Negotiate More Deals When You Start with the End in Mind
"Begin with the End in Mind"
Over 35 years ago, Steven Covey identified this as one of the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. First create a vision of where you want to end up, then develop the steps needed to get there.
“Begin with the End in Mind” is as relevant when negotiating a large, complex sales deal as it is for a one-time transaction. Careful research and negotiation planning is the only way to a) know what a good deal looks like, and b) avoid giving away more than you intended.
Skilled negotiators do their homework. First they identify the outcome they would like to achieve in each meeting (E.g. settling key issues or getting a signed agreement). This allows the customer and negotiator to align behind a common objective and determine a pathway for achieving it.
Effective planning also includes identifying creative options and multiple ways that anticipate and satisfy the important customer issues. Skilled negotiators define their best case, target, and bottom line trades in advance of the meeting. Planning helps negotiators clarify what they can trade and at what point they’re willing to walk away from the deal.
Careful preparation allows the negotiator to cover four key topics that “set the stage” for the negotiation conversation.
1) Value Proposition
The negotiator articulates the Value Proposition: The extent of the customer’s problem/need and the value of a solution that addresses that need. This is an opportunity to highlight how your solution provides quantifiable benefits that address their unique business needs. This is why they want to work with you.
2) Collaboration Statement
The Collaboration Statements reinforces the ways in which both parties stand to benefit from a negotiated solution – despite potential differences. Establishing a collaborative environment encourages customers to discuss those differences and seek collaborative solutions. The negotiator can reiterate this Collaborate Statement when the negotiation gets difficult or adversarial.
3) Potential Issues
The skilled negotiator is up front about Potential Issues, clarifying what needs to be addressed in order to achieve a successfully negotiated deal. Being transparent about the key issues prevents surprises and avoids “nibbling” where additional items are added on at the end of the negotiation.
4) Proposed Approach and Customer Response
Finally, skilled negotiators clearly articulate their proposed approach and the steps for resolving the negotiable issues. This allows the customer to respond and agree, or suggest an alternative approach. Either way, the process moves forward along a clearly articulated path. Proposing an approach and asking for the customer to respond helps everyone involved to align what’s expected to happen in the meeting. This helps eliminate surprises on both sides later in the negotiation.
The collaborative opening statement might sound something like this:
We’re excited to work with you to deliver this program that addresses your specific business requirements of A, B, and C. We believe this program will provide significant benefits of X and Y as we’ve discussed, within a budget of Z.
We both have an important, shared commitment to getting this program launched by the end of the quarter. It will provide sales and profit benefits for both organizations, and we both want your customers to see this as a great program.
My objective for this meeting is to find a way to resolve your pricing and schedule concerns by discussing several options we’ve come up with. Are there any other issues we should discuss, and does that approach make sense to you?
By beginning with the end in mind, and appropriately using these effective negoitation techniques, the skilled negotiator sets the stage for a collaborative, mutually beneficial deal that satisfies the interests of both parties.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.