How To Negotiate Sales (Plus 13 Skills for Success)

Updated February 27, 2023

Three people seated at a table with a laptop for a discussion.

Sales negotiation is the interaction between a salesperson and a customer that may influence the customer's decisions concerning a sale. This is an important job process for salespeople, both individually and as part of a company's sales and marketing team. Learning more about sales negotiation can help you improve your sales skills and potentially return more profits.

In this article, we define sales negotiation and discuss its importance, explain how to negotiate a sale in three steps and explore 13 skills that can help you succeed when negotiating.

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What is a sales negotiation?

Sales negotiation is a conversation between a customer and a salesperson that helps determine whether the customer purchases a product. Salespeople use sales negotiation to understand:

  • Their customer

  • The customer's situation

  • The likelihood of a sale

  • Whether debate or information can help them reach this decision

During this process, the sales representative can influence the decision of a customer.

Related: Negotiating Deals: 25 Strategies To Help You Close

Why is sales negotiation important in business?

Sales negotiation is important in business for many reasons, including:

  • Increasing profits: Sales negotiation involves discussing discounts and offers that the salesperson can give the customer, so the resulting sales may increase profits for the business even outside of initial sales.

  • Improving company reputation: During sales negotiation, salespeople may improve the reputation of their business by informing customers of alternatives, select discounts and other various options for their purchasing needs. If a salesperson is friendly and helpful, the customer may also share this positive experience with peers. 

  • Showing product value: Sales negotiations provide salespeople the opportunity to explain items to customers, including their prices, origin and quality grade. These details can help the customer determine the value of the items they may be debating purchasing.

Related: How To Close a Sale: 16 Strategies and Examples

How to negotiate sales

If you want to understand how to better negotiate sales, consider some of the following steps:

1. Explain how the product can help the customer

When beginning to negotiate with a customer, one of the first steps is to explain the product and its benefits. Consider including many details in your explanation. This can excite the customer and make them eager to buy the product. It might also demonstrate your authority on the subject, establishing you as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information.

Related: How To Negotiate at Every Stage of Your Career

2. Convert demands into needs

When debating with a customer about an item, an effective way to negotiate toward a sale is to convert the demand for a product into a need for a customer. This involves seeing the advantages of products and aligning them with what the customer wants and needs. For example, if a customer is looking for a ring in a jewelry store, a salesperson could turn the demand for a durable ring into a need for a ring that has a lifetime guarantee. 

3. Lead pricing negotiations

Once you've established the value of the product, consider making the first price suggestion. Leading the pricing negotiation helps re-establish your authority and can help you begin the negotiations closer to your ideal price point. For example, if you state the price first, the customer may debate that set price rather than suggesting one themselves.

Related: 12 Important Negotiation Skills (With Definition and Examples)

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13 sales negotiation skills

Sales negotiators typically have many skills, including:

1. Communication

Salespeople often have excellent communication skills that they can use to present and explain different sales deals to customers. These skills can help them effectively explain the difference between similar items and present the advantages of their product. They can also articulate how advantageous a price may be before and after applying discounts.

Related: What Is Effective Communication? (With Benefits and Tips)

2. Interpersonal skills

Salespeople understand how to communicate with customers on a social and professional level. They know how to be cordial and inviting in their words, appearance, impression and wardrobe. These professionals talk with customers daily, so it's important they understand how to relate to and learn more about the customer.

Interpersonal Skills

3. Multitasking

While talking to a customer, a salesperson may complete other tasks like adding a total, pricing an item or organizing stock. Multitasking abilities help salespeople remain productive in all areas so that they can benefit the customer and work toward closing a sale at the same time. This strategy can help salespeople use their time and resources efficiently.

Read more: Multitasking Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Organization

Organization tactics help salespeople handle customers both more effectively and quickly. These skills may help them multitask effectively while maintaining a calm persona with the customer. Organization can also make it possible to retrieve pricing information or items for the customer quickly as each becomes necessary. 

5. Attention to detail

Attention to detail can help salespeople understand their customers and learn how best to appeal to them when negotiating. While negotiating, focus on hints and small comments that might help you learn about the customer, who they are, what they want to buy, why they're buying it and how much they can spend. If the customer notices how closely you're paying attention to what they say, they may feel like you're communicating effectively, which is essential to a good relationship. 

Read more: Attention to Detail: Definition and Examples

6. Empathy

Salespeople who can feel empathy for potential customers can understand the situation from their point of view. In negotiations, this may help you discover what may be withholding a customer from making a purchase. This could be the price of the item, their personal schedule or other economic and social factors.

By using empathy to understand these challenges may help you connect with the prospect and switch tactics to best suit their situation. For example, if the price of an item is preventing a customer from proceeding with a purchase, a discount may alter their opinion.

7. Decision-making

Sales professionals may make quick and confident decisions during negotiations. For example, they may decide to improve the value of the product if they sense the customer is unsure whether to make the purchase. They may also make decisions about price, guarantees, discounts or when to end a negotiation. 

Read more: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples

8. Patience

If your customer cannot make a purchase now or seems hesitant, patience can help a sales professional turn the situation into an opportunity. For example, you can offer them follow-up options, ensuring it's easy for them to return in the future. Once they do more research, they may return and complete the sale. 

9. Flexibility

Flexibility is important because it can help salespeople change tactics to suit the situation. For example, if you can't convince a customer to make a purchase, seeking alternatives that may work for them might result in a sale.

Alternatives can help solve customer problems related to price, quality and availability. Giving information about alternatives effectively may cause the customer to consider the offer or a follow-up appointment to learn more.

Related: How To Be Flexible at Work (With Tips and Examples)

10. Preparation

Understanding how to prepare for negotiation is an important sales negotiation skill. Before meeting with a customer, you may research them to learn more about their values. If you're negotiating with a business representative, you can visit the company website to learn about recent projects and the company's mission. Consider using this knowledge to craft a convincing sales pitch before you meet for the negation. 

11. Listening

Listening is an important skill because it can help sales professionals form a personal relationship with potential customers. This may help the customer feel like they can trust the salesperson. Listening can also help the sales professional better understand the customer's questions and address them throughout the negotiation process. 

Related: 11 Active Listening Skills To Practice (With Examples)

12. Persistence

Understanding how to be persistent can help a salesperson turn an uncertain prospect into a regular customer. This process might involve spending time establishing a relationship with the individual before entering negotiations. During negotiations, persistence can help a sales professional advocate tirelessly for their ideal price. 

13. Professionalism

Appearing professional may help a salesperson earn a potential customer's respect. A respectful attitude is also an important element of professionalism. Therefore, it may be helpful to be polite at all times during the negotiation.

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