Any company that seeks growth needs good negotiators on the team. In this last year as a business and sales consultant for partner agencies of Resultados Digitais, I followed closely several negotiations sites like Broker.cex.io, and some patterns – of success and failure – caught my attention.
Negotiation is a natural practice of the human being that we bring up in the professional context. Whether to negotiate prices with suppliers, partners, new contracts, adjustments, or staff salaries, some skills and processes are essential.
- Set goals
Your trading will be more efficient if you have well-defined goals. Bearing in mind a specific outcome – such as renegotiating a contract with a 15% increase – it will be easier to prepare for the client’s objections.
Therefore, preparation includes writing measurable goals for negotiation and the objectives must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Remember, some goals will be more important than others, both for you and the prospect. You must make a clear distinction between what you want and what you need, as well as understand what your future customer wants and what he needs. Thus, we differentiate primary and secondary objectives.
- Recognize the lose/lose while there is time
It is common to advance in some negotiations in which we generate high expectations, but when reaching the final stage, the budget is much lower than expected and necessary to make the project viable.
In this case, there was an initial non-alignment error regarding the available investment, even if indirectly. Therefore, it is essential to validate the BANT (budget, authority, need, and timing) at the beginning of the negotiation.
You can understand more deeply about the main practices for qualifying Leads in this post.
If we realize that the project will be unfeasible right from the start, there is time to align expectations, recognizing the lose/lose negotiation, and looking for ways out.
Otherwise, it will enter into an endless discussion for the price, where the perception of value and delivery of the project is undermined. In other words, the agency pays to work and the client has a low – or zero – result for the client.
- Balance flexibility vs. firmness
Start with the right attitude. On a sliding scale between firmness and flexibility, the best way to start a negotiation is to be flexible, but firm. This maximizes the opportunities for a mutually satisfactory conclusion, the win-win outcome.
- Identify the stakeholders and the decision-maker
In B2B negotiations, there is usually one person on each side of the negotiation responsible for discussing or closing the deal. However, in most cases, there will also be other people with the power to influence what the negotiator can offer and accept.
Each of them perceives the value in negotiation in different ways, so it is important to identify their roles and responsibilities, as well as particular interests.
Usually, the stakeholders in this context are:
Partner is interested in growing the business and making investments that bring returns. Highlight the project’s ROI projections and broad benefits, such as generating an asset – potential customer base – for the future.
Internal Marketing: Seeks how the project will meet the needs of customers and the company and can perceive your agency as a partner or threat. Partner in the sense of bringing a new solution and tool, as well as learning for the team. But they may also be afraid of being devalued. That is why it is important to emphasize the importance of an internal marketing team to support the agency’s strategy.
Investor: Like the partners, it aims to return the operation within a certain period. Focus on ROI projections, technology involved, and deadlines.
IT: Technical officers with great influence in the approval of the solution. Fundamental to bring the value generated by the proposal, constant updating of the technology involved, as well as security and reliability of the information.
Financial: Responsible for the management of financial resources and cash flow, it has as an objection to the terms and volume of payments. Therefore, making the payment method more flexible is important. It may be necessary to charge less at the beginning of the project and increase it in the second stage. It all depends on the client’s business model and the project schedule.
Commercial Director: Interested in sales and normally sees Inbound Marketing with good eyes, as it is a commercial strategy and works the sales funnel. You can have him as a positive influencer as he ties the agency’s goals to the department’s sales goals.
Spouse: Yes, in family businesses it is common for investment decisions to be made at home, literally. In this case, it is important to involve the spouse to understand the value generated in the project, as well as hear the objections face to face. Because if the choice is between investing in the company or holidays in Europe, we know that the risk of not closing a deal is high.
- Complete the negotiation
People usually postpone the conclusion because they feel they can get an even better deal by looking for other concessions. However, they can conclude soon so that they avoid taking further concessions from it. In general, it is in everyone’s interest to agree as soon as both parties reach a satisfactory result.
Knowing when to conclude is a difficult decision, but one that needs to be taken to achieve a successful outcome. Try to make a conclusive offer when you think that both parties have reached a satisfactory situation.
You can signal the conclusion by suggesting that you will abandon the negotiation if they do not accept an agreement close to what has already been decided.
You can also create the impression that you’ve reached your limit and that’s why you want to complete and ultimately keep your final offer.
Highlight how close your positions have been and congratulate everyone on that.