My mantra for the paradigm shift in sales: Be helpful!
Give, give and give – and then ask is not only a book title and a recommendation from the social media selling area, but an imperative that fits perfectly with ethical and value-based sales. Give, give and give – for example helpful articles, information, contacts, your expertise to support your prospect’s decision making. Give gladly, even without immediate return. This pays off in the medium term.
However, when negotiating prices for your offer, don’t give without taking!
Why? Giving discounts without asking for something in return from the customer is unethical, because it violates the ethical guidelines of respect and responsibility.
So price negotiations are the moment when you take something: On the one hand, a remuneration for your products or services, on the other hand, a reward for your concession on the price.
When a potential customer, who has made an informal decision in favor of you and your solution, asks you to accommodate him on price, it is first important to understand what the background for this request is. Have you worked well together and understood what the value of your service is to the customer? If the value is clear and yet the request for a price reduction comes, there may be different reasons and, accordingly, different possible solutions.
Here are some examples.
The customer had not planned a budget at all, or some budget shifts happened. Here, for example, you could look together for creative ways to draw on budgets from other departments or to create co-financing.
The customer has liquidity requirements and may not pay in this fiscal year or quarter. You can offer to postpone payment of the invoice until the next fiscal year.
If anyhow less has to be paid, then please never offer a discount without getting something in return. Here are a few examples:
- “Increase”. Means you give a discount for the customer buying more volume at once or signing a multi-year order or contract with you. This will save you future acquisition costs.
- “Downsize”. Means, for a lower price the customer gets less performance. For example, you can remove certain components from your offer, deliver more slowly, include less service, etc. The lower costs for the service or delivery compensate for the price reduction.
- “Reference discount”. Means you negotiate a written agreement to publish a case study with you, make a social media post, or organize a joint event. Of course, the prerequisite is that the client is satisfied. The more discount the customer wants, the more activities on the part of the client to promote you. Please get this in writing, because a contact person is quickly gone.
These first three points are usually negotiated (with) the specialist department. Then there are the buyers of large companies, who have to negotiate a discount, because their variable salary component is measured against it. This small discount always works:
“Immediately and upfront”, means to buy right away and pay everything in advance immediately and get a discount for it, as this will reduce the signing risk for you and increase your liquidity.
More on this topic in the module “Negotiating and closing” of the Sales4Good Implementation Programme.