Close with Implementation
Implementation is the most widely overlooked aspect of sales negotiations. The irony is it’s also the most important.
At the end of the day, people buy the person and not the product. Once money exchanges hands, however, the customer may never speak to the same salesperson again. If there’s no cohesion between the sales team and those responsible for implementation, relationships will suffer, and deals will fall flat in the long run.
As a salesperson, you’re responsible for preparing the client for that internal transition and setting accurate expectations on both sides. If you let your counterpart get blindsided, it will have negative ripple effect throughout your organization.
In the final negotiation phase, discuss how implementation will look once you conclude the negotiation. To identify inaccuracies and address potential challenges before they become full-blown problems, ask “time travel” questions. These questions are named for their unique structure, which forces people to imagine future events.
If x happens, how should we handle it ... ?
When x happens, what should we be prepared to do ... ?
As you ask questions, don’t forget about the deal killers (DK). The DK is even more important than the decision maker (DM) because they have the power to squash a deal before it comes to fruition. Many DKs are also “silent”—they’re not present or vocal during the negotiation process.
It’s much easier to walk away from a vendor than to handle internal problems. Rather than waiting for a deal to dissolve internally, attempt to bring DKs to the negotiation table as you discuss implementation. To do so, ask calibrated “how” and “what” questions that require their team to communicate internally.
What is your process for coming together as a team to figure out how to move forward?
Finally, remember that strong, lucrative partnerships are built on strong, human connections. In other words, don’t use your understanding of your counterpart’s fears to force a deal or make threats. If you force a fit (or push a compromise they’re uncomfortable with), you’ll create an enemy and end up sabotaging the deal before it can be implemented.