Regardless of how reasonable or competitive you believe your pricing is, you'll likely run into some customers who want a better deal. It can be tempting to play hardball, or even walk away, but if you can negotiate a win-win solution, you'll have the chance to build a long-lasting customer relationship.
Here are some tips for negotiating to keep both you and your customer happy.
Focus on how you can meet their needs in the long run, and you can establish a level of trust that may help shape future negotiations with them and other customers.
1. Ask questions.
If you spend time asking questions and listening, you can get to the heart of what your customer is really looking for. Perhaps they're comparing your price to another that isn't an apples-to-apples scenario, and a detailed explanation of your business's unique value can help resolve things. Perhaps they feel they've been ripped off before, and they're just looking to make sure that doesn't happen again. Find out their true priorities and you may uncover how you can provide something they really care about and build a lasting relationship.
2. Look beyond price.
If your customers aren't opening up about their needs, consider all the ways you can add value that don't involve price, and be prepared to highlight these as options. Discussing these value-added propositions may trigger interest on the customer's side that tells you what they're really looking for. Explaining how you can add value beyond price can be key to reaching a satisfying compromise.
3. Make smart concessions.
Consider offering things your customer values highly that have a low incremental cost for your business. Perhaps there is an added service, feature, or future discount you can provide that will make the customer feel they are getting more value. Maybe you can expedite a timeline for them, which can help them feel heard and appreciated. Perhaps something in the payment schedule can be adjusted. If your customer is in negotiation mode, they probably want to walk away with something, so thinking of something to divvy up can help you.
4. Be transparent.
Conversations are more productive when both sides are open. Make sure to discuss both their needs and yours. For example, why is your price different than a competitor's? Explain what the additional cost covers. Better quality materials or ingredients? Tell them about it. Make sure they understand you want to satisfy them and make them happy, but you also have a business to maintain.
5. Keep talking.
Be open to a longer-term back-and-forth discussion. Show you're committed to finding a way to satisfy the customer. The customer will see you value the relationship and really are trying to find a solution that suits them. That may be what they were looking for all along.
6. Prioritize the relationship.
Show a level of care that goes beyond the immediate deal. Focus on how you can meet their needs in the long run, and you can establish a level of trust that may help shape future negotiations with them and other customers. Whether it's a follow-up or future work you know they will need, if the customer knows you care about them and stand by your products or services, you could earn a lifelong customer by putting in the effort now.
A negotiation doesn't have to be a power struggle. It's a chance to listen to customers, explain your business's value, and show and earn their respect. It can help you develop a solid relationship with your customers – one they'll want to tell others about.
A version of this article was originally published on February 24, 2017.
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