Question of the Month: How Do I Avoid Being a Sales Pushover?

by Shannon F.

Does it seem like your customers always have an upper hand during negotiations? Maybe you give massive discounts in order to close the deal, or you end up throwing in a lot of free concessions to keep the customer happy. If that sounds like you, your bottom line will suffer if you don’t take control of your sales conversations early on. Here’s how to stay assertive:

Prepare for every sales conversation. Be well-versed in the value you can bring to the prospect. Researching their organization, doing your homework on competitors your prospect is considering, and having prepared responses for common objections is a good strategy for approaching a sales meeting with self-assurance. When you aren’t prepared, you may be apt to stumble, lose confidence, and make unplanned and ill-afforded concessions.

Know what obstacles you are likely to encounter. Be upfront with the prospect about the challenges you anticipate. For example, if you are taking on a project that comes with more complications or expenses than usual, be the first to bring these issues to light. Explain, “My competitors might not be aware of these extra costs, and that’s why their estimates are lower. But you can be sure they will bill you at a later date for the extra labor and equipment.”

Don’t answer too quickly. Your prospect asked for a discount or a freebie. Rather than reply hastily, tell your prospect you need to discuss the request with your manager and get back to them. This way, you have time to think the situation through and make a counter-offer.

Don’t worry so much about being liked. You don’t have to be your prospect’s best friend. It’s more important to get the deal you deserve and be compensated fairly for the service you provide. Say no if you have to, and explain your reasoning. Sure, you want your prospect to like you, but you also want to command respect. Once you tell yourself you are your prospect’s valued consultant, not his or her BFF, you’ll start closing deals based on reason instead of emotions.

It can feel better to say ‘yes’ than to say ‘no,’ at least temporarily, and it’s often easier to be a pushover than to stand your ground. Just remember that you deserve to get what you want out of the deal, too. If you offer a great product or service, have confidence in what you sell! In time, you’ll start to see a difference in your bottom line.

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