Tired of 2nd Place Proposals? Learn to Negotiate When Selling by Phone

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“I’m losing deals to competitors that undercut my proposal and beat my best offer. What can I do?”

OK well, there are lots of assumptions to be made here in order to answer this effectively. So let’s cover some basics such as 1) you are speaking with a decision-maker who 2) has agreed they like and want your solution to their problem but 3) also have alternative options and so 4) they are in the “buying ready mood” but are looking for what they perceive as the “best deal” and want to see if you can offer anything better. Sound about right?

OK, good. So, with that covered, let me guess… you sent them a revised proposal after they asked for a better deal and then they said they’d get back to you. But now the only thing you hear are crickets, yes?

You try and follow-up with them but they’re always in meetings. You leave voicemail messages but don’t get any callbacks. You send an email (or two or three) but no response. And then when you do finally get ahold of them, they tell you they went with another vendor, correct?

How to Avoid this Trap

(Ed. Note: This is assuming the same solution can be bought from multiple VAR’s such as an accounting software etc. If however, the solutions being offered are two different products/services but similar in category only, this situation would be handled differently)

Negotiating a Win / Win

OK so if this is happening to you it means you are missing a step in your negotiation phase. Meaning, you need to do something other than going from “give us a better price” to you saying, “OK” just to have them select another vendor.

Although there are several ways to prevent this from happening, below is one way that has worked well for me.

What you want to do is:

  1. Confirm price is the only thing standing in the way of moving forward;
  2. Confirm what the next steps would be once a price is given;
  3. Get commitment they will move forward with you if the deal is good enough BEFORE YOU even entertain sweetening the offer (notice I didn’t say, “lowering your price”?)

Example of how the call could go:

Prospect: Got your original proposal and it looks good but we have another vendor we are considering and so we are looking for the company that offers the best price. Send me your best offer.

Salesperson: So other than price, is there anything else stopping you from moving forward with us?

Prospect: No

Salesperson: OK. Assume for a moment we are able to make an offer you’re happy with… what happens next?

PIVOTAL POINT

If the prospect says something to the effect that we will compare it to the other bid and make a final decision, DO NOT OFFER ANYTHING MORE THAN YOU HAVE ALREADY GIVEN. If you do, in most situations you are simply handing the deal over to your competition.

Get a Number

Many times, you can simply close the deal right here and now – again, assuming you 1) are speaking with the decision-maker, 2) they’ve agreed they like and want your solution to their problem and 3) have committed to doing business with you now if the price/offer is right – by asking the prospect:

“Where do I have to be to earn your business right now?”

Don’t Negotiate With Yourself

Many times the prospect will respond with “well, I don’t know, what’s your best offer?” after you’ve already given them the original price and they came asking for a better offer. Don’t fall for this. Remind them you already gave them an offer and they are asking for a better one. So ask them where you need to be in order to do business now. And then SHUT UP and wait for them to answer.

The Number

Now when they come back with a number, in all likelihood it will be one that isn’t acceptable (and they probably know it but they want to make sure they aren’t overpaying) No matter what number they give you, get a commitment.

“Ok so if we can do this for $ X AMOUNT, you’re ready to order now?”

If they say YES, you are now in a position to negotiate and close the deal.

In the future, I’ll share with you how to negotiate a low-ball offer but for now, at least you’ll know how to get in position to close the deal now and avoid giving your competitor the last crack at stealing it from you.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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