I work in a field that makes people feel dirty. I’m not a cleaner, or a sanitation worker or a plumber. For some, it’s worse. I’m a Salesperson.
As a sales trainer and a professional negotiator, I educate people on why these professions don’t have to feel ‘gross’. If you can harness some expertise in these fields, then anything you want or need is at your fingertips: pay rises, discounts, longer or shorter deadlines, increased margins, attracting better staff and even a tidier teenager’s room.
What’s the difference?
Selling and negotiating are often mistaken for being the same activity.
Selling is mainly transactional, and people associate it with the simplicity of an exchange of goods or services for money.
Negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching agreement. Negotiating zeros-in on the differences of opinion between individuals and aims to conclude with gaining agreement by both parties on these new terms.
When to sell and when to negotiate
In the business world, we are most often selling when it comes to making the transaction, or as many call it “the pointy end of the stick”. The part where you’ll find yourself selling, is most likely when you are doing all the talking, most often about your product or service.
Where you’ll find yourself negotiating, are the times in the conversation where you are discussing details. Note the key word there is discussing. Remember, the core definition of a negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching agreement. Many of the parts in between are where negotiating occurs. These are elements such as: delivery details, SLA’s (service level agreements), price, payment terms or product specs.
How to negotiate on everyday items
Earlier this year, I was in the market for some house tiling. After selecting the chosen tiler, I mentioned to my husband that I was going to “do my thing” (which is code for “I’m going to work my negotiation magic”) and I told him the amount I was going to counter-offer to the tiler. The Hubs actually laughed and scoffed that there was no way the tiler would drop his price that low.
Two days later, I showed The Hubs the email I received from the tiler, who had (happily) accepted the exact counter-offer amount which was a 30% drop in price.
What are you fearful of?
What’s the worst that can happen? Your counter-offer isn’t accepted? On a scale of death and burnt toast, this is pretty much right on the burnt toast end. No one dies if your negotiation doesn’t go as planned. You can just accept the original terms and jog on.
The rejection isn’t going to kill you and any embarrassment you might feel should not be given more than a second’s thought.
Who do your loyalties lie with – your business or someone else’s business? As they are likely with you, you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Imagine if it worked!
How can I negotiate?
It starts by asking the question and trying to negotiate. Any thought of “I could never ask for a discount”, or “I’d be so embarrassed if they said no” doesn’t hold any weight.
If you are negotiating respectfully (rather than being hostile), you’re much more likely to be rewarded with success.
I was at a winery last weekend and paid $10 for a pathetically small tasting paddle of honey wines. Upon purchasing 2 of the bottles, I asked “are you open to discounting the bottles by the price of the tasting?” Although they replied in the negative, I paid for the bottles and moved on with my day, happily. No one died.
The next time you are considering better terms for your business, try asking for them clearly with some of the following wording:
- What flexible options do you have for XYZ?
- May I respectfully ask if there is any room to move on that price?
- It’s not a question of value, it’s simply that my budget won’t allow that much. Might you be open to accepting $XX?
If you can learn to sell and negotiate in your everyday life, you’ll blow yourself away with the amount of influence that you never even knew you had.