Negotiations key to securing value for both buyer and seller

The other day I couldn’t get a head massage at my barber’s because the masseuse wasn’t in. So I asked for the refund equivalent. I laughed at his witty response: “to compensate, next time you’ll get a longer massage.”And just like that he had retained the sale in full. The issue here isn’t about denying customers a refund they genuinely deserve. No. That’s plain good customer service and should be exalted. What I’m on about is acquiescing to a price reduction, terrified of negotiating, all for fear of losing a sale.

Experienced buyers are known to force concessions with every aspect of the transaction. A 2% off here and a 3.5% off there may look small but cumulatively will considerably change the package. Learning to negotiate therefore becomes part of the stock-in-trade for the salesperson- like my barber promising me a longer massage (I’m still tickled by this). I once read somewhere that price is what you pay, but value is what you get. And value is a perception. When a prospect is asking for a price reduction he most probably does not perceive its value. This is one reason why prospects negotiate. The salesperson is not to be dragged down with the price but to rise up to the occasion and demonstrate the value equivalent.

How? As the column has averred, selling is an emotional exercise camouflaged in logic. And emotion cannot be grasped-just like perception. However, emotion (an experience) can be regenerated, and in that instant, vividly relieved. Like my getting tickled every time I think about the “longer massage”, or, suddenly feeling deeply saddened when one remembers the loss of a loved one a decade ago. In practice therefore, if the prospect wants to buy a new computer and you establish from him that it’s because the one he has is slow, don’t stop at slow-that’s logic and relative. Instead, let him describe his latest computer nightmare. As he relives the frustration (emotion) every time his computer drags (or crashes) you will vividly see the pain on his face and hear it in his voice. NOW he appreciates value-and his need to negotiate the price that will take away this pain will most likely fade away.

Negotiations also happen because it is in our culture. Dukawallas will pre-empt negotiations (bargaining) by stating, “The price of the tire is Kes. 10,000 but I give you discount, so you pay only Kes.8,500”; or, the stall owner, “bei ni ya kuongea (price is negotiable).” This knowledge should energize the salesperson to approach negotiating from a point of strength-not fear.

Yet another reason to be confident in negotiations is because prospects smell insecurity in the salesperson. And because Sunday school moments are rare in the field, like a predator smelling the prey’s fear, prospect’s circle in and lunge for the jugular. Value is only valued is the valuer values it. Highly valuing your own value is the beginning of successfully handling negotiations. It also enables you have the strength to do the ultimate in negotiations-walk way because your lower threshold has been breached.

Admittedly, there are instances where the salesperson stoops to conquer- like accepting an alteration in the package today, which is obviously hindering more profitable business tomorrow. And that is fine-after all, even this is a form of negotiation.

The whole purpose of negotiating isn’t to win. No. That’s myopic. Negotiations must aim for both the seller and buyer coming out feeling that value was derived.


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