There is an erroneous view that salespeople, like artists and musicians, are born, not made. Selling can be learned, improved, and enhanced just like any other business activity. First, you need to understand selling’s three elements:
Selling is a process moving through certain stages if the best results are to be achieved. First, you need to listen to the customers to learn what they want to achieve from buying your product or service; then you should demonstrate how you can meet their needs.
The next stage is handling questions or objections; a good sign as it shows that the customer is sufficiently interested to engage. Finally comes ‘closing the sale’. This is little more than asking for the order with a degree of subtlety.
Selling requires planning in that you need to keep records and information on customers and potential customers so you know when they might be ready to buy or reorder.
Selling is a skill that can be learned and enhanced by training and practice, as shown in the case study above.
Like selling, negotiating, of which it usually forms a part, is as much a science as an art. There are a few immutable rules, easily understood but invariably difficult to execute:
Aim high at the outset. Unless you can find the point of resistance, you can’t find the outer limits of your negotiating range.
You must be prepared to walk away from a deal and make that evident if you are to have any negotiating leverage. To achieve this you must have prepared plans B and C ready to execute if the terms you want can’t be achieved. For example, when negotiating to buy out a competitor, have other businesses in the frame too; or have plans to enter that market without them.
Search out a range of variables to negotiate other than price. Delivery date, payment terms, quantities, currencies, shared future profits, know-how swaps are just a handful of areas rich in negotiating possibilities.
Never give a concession away. Anything given for nothing is seen as being worth nothing. Instead, trade concessions and always put the highest value possible on the concession. ‘We will pay 30 percent upfront rather than the 20 percent you’re asking for (again for the seller) if you bring the price down to $/L/€1.2m rather than the $/L/€1.3m you’re asking’ (again for the buyer) is the place to start if you hope to hit a $/L/€1.25m final price.
Talk as little as possible. The less you say the less you can give away.
Once you have put a proposition on the table, shut up. The first to blink is the loser.
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