During one of my larger product deals, I experienced a negotiation situation that has remained in my memory for a long time. Once upon a time ...
... the appointment was shortly before Christmas, it was cold and wet outside, so we were dressed "storm-proof". We were made to wait in a very warm hallway. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. Then at some point the customer's negotiation manager came and said: "my boss can't come and I only have 15 minutes". Our timely inquiries regarding a review of the contractual terms were dismissed with reference to *the* deadline. Only to tell us: their terms and conditions must fit on 2 DINA4 pages, otherwise our lawyers won't look at it. Of course, it was also not allowed to simply change the font size, as a first spontaneous thought suggested. Actually, price and discount had already been pre-negotiated, but then came the final trick of the buyers: they tried to hold a carrot in front of our noses and negotiate corporate discounts right away, even though only part of the company actually wanted to take the first step.
Our sales manager actually wanted to go home after the first two tricks, and in retrospect I admit to myself that this would probably have been the better way. After all, the purchase was to take place in the calendar year on the part of the specialist department, so that a certain counter-pressure could have been built up here.
I myself feel that the above tricks are unfair, because you don't meet the supplier at eye level. This may also be one of the reasons why I have relied on sales professionals and tried to coach them from the background and develop negotiation tactics.
And that leads to the insights I have gained:
- The owner/manager should not (immediately) join in the negotiation, otherwise there is no possibility of escalation.
- Furthermore, it is advisable to draw up a "closing plan" together with the customer, in which all relevant milestones up to go-live are jointly defined. This then also includes the commercial and legal negotiations, as well as a realistic time schedule.
- If all this is not given, a clear NO can also be right at the bottom line. You should not sell at any price (if you can afford it - that is sometimes easier said than done). Often the real negotiation starts only after a NO.
Of course, that's not the end of it. From a current coaching I have collected some more topics, which I will write down in the next weeks and months. Good luck and never give up!