When to Negotiate

Negotiation on a sales deal should only be reserved for key customers, and only when not doing so would result in both sides losing out because a deal or relationship will otherwise fall apart. Or, for that very lucrative opportunity when the customer needs to feel they’ve made the right, and long-term, decision to go with a supplier that will work with them.

Ironically, the eventual success or failure of most negotiations is decided before both parties sit down at the table because successful negotiations depend on the amount of planning that both seller and customer invest, as well as their commitment to working toward a win-win outcome. In order to improve the chances for a win-win outcome, these four qualifying criteria must be met before any negotiation begins:

  • The salesperson or organization overtly states the price, deliverables, terms and conditions of the proposition.
  • The customer raises an objection that the salesperson or organization cannot overcome with benefits.
  • Both parties confirm that all objections have been raised and are on the negotiation table. 
  • Except for these differences, the customer indicates there is a conditional commitment to do business.

If any of the four criteria are not met, the salesperson or the customer will not be able to negotiate a win-win outcome. Someone is going to lose—period. It’s not unusual for salespeople to ignore or overlook the last of the above list of criteria. The salesperson needs to somehow state, “Except for the items that separate us, we have a deal?” That conditional commitment must be secured. Engaging in negotiation without it could prove detrimental to the sales effort.