Do not confuse these two activities.

Effective negotiating is not a substitute for effective selling skills. Many salespeople believe that they need to be better negotiators, when what they really need is improved sales skills - prospecting, qualifying, presentation, disarming sales resistance and closing the sale.

Let's define the requirements for effective and successful selling:

1. Maintaining a positive outlook and enthusiastic and passionate demeanor.

2. Finding and identifying good prospects (those who have a need, desire and sense of urgency for a solution to a problem that your products and services will give them).

3. Positioning your products and services in the mind of the prospect as the best possible solution for their available resources.

4. Presenting the characteristics (features and customer benefits) of your products and services to the prospect in such a way that they easily see how these solutions will be achieved.

5. Disarming any unspoken sales objections during this process and then asking for the business. (That's called closing, folks - in case you are unfamiliar with the term.)

6. Servicing your clients to ensure repeat and referral business as well as satisfied customers.

7. Maintaining effective and accurate sales records.

Let's define negotiating. Negotiating begins where selling leaves off. It is finding those areas between the customer and the salesperson where there are differences or a need for compromise in:

  • Features (what they can or cannot live without)

  • Delivery terms (what they need and what you can give them)

  • Financial terms (again, what they need and what you can allow)

Negotiating is finding a way to reach a meeting point or common ground where you and your prospect can agree with each other's circumstances and still have a win/win relationship.

The close of the sale is the beginning of the client relationship, not the end of something. The process of negotiation is both parties giving up something so that you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Selling is about developing and maintaining positive ongoing relationships. Negotiating can be a one-time issue that only comes up in the beginning of a new relationship or when there are new ingredients added to the relationship puzzle - such as a new product introduction, new policies on the part of your organization or your client's, or when a competitor is knocking on your customer's door. Both skills - selling and negotiating - are necessary if you are to have any degree of sales success.

The fundamental problem for some salespeople is they believe that by developing better negotiation skills, they would make more sales. After observing hundreds of sales presentations, it is my belief that most of these salespeople didn't really know how to sell in the first place and learning to negotiate better was not their biggest problem. Remember, if two people want to do business together they won't let any of the details get in the way. However, if two people don't want to do business together, any detail will get in the way.