A Strategy to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

To achieve a win-win position when negotiating with a client, you have to:

a) Sell your own position in the context of what drives your client;


b) Treat the negotiation as a key element of the sales process – NOT simply as an afterthought.

When delivering sales training, we teach our delegates a methodology called Selling from the Left®.

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This system of selling really helps to put you in a great position when it comes to negotiating. The model is a five-stage process that works from the left to the right.

The first three stages represent the client’s world (on the left) while the final two stages represent your own position (on the right), as follows:

1. Your Opponent’s Drivers for Change:

The first stage to the model is agreeing with the client the pressures which they face to deliver a solution. Here it really helps if these are external pressures (i.e. outside his or her control). This is crucial to gaining control of the process and is a critical element of your negotiation toolkit.

For instance, if you’re selling a compliance solution to enable your client to respond to a new piece of legislation, you should reach an agreement with them that the legislation will happen and must be responded to.

2. Implications and Costs of Failure to Respond:

The second stage is to consider the implications and ‘pain-points’ that the client’s external pressures will cause. You need to discuss the implications (and costs) of failing to respond to the pressures for change in order to create urgency on your client’s behalf.

With a forthcoming change to compliance legislation, for example, failure to respond could have huge implications on your opposite number. You should agree with them what the implications of failure to comply with the new legislation will be (in terms of cost) before setting out your offer and your own commercial position.

3. Desire and Need for Improvement:

The third stage represents the needs and desires of the client for improvement (and the priorities of those needs and desires) in the context of the external pressures facing them and the ‘pain-points’ they are experiencing.

If a new piece of legislation is threatening to make your client non-compliant, you need to agree not only the implications of failure to respond, but also the desired benefits of the solution which you are proposing.

4. Your Unique Value-Add:

If you have unique added value and a solution that can make your customer compliant, you can estimate the value of your solution to the customer and the pressure on them to select, buy and implement the solution in time for the new legislation becoming active.

This represents the fourth stage of Selling from the Left®: always know your value and always know what pressure is on the client to act – including the pain of not responding to that pressure in good time.

5. Your Desired Outcome or Position:

Finally, as a fifth stage, you should introduce your own desired outcome or position. If you introduce your own position earlier or you start by setting out your own demands, you may completely negate all the sales efforts that have gone before and the whole negotiation process may simply become a head-butting exercise. It is likely to become “what you want” versus “what they want” and can quickly descend into a battle of egos.

Remember, you have to present your case from the perspective of the other person and Sell from the Left®. It really does work in any sales or negotiating situation!

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase

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