Do you consider negotiation as a delicate and difficult stage? Can’t find a win-win deal? Are you struggling to find a common agreement? Imagine, an interview that goes perfectly, from introductions to negotiations. Discover our guide to commercial negotiation and become a formidable interlocutor!
Commercial negotiation, definition
Au sommaire :
Commercial negotiation takes place when the parties do not find a common agreement directly. It is therefore a dialogue that deals with everyone’s expectations, fears, constraints and interests. Through several negotiation techniques , negotiators sometimes agree on a deal. Otherwise, the negotiation results in no collaboration.
There are 2 types of trade negotiations:
- cooperative negotiation. Based on mutual interest, it helps to elevate both parties and serve their interests.
- Competitive negotiation. As the name suggests, each side is in opposition and neither is willing to compromise.
What are good business negotiation practices?
1. Prepare for your appointment
Preparation is an important step, because it is partly decisive for the future. In commercial negotiation, nothing is left to chance and it is absolutely necessary to think upstream that they are the most relevant strategies.
To carry out the negotiation phase, ask yourself what the company’s objectives, expectations and needs are. Try to determine any blockages that may prevent the signing of the contract.
The preparation phase allows b2b salespeople to be more efficient and more comfortable during interviews. Indeed, they know what are the points to address, the pains on which to press and the solutions to propose. In other words, salespeople become real negotiators, who conclude win-win deals!
It is then a question of gathering the relevant data concerning your interlocutor and the state of his company.
2. Make a good impression
Here it is all about making a good impression on your client when making contact or making an appointment. Of course, this does not help you directly in your commercial negotiation, however, making a good impression helps to win the sympathy of your interlocutor. He is then more inclined to listen to your arguments and consider them.
To make a good impression, take care of your presentation, be punctual and warm! Indeed, being on time and wearing a nice suit is not everything! In reality, your attitude is much more important and it is this that determines the rest of your exchanges!
In general, speaking with a smiling and composed person is more appreciable than with someone cold and closed. Thus, put all the chances on your side from the start!
3. Quickly identify the objectives of your interlocutor
The preparation phase allows you to understand what your customer’s objective is that motivates him to buy your product. Generally, when making contact and then during the interview, this information is confirmed.
In commercial negotiation, you must always think about the needs of your target. It is not a question of applying pressure using this, but rather that both parties find a compromise that serves this objective.
You can’t excel in negotiation if you don’t know all of your customer’s buying motivations! So be careful, because some are often implicit!
To identify them, practicing active listening is an effective technique. It consists of reformulating certain sentences of your client to show him that you understand his objections. Asking open-ended questions is also a good idea. Do not hesitate to deepen a subject by asking a question.
For example, your client tells you that he is interested in your training, but is concerned that this service is too complex for his team. Then ask him “Would it suit you if I personally commit to accompany you in your training paths?” »
If he answers yes, it means that the fear evoked is founded. If he answers no, it is surely that there is a fear, an implicit blockage. Find out more by asking, for example, “What could make you change your mind?” In other words, you ask him if he expects a particular service or offer.
Finally, he admits to you that he wants to invest more in software rather than in training, because he believes that the ROI is more advantageous. He remains interested, but he needs to talk to his manager about it, as it changes their plan.
4. Anticipate objections
Negotiation is a stage of the sale based on dialogue. Both sides disagree and they try to defend their point of view in order to serve their respective goals. It’s about making the right arguments at the right time and finding an agreement halfway between the interests of the sellers and those of the customers.
Precisely, anticipating the blocking points makes it possible to know which sales techniques and which explanations are the most efficient. The goal, of course, is not to be caught off guard and to propose solutions adapted to each objection.
5. Stay in control of your emotions
In commercial negotiations where everyone expresses their disagreements, tension can quickly get involved in the conversation… A word that upsets, an expression taken out of context and it is anger that wins you over. However, if you lose control and express your emotions, the contract is lost!
So, when you negotiate, stay in control and don’t take too much to heart the comments and criticisms of the opposite team. Knowing how to take a step back and remain calm are the basics of commercial negotiation.
6. Set a specific goal
Before you go to the interview, determine what your objectives are to achieve and your minimum threshold not to be crossed. That is to say, at best, what is the goal to aim for and, at worst, what is the minimum limit not to cross. The goal is not to accept a deal that is too unfavorable to you.
For example, you want to sell your software, your articles, for 1000 €. However, you know that your customer may ask for a discount. You then set your minimum limit at €800. Plus, you offer free tool training, as long as he signs off within the next 72 hours.
Establishing criteria, interests to be served and respected, allows you not to lose track and to be in a position of strength. Indeed, if your interlocutor feels that you are not arrested, that you do not have a minimum threshold, he can offer you a destabilizing deal.
Even when looking to enter into a cooperative btob negotiation, still make sure that you are benefiting from the signed agreement.
In negotiation, you always have to know precisely what you want and what you cannot accept!
7. Address all decision-makers
Generally, when you meet your client, it is the project manager, the decision-maker who is responsible for deciding whether this client meeting marks the beginning of your collaboration. However, there are sometimes other influential people who give their opinion on your services, your activity. So, before starting negotiations, make sure that all decision makers (if possible) are present.
