As the COVID-19 pandemic forces companies to confront shrinking demand, higher levels of unused inventory, and increased uncertainty, impacted businesses will undoubtedly turn to their suppliers for cost savings while also seeking guarantees of supply assurance. Sales teams, meanwhile, will be under pressure to work collaboratively with customers to address their very real problems while simultaneously protecting their own revenue and margins.
The current environment raises the stakes in customer negotiations and increases the risk that negotiations will become adversarial. So what can sales teams do to lower the temperature?
"Perhaps the most fundamental lesson when negotiating in high-stakes, high-risk ("extreme") situations is that in the very context where one feels the most pressure...to act fast and emphatically to stake out an unwavering negotiating position, it is best to do neither," write Jonathan Hughes, Ben Siddall, and David Chapnick in "'Extreme' Negotiations with Customers," a new article in Velocity, the magazine of the Strategic Account Management Association. "Control and power can most effectively be asserted by slowing down the pace of the negotiation, diligently seeking an unbiased understanding of one's counterparts...and actively leading them into a more collaborative negotiation process."
Key negotiation strategies discussed in the article include:
- Broaden your field of vision, question assumptions, and re-think objectives.
- Uncover underlying motivations and invite collaboration.
- Focus on fairness to persuade and build buy-in.
- Actively build relationships built on mutual trust and respect.
- Focus on shaping the negotiation process, not just trying to control the outcome.
and equipped to engage successfully in such inherently challenging negotiations."