Tips for Your Next NegotiationSome time ago I attended a panel in which several experienced magazine salespeople provided guidance to junior sellers concerning the art of negotiation. They offered a wealth of practical advice, and I'd like to pass along some highlights:
- The negotiation process begins as soon as you are given the account, and it never actually stops. All through the year, the salesperson needs to be shaping the client's views, getting them to think the way the seller wants them to think, building value.
- Doing homework helps establish credibility, helps get phone calls returned. E.g., in your research you may come upon relevant statements by the client's management that you can quote.
- Find out about the personalities of those you'll be negotiating with. E.g., ask people you work with what each player on the other side is like.
- Know as much as you can about what the competition is offering.
- When you meet with the client, ask the right questions. You need to uncover goals, opportunities (e.g., difficulties the client is having with their product), and priorities. You also need to discover any misconceptions or other impediments to getting an open-minded hearing.
- Back at the office, figure out what your currencies1 are and what is realistic, and then shoot high (but avoid sticker shock).
- Formulate a crisp statement about how you and your company can deliver value. Address the client's goals and the concerns you've uncovered. Make sure you differentiate yourself.
- Information is power. The person with the most information has the most leverage.
1 Currencies are elements of value available to you for exchange with the client. For example, a magazine's currencies include ad positioning and value-added items, such as access to useful information in the magazine's circulation database.