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Keeping Your Edge in Sales Negotiations

Mike Detmer outlines some ways to recognize the red flags of emotional regression, and how to counteract them to better negotiate sales.

For those of you who haven’t guessed from reading my previous articles, I’m an old-school sales guy. You know the drill: build rapport, discover needs, present solutions, overcome objections, and close the sale. So when it came time to replace my upstairs HVAC system, I expected to be handled that way by Bill, the VP of sales for the company that has been servicing my system for years.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. Bill did fine until it came to my question about price. When asked why his price was 35 percent higher than his competitor, Bill exploded in an emotional tirade and in doing so ultimately lost my trust, which cost him the job. Had Bill handled the question in a cool, calm, and methodical fashion, I suspect he would have overcome the price objection with ease, made the sale, and retained my business. Instead, Bill’s emotions got the better of him and paved the way for his competitive rival to take the job.

There are a few things that you can do to prevent from falling into the dull-saw trap.

Through this process, I felt bad for Bill, who I suspect was once a razor blade that has become a dull saw. Like many residential integrators he’s an experienced sales veteran who knows the business of system sales and installation. Yet the constant competitive pressure from rivals has taken a toll on his ability to overcome objections and close sales.

Without sounding too much like a DirecTV advertisement, don’t end up like Bill; here are a few things that you can do to prevent from falling into the dull-saw trap:

1) Stay the Course

Don’t let your emotions take you on a detour. Recognize the red flags of emotional regression so you can stay positive and attentive to your client’s questions–not a slave to your emotions. Had Bill said in a calm voice, “I understand that you may have a lower bid from my competitor. While I can’t attest to that bid, I’m happy to go through it line by line with you to determine the differences in it verses my quote,” he would have likely won the job.

Hint: The largest red flag to emotional regression is the feeling of anger.

2) Quantify Differences

Assuming that Bill would have kept his anger in check and asked to review the competitive bid, he could have easily compared apples to apples and demonstrated how his bid was actually more competitive than it appeared. His competitor’s bid was placed with a caveat that an actual site survey could change the cost. Had Bill discovered this fact instead of blowing up, he could have narrowed the price delta to less than 10 percent, down from the original 35 percent difference, and made the sale.

Hint: Always examine the facts when hit with price objections.

3) Keep a Positive Attitude

I’ve heard it said that life is 10 percent what happens, and 90 percent how you react to it. You’re running a business and it’s going to be tough every day. Find ways to vent the pressure and get fresh ideas to help keep your attitude strong. You don’t need me for this part. Just ask Siri or Google, “How do I keep a positive attitude,” and you’ll be deluged with articles, videos, and offers showing you the many ways to do so. Personally I’ve found that smiling, keeping active, and interacting with people I admire works wonders.

Hint: When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you and that generates sales chemistry.

Top performers in every walk of like keep their saws sharp so things are more likely to go their way. How about you?