. Once they understand the benefits, show them how they can afford doing business with you by presenting different payment structures that do not put you at a loss.
The value your potential customer places on the dollar will determine what payment structure they select. Therefore, you must understand that evaluation and delivery is everything, because it takes the same amount of effort to sell a $30 item as it does a $100 item. For example, if you are a consultant who bills on an hourly basis, evaluate whether a flat-fee arrangement would work for certain projects. Provide a discount for clients who commit to a guaranteed number of hours over a six-month or 12-month period. Some clients prefer flexibility in their billing arrangements and others like knowing exactly what a particular service will cost them. Being flexible enough to work with both will open new business opportunities.
Make written agreements. Once you think you have clearly spelled out what you will be providing for an agreed-upon fee, write everything down for both parties to sign. Written agreements help to clarify issues and to ensure that you don’t become responsible for activities you never agreed to do. In effect, you are creating a reference document that will help prevent misunderstanding down the road. Your professionalism and thoroughness will impress clients and set the tone for the relationship you will have. Negotiating these guidelines will help to create a win-win relationship that will be valuable for both you and your customers.