When it comes to sales negotiation, it’s just as important to employ soft skills as it is to close the deal. There are so many different aspects of closing a sale and building a relationship with a client that it pays to take a closer look from time to time. Here are a few points to ponder that may just highlight some possible areas for improvement.
If a Customer Buys, Surely He/She is Happy?
This is the mistake that many businesses make, and it’s easy to see why. When you think of your skills in negotiating sales you probably only measure in terms of bottom line conversions. This is an understandable approach because after all, you’re in business to make money from your products and services. What you do need to consider, however, is whether the end justifies the means.
Just because a customer buys doesn’t mean they’ll be 100% happy when they get home. The manner in which you approached the selling process may well have put the customer off or perturbed them slightly. Granted, it wasn’t enough to put that specific customer off from buying altogether, but it is something we need to look at.
A great way of seeing whether your approach to negotiation works is by following up with customers a week later. Send a questionnaire asking pertinent questions to gauge satisfaction; you can use the feedback to determine the effectiveness of your negotiation strategy. To maximize response rates and encourage participation, offer the chance to win a gift or something of value.
What is Buyer Remorse?
When a customer buys something for a certain price and takes it home, you assume they’re leaving happy. There are however two possible alternative outcomes to entirely happy customers. Firstly, someone may have succumbed to the sales pitch and ultimately regretted making a purchase they didn’t intend to make. And secondly they may love the product, but see the way you negotiated the sale as over-zealous.
Clearly, both of these outcomes are not desirable, and they are avoidable with effective negotiation skills. The secret is to employ soft skills so that you can show there’s more to buying than finding the right price. Let’s take a look at a proven way that this is done in virtually every industry.
Avoid Buyer Remorse by Adding Value
Most sales negotiation training course will focus on allowing you to partner closing skills with softer people-oriented skills. That is what we mean by adding value through a personal touch. It’s a difficult skill to practice at first, but when you get it right, you’ll be amazed at what a difference soft skills can make.
Show your customers and clients that you care about their purchasing experience by listening to what they tell you. When they see that you’re taking in what they have to say, they’ll gain trust in you, and your products and services. If someone was selling you a service and only talked about was how good and cheap it was, then you’d have doubts. Why is this person so keen to sell to me? Are they having difficulty selling it to other people? Have they really listened to what I require?
These are precisely the kinds of questions that will naturally come to your customers if you push too hard.
Adopt a softer approach to negotiation, and there’s a whole host of benefits that you’ll start to see. You can do this by performing a role-play session with your sales team after work. This will allow your team to refine and practice their negotiation skills, while also putting your salespeople in the customer’s mindset. By seeing how your salespeople approach comes across when directed at each other, the team will quickly learn what works and how to improve their technique.
The Collaborative Approach
A hardcore competitive approach to sales will put off most customers and can even lose your long-term clients if you negotiate too competitively. People don’t want to be talked at or pressured. Customers want some basic/necessary information and background with which to make a decision. And crucially customers don’t want to be put on the spot as you try and force a sale. You may think that you’re working hard to make money, but you’re actually running the risk of alienating your customers and clients.
A collaborative approach can bear far more fruit than trying to attack each sale full on. That is because it shows you treat every client as an individual who has a specific set of needs. Your customers should never be made to feel like a potential source of new income due to the deployment of high-pressure tactics.
Show that you want to collaborate and work with the customer to find them what they want and you’ll actually be able to sell more. This doesn’t just apply to customers, but suppliers, vendors, and any number of other third parties that you need to do business with. By showing what you can add to the mix, you’ll find people are far more willing to meet you halfway and do business with you.
Why Soft Skills Matter
As well as the obvious benefits of being able to sell more to more people, soft skills also help your business in another key, way.
By helping to reduce buyer remorse, collaborative sales negotiation skills can significantly reduce the number of returned purchases and canceled services. These are both costly and time-consuming; which is no good when you’re working all the hours to grow your business. By keeping returns to an absolute minimum, soft skills allow you to focus on what you do best.
That means, not only do you have more time to focus on sales, you will spend significantly less time dealing with disgruntled customers. A clear benefit of sending your team on a sellers course that emphasizes the importance of soft skills to the long-term growth of your business.