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Sales Negotiation Skills
To be a great account executive, you don’t necessarily have to be a great negotiator. Dan Smith, Chief Learning Officer at Winning by Design, says that what you need to close more deals is to learn how to trade. Unlike other sales negotiation skills, trading isn’t about one side maneuvering against the other. It’s a sales negotiation process that allows both sides to get more of what they want. “If you are offering something of value to a customer,” he says, “then it is fair to ask them for something of value in return. That’s the essence of trading.”
When it comes to trading, it’s important that you know all of the levers that you have at your disposal. And you might have more than you realize. Price is the one that most account executives focus on because offering a discount is one of the key tactics in sales negotiations. But a discount isn’t always the most effective lever when it comes to trading. That’s because discounts often work in a counterintuitive way. Instead of making your solution seem more valuable, they can make the seller suspicious about your pricing. “If you offer your product at full price and then accept a 10% discount, why didn’t you just offer the 10% discount in the first place?” Smith asks. “When both sides feel a little resentful about the outcome, what should have been a win-win situation can feel more like a lose-lose.”
What other levers are available? Think about what’s most valuable to your company. One thing that should always be on the table is the length of the contract. Are you asking your customer to commit to a one or two-year contract? If the length of the contract is a big concern for the customer, they might be more flexible about other things. If you reduce the length of the contract, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask the customer to pay more. “Think about it as a price adjustment,” says Smith. “What are you willing to trade in order to get something of equal or great value for you and your customer? That is the win-win scenario that trading allows you to get, but typical negotiation leaves on the table.”
The payment schedule is equally important. Will the customer pay on a Net 30, Net 45, or Net 60 basis? Will there be an annual upfront payment, versus monthly or quarterly payments? And don’t forget things like marketing referrals. Written case studies that can be part of your marketing package, personal testimonials from their leadership team that can be displayed on your website, or comments about your product or service on review websites can be incredibly valuable. If they mean more business down the line, they might be worth trading for.
One tip that should be a part of every sales negotiation training program: Remember that a skilled buyer is going to want to negotiate each of these levers separately. For example, they may want to decide on price before they move onto contract and payment. Keep everything on the table until you have come to an agreement. That gives you the leverage to trade for the things you really want. “If it turns out to be a win-win for you and the customer,” says Smith, “that is how you form a long-lasting relationship.”
Many business experts put too much emphasis on learning the four stages of the negotiation process or mastering advanced negotiation training. But Smith says that the key to the most effective training for sales representatives — especially for SaaS companies — is understanding how to trade. It’s integral for the recurring revenue model.
Sales Negotiation Examples
When you think about an example of a negotiation between buyer and seller, you probably picture people haggling over price. The truth is that you should never frame the discussion as being primarily about price. If you get drawn into a conversation about the cost of your product, you are negotiating, not trading. “For most buyers, it’s not their first time at the rodeo,” says Smith. “They already know what it’s like to work with a seller. And when you offer them a discount, they wonder, ‘Why didn’t you just give me the lower price the first time?’”
Offering a discount changes the buyer-seller dynamic, and not always in your favor. If a customer says that your price is too high, make sure that you ask them exactly what they mean. Don’t always assume they are asking for you to reduce your rates. They could mean the overall cost of the contract or the amount you’re asking to be paid up front. Being too quick to propose a discount makes a customer doubt the value of your product. Smith says that one of his favorite sales negotiation examples involves holiday shopping. “Think about when a company doesn’t lower its price for its most popular product on Black Friday,” says Smith. “Their customers believe that this is the actual value of that product.”
Looking for negotiation examples in business? At Winning by Design, the leader in accelerating and optimizing recurring revenue for today’s companies, our approach is to teach you how to trade, not negotiate. The courses offered through our Revenue Academy include expert instructors, interactive training sessions, best-in-class frameworks, and detailed blueprints for every step along the sales journey. Our trainers provide you with real-life negotiation examples and offer sales roleplay scripts based on their years of experience in the field.
Importance of Negotiation Skills in Sales
At Winning by Design, open courses like Selling for Impact and Selling into Enterprise Accounts teach your account reps the importance of negotiation skills in sales. Led by trainers who are among the most respected names in the industry, we offer more than just general topics like the “10 advantages of negotiation” or “6 strategies for negotiating sales.” These classes offer skills that your team can begin using right away. Lizzie Harrington, a Channel Partner Manager at Asana, said she appreciated the chance to learn how to work more closely with customers. “Negotiation was the main thing for me,” she said. “I liked learning how to get everything on the table and understanding what the client really wants.”
It’s hard to ignore the importance of negotiation skills in business. That doesn’t just apply to your sales team. Because revenue teams work so closely together these days, negotiation skills are important for sales professionals across the board. That’s why all of our courses are built on the same sales methodology. That means that when you partner with Winning by Design, your entire Revenue Team — Sales, Sales Development, Business Development, Customer Success, and Revenue Management — will speak the same language.
Sales Negotiation Principles
When your business is based on recurring revenue, you want to maintain the best possible relationship with your customers. That’s why it’s so important for both sides to come away from the bargaining table feeling that they’ve gained something. Winning by Design’s wide range of open courses focus on the top sales negotiation principles in the industry today. We answer your team’s most important questions — Why is negotiation important in sales? What’s the difference between sales and negotiation? How is it possible to keep both sides happy in a negotiation? — along the way.
To help your team incorporate what they’ve learned about different types of sales negotiations into their daily routine, we have private courses and coaching sessions that can be tailored to your specific needs. All of this is supplemented by detailed blueprints on a wide range of topics that are available whenever your team needs a refresher. Simon Roberts, Senior Account Executive at Integrate, said that he had nothing but good things to say about the “clear, practical, applicable advice” he took back to his team. “Winning by Design’s approach to negotiation and decision-making criteria has really helped to close the larger deals,” he said. “It was immediately applicable to the modern SaaS customer.”
What Is Negotiation in Sales
In more than 600 reviews on G2, Winning by Design customers tell us they have been able to “level up” with our training. Dan Ennis, Customer Success Manager at Beekeeper, said that our courses helped him understand the role of negotiation in the sales process. He learned that out of all types of sales negotiation, trading was the most effective one for recurring revenue companies. “My first tendency is to turn to discounting, so the trade training was invaluable,” he said. “Winning by Design helped our team grow in actual negotiating and trading, not just discounting, with prospects and existing customers.”
What is negotiation in sales? Winning by Design’s courses help account reps learn how to trade more effectively. Johnathan Hampton, Director of Account Management at ACA Compliance Group, said nobody can beat Winning by Design when it comes to negotiation skills in sales. “I have realized many of the aspects of sales that we forget are highly important,” he said. “I have also learned some great tools for making everyone feel like they have won during the negotiation, without giving up money.”
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