The Art of Haggling – Part 2

dondIn Part 1 we started to explore the different strategies for helping you create a bargain with a customer or client that will help close the deal.

Top Tip#6: Be a patient bargain hunter!

All too often in our desire to close a deal, as marketers we can often miss vital clues along the way when we want to strike a bargain with a customer or client.

We can also rush through the bargaining phase as well, particularly in light of our own sales and marketing targets!

The danger is that we are making premature judgments about what the options are as well as taking stock of what the customer or client actually wants.

It pays to remember a vital point made in my latest book, The Art of Influencing and Selling that customers and clients tend to make purchasing decisions on an emotional rather than purely rational basis.

So if they’re committed to a particular point of view, it may take time to change that. As they say, patience is a virtue!

Top Tip #7: Have more than one bargain you can offer on the table

Customers and clients are complicated and don’t really come compartmentalised into easy to understand buying segments!

So stop thinking one solution or product is the only answer. It’s much more likely that there are a range of options that would be appropriate in such a situation. Remember people often like to make individual choices about what they will and won’t do. If you give them a range of options as opposed to one, off the shelf solution, they’re likely to be much more receptive and they’ll select priorities based on their own needs and requirements.

One way of achieving this is to collaborate with the customer or client. For example, the US t-shirt manufacturer Threadless is incredibly good at charging its customers a premium for privilege of collaborating in the design of its t-shirts.

Coming up with potential solution together is a very powerful way of making progress in the bargaining phase of a negotiation on the way to a sale.

Top Tip #8: When you get stuck, increase the size of the opportunities on offer

Let’s say the customer or client you want to sell to needs to make a purchase decision on a CRM marketing software product that’s going to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead of charging a higher licence fee for the use of the software, suggest a lower licence fee but an enhanced service agreement with more frequent updates and more tech support, including out of office hours that you will charge for at a higher premium.

This may be enough to help move the bargaining phase into the close of the deal as you demonstrate you’ve been listening to the customer or client’s underlying needs and this may create an opportunity to change the negotiation by enlarging its scope.

Top Tip #9: Don’t seek a bargain beneath your bottom line

Remember the Hoover fiasco where the company nearly went broke as a result of giving away free flights in return for customers buying its products?

Sometimes marketers will refer to ‘loss leaders’ as a way of securing more business, preferably more profitable business, on other sales of products and services.

In other circumstances, marketers will be paranoid that the competition shouldn’t sell to the customer or client and they become blinded as to what a worthwhile deal looks like. In such situations, beating the competition seems to become even more important than doing a deal that makes commercial sense.

That doesn’t mean you can’t adjust your bottom line if the circumstances of the deal change.

But be very careful about doing this.

Often the objective assessment you made before negotiations started will be a much more reliable guide to when you ought to stop than any judgment made once you’re stuck into the bargaining process.

Top Tip #10: Be prepared to take small steps rather than giant leaps in the bargaining process!

You may want to aim high and secure the best deal you can from the customer or client but as long as you’re above your bottom line, be prepared to consider settling for less if the marketing circumstances suggest that this is the only realistic outcome in getting to close the sale.

In summaryfollow these top ten bargaining tips and you’ll soon be on your way to closing that deal!

#1: Always keep something up your sleeve to improve your bargaining position

#2: Offer concessions of decreasing size as you continue to bargain

#3: Remember to take time out when pushing for a bargain

#4: Think carefully before giving away something for nothing as a bargaining tactic

#5: Lead with conditions, not concessions, when trying to strike a bargain

#6: Be a patient bargain hunter!

#7: Have more than one bargain you can offer on the table

#8: When you get stuck, increase the size of the opportunities on offer

#9: Don’t seek a bargain beneath your bottom line

#10: Be prepared to take small steps rather than giant leaps in the bargaining process!

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