The Lost Art of Negotiation

The Lost Art of Negotiation

I wanted to talk to you about a lost topic, a lost art, something that once this thing called the Internet came about, a lot of us in business have, well, we’ve forgotten about.

I was reminded by it from a book which I came across while I was cleaning out some old boxes the other day. This is one from mine back in the ’80s called “The Outstanding Negotiator”. And it left me thinking, you know, really, with this Internet and this Internet sales thing, what’s happened to that lost art of negotiation? Do we still negotiate the deal or do we just drop something online and hope that people are going to buy it? Well, yes, we do that. But we’ve got to remember, a lot of the sale takes place well before it actually happens right there on the Internet.

Now, if you were to use something like Google Analytics and look at their assisted conversions tracking for your website, assuming of course, you’re getting enough actual sales through your e-commerce platform, talking about people who sell online at the moment. Then you would notice that very few, much likely, people come to your website, buy, and then go again from there. Unless, of course, you’ve just got one of those one page, you know, I sell this ship or do I go away kind of deal. All right? That’s not what I’m talking about today, where you send bucket loads of affiliate referral traffic and just hope to God that people buy. No, I’m talking a business where you’ve got a number of different products and your building relationships with your customers, not just trying to flog stuff to them.


You see, a lot of the sales process takes place well before they make that final buying decision, and this is where negotiation can come into it because truly what you’re looking to do is negotiate with them that you are the better business provider, that you are the company that they want to deal with. Most people think negotiation, they think price. Oh, I got to cut my prices. No, I’m not talking about cutting your prices.

I’m talking about negotiating with your customers that you can become their preferred supplier for their product needs, whatever that might be that you sell, that you provide. Do you see what I mean by that? The art of negotiation really is the art of communication, and that’s what I’m talking about. That’s starting to get lost online. I see it all the time. We’re cutting out conversations down to these tiny little pictures, these tiny little phrases through Twitter or through Facebook, or wherever. But really, the communication that we must have with our customers is, to whatever level they desire. Which means, if they want to have a longer conversation then we must engage with them in that way.

business_people_near_deskA lot of people get it backwards. They say, “We’ve got to get our customers to engage with us.” No, we must engage with them; and that’s the thing that most people are failing to see these days. Classic example. I signed up recently for a new service through my contact management system, my CRM, and I went with one of these cloud based solutions. I’ll talk about that in a different video coming up shortly. But I signed up for the free trial, just a free trial. I thought I’ll give it a go before I make the commitment. Within an hour, I had an email-and this is interesting, not an automatic email, it took an hour to come through-saying, “Hi, Paul. My name is…, and I’m going to give you a phone call.” Fifteen minutes later, guess what? I got a phone call. I got a phone call from a real live person, because this was a package that could have been worth to them as a business anywhere from say $100 a year to $1000 a year.

A lot of people get it backwards. They say, “We’ve got to get our customers to engage with us.” No, we must engage with them!

Tell me something, $1000 a year, would that be worth a phone call? $100 purchase, would that be worth a phone call? They were looking to engage with me. Interesting. And so, consequently, I was impressed. Here’s the thing, when you’re looking to negotiate with your customers, you’re looking to, as I heard someone say once, “break the blur”. Get them out of their space and get them into yours just for that moment. I was interested. Wow, you’re a real person and you speak my language. That was also important to me as well; keep that in mind.

However, your sales person cared enough about me as a potential customer to make a call. Now I am one of their customers and I chose a package which suited me just perfectly. Here’s the thing, it wasn’t the most expensive package, yet they treated me just the same way as I’m sure they would have someone who’d gone for the top end system. I didn’t need all the bells and whistles. But they negotiated with me for, one, my interest, for two, a little bit of my time, three, for my business. They didn’t negotiate the price.

They simply said, “Yes, we’ve got the best and we can provide it with you.”

They sold me on their service. They negotiated for what? Think about it. What is it that they were negotiating about for that they wanted from me?

They wanted me to accept them as my customer, not their competition. They wanted me to dedicate myself to them, and I did, and I will now, I’m sure, for quite some time. So I want you to think about this, the lost art of negotiation really is the lost art of communication with our customers. Don’t get caught up by the Internet. Don’t just think, “Hey, got a new inquiry. Better send an email.”

Worse yet, an automated email. Oh my God. You don’t want to just do that. If you can, pick up the phone. From time to time, surprise your customers. Send them a real letter. Send them a card at Christmas, not a freaking email, a card, a phone call to your important customers or your prospective customers. And I guarantee that you will have their support, their heart, their dedication for your business over your competition. That’s winning in the art of negotiation. Fantastic, I’ll talk to you again real soon.


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