When we talk about services industry, unless you are in a niche not explored or own an entire market, it’s hard to show trustworthy credentials and proofs that you should be the one chosen (showing you are better, you deliver in time, your quality is world class, etc). Almost everybody can say they are good at doing what you do, even if they have never done anything like that before. This affects sales directly in a market where the competition is huge like the US. Getting into scenarios where we have at least 3 competitors, and some times more than 10, is pretty common.
In 2018/2019 I’ve been successful in the biggest part of sales negotiations I got in. For those which we didn’t win, at least we figured in the final shortlist. They all have different stories like where we met people involved, the percentage of how much the negotiation was done physically or not, how many steps each one of them had, the client’s size, and many other things that influenced on the results.
The common thing for winning all of them, from what I’ve seen this far, for sure passes by how much you can show of your technical quality not using technical stuff. The one who signs the check usually is not someone technical, but wants to feel comfortable on choosing us. Making them comfortable someone appropriated is going to handle the situation is the key.
winning, a feeling, or even a testimonial, comes about why did we win each one
of them in specific, I mean the strongest reason in particular for each of them.
Below I listed some of those main reasons for some companies, described a bit the
scenario involved and shown how we prepared for some of them.
Speed and coherency in communications
and coherent on your communications is something decisive. If you go too slow, your
client will end up thinking they are just one more in your list. Some studies
say that your first answer must be within the first hour the client contacted
you. For the next steps it may vary a lot. Being fast brings the feeling that
you are dedicating energy to them. Beyond that, the speed with coherency
creates trust between the parties. By coherency here I mean saying NO when you
have to do. When you say no for something requested you are creating anchors of
truth (that you will have to proof they are true in the future), and also is
decreasing the strength of vendor-client aggressive relationship that some
partners try to proceed.
Dedication on understanding the scenario
yourself on understanding the scenario. For sure this is the step that will
give you inputs for everything mentioned here. If you don’t know the partner’s
scenario, you simply are not up to help them. Dedicate on understand what is
the business scenario, what you really have to deliver, but also spend at least
30% of your time understanding the consequences of each scenario. Why is that
company buying from you? Do they have a strategic move related? You will know
that and get more information to look even more trustworthy just knowing your
Be flexible. Give alternatives
For many of
the negotiations I got involved in, there was a mental clock running out of
time for something to be solved on the partner’s organization. If your client
is under pressure, he needs alternatives. Period. He needs something he can
realize is better for him so he will sleep comfortably at night. If you go for
a negotiation with one scenario of purchase, you are losing the opportunity of
being 2, 3 or even more alternatives inside one partner at a time. If you go
for the scenario with more than one alternative, you will show empathy with the
situation and also will show flexibility. You solution and your knowledge may
always be the best in world, but sometimes it’s more than what the partner
needs. He just needs to solve a problem, not a rocket.
The setup for the moment
my favorite part for every single negotiation. The moment at the round table.
The table must be round. For all of those I got involved and I remember while
writing this article, we wanted the long term approach. We didn’t want just to
have a deal and never show ourselves again. We want that deal to be successful,
because we want more deals and also referrals for more deals. A lot of
techniques can be applied for this moment, but it is a matter for a single
article and I will resume here in three steps:
– know everything. The scenario, the people involved, the implications
the table – prepare for that. Plan ahead each move and each question that might
arise at the table. Be prepared for a money negotiation;
the table – you went so far, let’s now miss the deal with small mistakes;
moment of contact you are allowed to use credentials. Credentials can be a lot
of things like telling a story about a project your company delivered, for how
long the company exists and handle challenging projects like the one you want
to talk, even cheap chat can show credentials for some unformal scenario. The
goal for a credential is to increase trust in something that will help the
negotiation move ahead. But the one who got my attention and was not in my
speech at the beginning of my journey was telling how many years I’ve been
working in my company. The perfect scenario happens if the customer ask you
that, because will show he’s interested. But you always can mention that to
leave one more strong anchor.
Decisive factors exposition
long-cycle sales like my reality (having more than 6 months between knowing a
company and signing a contract), it’s close to arrogance to think that what you
heard for the first time when you met your client as his business goals will
remain exactly the same 6 months later, when you are at the round table
negotiating. Whenever you have a chance, ask key questions to check if you are
delivering what the customer expects. Be straight on that. That’s simply the reason you are being hired.
Ask that and double check whenever you can to check if nothing has changed. At
the right time make it visual to create a mind-contract between you and who are
signing for your services. This is the only way for you and the partner have
the same feeling that you are going to deliver what they need and want.
these thoughts I gathered during 2018 and 2019 (this far) help you to be
successful in your upcoming negotiations. Use the space in comments to ask
questions if you want. Let’s talk!