I read an interesting Twitter post that negotiation starts after selling stops. I respectfully disagreed and said that true sales professionals do them concurrently.
Selling is uncovering need, understanding value, and building urgency to make a buying decision. According to dictionary.com, negotiation is the “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.”
Let’s look at two scenarios. In one scenario, you stop selling and start negotiating which is discussing terms. This must mean that you are no longer going to mention or reflect on the prospect’s needs, or time frame of delivery, or the value that he mentioned during your selling time. You are strictly limited to discussing price, payment time frame, and delivery time frame. Any discussion of need, why it is needed, discovery of impact of various deliver schedules, or other people who might be involved are not allowed because you are done selling and are now negotiating.
In the other scenario, as you are working through your sales process, you are uncovering the value of solving the problem and the loss of value in not solving the problem at hand (the “C” part of INFOCUS™) then you move to what is in the way of solving the problem and what block or obstacle you must jointly solve or resolve before you can secure final commitment (the “U” and “S” of INFOCUS™). During this dialogue (which by definition means two people are talking), you have the prospect prioritize options and characterize implications of various delivery time frames. As you secure final commitment, you continue to discuss all of the above as you settle on the investment and delivery time frame which satisfies buyer and seller, which includes ongoing discussions of trade-off in the value the prospect sees until a final agreement is reached. No matter how well you do during “selling,” negotiation uncovers more value trade-offs which impact how much the prospect is willing to pay and, in many cases what level of service may be included after the sale.
Negotiation is about continuing the process of discovery of value and continuing to build urgency for a positive decision now, until a decision is consummated with whatever form of agreement or contract exists in your business. If that’s not sales, then I’m really confused.