This is important, because if all the decision-makers cannot ask their questions and issue blocking points, it is impossible for you to reassure them. It is not always easy to know if your interlocutor is the only person to decide. However, it is possible to ask it subtly, for example, when the customer expresses a concern: “Do you mean that other people in your company express their opinion on the question? or “Do other people in the company share your opinion?” »
If the negotiations are coming to an end and your client seems undecided because he needs to consult with his team, try to get a name, phone number or email address of the other decision-making members. Keep them informed of your interview, fears and solutions discussed, etc. Then, offer them, for example, to agree on a physical or remote meeting, in order to have their own opinion on the question.
8. Use your sales skills
We saw it in point 5, remaining in control of oneself and one’s emotions is essential in commercial negotiation. However, there are other skills and human qualities that are expected of salespeople and negotiators.
Being attentive and listening to your client is absolutely essential to show him the interest you have in him, but also to hear his real needs, fears, expectations, blockages, etc. So be careful not to monopolize the floor and to create a fair dialogue.
Having a sense of contact is of course required and especially when it comes to signing your first contract with this client! Be open, warm and friendly to seduce and make your client want to collaborate with you! Remember, in btob, it’s about working together for the long term!
Remember to be empathetic, especially when the prospect is expressing constraints and fears. Understand his doubts, reassure him and look for solutions that meet his expectations.
Finally, a salesperson must be organized! Imagine, your client is waiting for you, he has arranged to be available to receive you and you are not there! Salespeople manage a dense customer portfolio and between face-to-face and telephone meetings and prospecting , they must keep their agenda up to date so as not to be overwhelmed by events.
9. Focus on cooperative business negotiation
There are 2 types of negotiation: competitive or cooperative. In btob, salespeople are not just looking to sell their articles, services or training to companies. Indeed, they know that their customers want above all to find a trusted partner, with whom they maintain cordial and benevolent relations.
So, always assume that the negotiation is cooperative. Remember to serve your interests of course, but also those of your client. The goal is not to maintain a balance of power and put him in a delicate position, but rather to understand his objection, his questions and not to force his hand.
Respect his words and bet on benevolence. Finding a win-win deal is the best way to lay a solid foundation and satisfy each party.
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Commercial negotiation, to conclude
- Prepare your appointment, that is to say, find out about your interlocutor, his company, the decision-makers, the financial state, etc.
- Make a good impression, it’s important for the future! Take care of your appearance and be punctual! In addition, advocate benevolence and be smiling!
- Quickly identifying your client’s objectives is essential. Be careful, they can be explicit and implicit!
- Anticipating any objections allows you to be totally ready on D-Day and not be caught off guard.
- Stay in control of your emotions, no matter how the interview turns out and the attitude of the prospect.
- Set yourself a specific goal to achieve and a minimum threshold. You always have to know precisely what you want and what you cannot accept!
- Addressing all decision-makers is essential! If some are absent when you negotiate, at least try to contact them by email or phone and get an interview.
- Use your skills and human qualities such as listening, kindness and empathy. Prefer cooperative rather than competitive negotiation!
Commercial negotiation, to summarize in 4 questions
What are the best practices in commercial negotiation?
In commercial negotiation there are several points to respect to conclude the sale:
- Prepare your appointment and collect information about your client and his company.
- Make a good impression by being punctual, by looking after your appearance and by being smiling and warm. Get off to a good start from the meeting!
- Quickly determine your prospect’s explicit and implicit goals.
- Anticipate possible objections in order to prepare a solid and relevant argument.
- Stay in control of yourself and your emotions, even if your interlocutor is determined to destabilize you and test your self-control.
- Set yourself a goal and don’t lose sight of it! For example, a minimum tariff, specific terms of agreement, etc.
- Make sure you convince the right people! Indeed, your client is not necessarily the one who makes the decisions within the company! Ideally, all decision makers should be present for you to allay their fears.
- Use your commercial qualities (soft skills) to be a formidable negotiator. Mastering sales techniques, being empathetic and listening is essential for all good negotiators.
What are the types of commercial negotiations?
There are 2 categories of commercial negotiation:
- Cooperative: the seller and the customer seek together an agreement to collaborate in serving their interests. Here, the 2 companies are not in competition, but together seek a solution for a win-win deal. Collaboration is based on trust. In btob, cooperative negotiation is the best option to find customers.
- Competitive: everyone defends their own interests without taking into consideration those of the opposing party. This type of negotiation does not make it possible to build a long-term collaboration.
What are the negotiation strategies?
Several negotiation techniques are possible. Here are a few :
- Grant exceptional treatment, a favor to the prospect;
- Place people at the center of attention and play the emotional card;
- Opt for the BATNA method and plan a plan B;
- Propose the sale in lot, in package.
How to make a good commercial negotiation?
To succeed in your commercial negotiation:
- Prepare for your interview and anticipate possible objections;
- Quickly identify the real needs and objectives of your prospect;
- Set yourself an objective to reach and a minimum threshold not to cross;
- Stay in control of your emotions and call on your human qualities;
- Always favor cooperative rather than competitive negotiation!