When training a sales team, plenty of emphasis is typically placed on prospecting, qualifying and closing sales. Training in the art of negotiation is often neglected, but it shouldn’t be. Poor negotiation skills can lead to lost sales and shrinking profit margins.
Here are nine lessons every staffing sales person should learn:
Predefine your limits. Don’t go into the negotiation without knowing what the acceptable outcomes are for you and your firm. Negotiations can quickly get out of hand with no parameters in mind.
Give nonmonetary concessions. Pricing is not the only thing on the table. Consider alternatives such as offering additional services for the same cost rather than dropping your price. Focus on increasing value rather than lowering costs.
Get something in return. If you do make a concession, expect the customer to reciprocate. Ask for a longer contract period, for example, or a shot at their next RFQ.
Let the customer speak first. Don’t tip your hand as to what you are willing to do or you’ll give away more than you need to in many cases. Find out their expectations before revealing what you’re willing to do.
Don’t give a range. If you tell a customer you can provide entry-level temporaries for $16 to $18 dollars per hour, they will hear $16. You’ll never get to $18.
Compromise is not always the best solution. Sometimes you simply must hold the line. If your customer is focused on nothing but price, you haven’t sold your value.
Negotiate with the right person. Don’t find out too late that you have conducted negotiations with a person who has no power. You’ll need to negotiate again with the actual decision maker, but this time you’ll be starting from the agreement reached with the previous contact.
Don’t get emotional. Negotiation is part of business. It’s not a personal attack or an insult to your firm. Savvy business people are wise to pay the lowest possible price for their services. Their priority is their bottom line.
Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes there is no deal to be made. Go in knowing you will walk away if you must. Otherwise, you are negotiating from a place of weakness.
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