Sales Negotiation Lessons From The Egyptians…..
In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most business owners struggle when it comes to negotiations (and in particular negotiating over their price)……and how some simple negotiation lessons can be learned from the Egyptians……
Whenever I’m working with business owners, something I often come across is a lack of confidence or comfort with the more critical parts of the sales process. Examples might be ‘objection handling’, ‘closing’ or in particular ‘negotiating’.
Particularly as the market is now getting tougher, those critical areas of the sales process are becoming even more critical – yet many business owners lack the attitude, skills and knowledge to be successful in those areas, particularly when it comes to negotiation.
That could be because they’re not used to negotiation, it could be that they’re naive to the tricks that the other side can play, or it could be that they’re desperate for the order and will cave in to any demand the other side will make. Or it could be a combination of any or all of those reasons! Whatever the reason, without some element of knowledge of the negotiation process, the business owner is going to continue to struggle.
So How Do The Egyptians Come Into This?…..
Over Christmas, I was working out in Egypt with a well-known, multi-national IT company. On the last afternoon of the course, we went into Cairo Old Town (my Egyptian friends will know I have the Arabic pronunciation well practiced, but I’ll use the English version here so everyone else understands what I’m on about!).
Cairo Old Town is well known for being a kind of market, a trading ‘zone’ where there are many small, independently owned shops where you can buy local goods, gifts and souvenirs.
The main business in the area is tourism, so therefore the shopkeepers are pretty well practiced at getting tourists into the shop, and trying to sell everything in the shop to them (or maybe it just feels like that) at the highest price possible!
Watching these guys operate is like watching masters at work! It’s fascinating. They are ‘old hands’ at bartering, trading and negotiating – why? Because they do it every day! They know what their potential buyers are going to say often before it comes out of their mouths! Everything they say and do is well practiced and designed to give them the upper hand in the negotiation.
So How Does That Relate To You?
Well, because the Egyptian traders are negotiating all day, every day, they are used to the things that happen in a negotiation. The things that the other side will do to try and gain the upper hand. That certain things you say can make….or break …..a deal.
If you’re not used to negotiating, yet the person you’re sat in front of negotiates far more often than you do (and has probably been on courses do learn how to do it well), doesn’t it stand to reason that you’re going to be at a disadvantage? That they’re more likely to get their outcomes than you are to get yours?
So what lessons can we learn from the Egyptians that will help us in our negotiations?
Andy’s Lesson No 1 – Be Prepared For The Negotiation
How prepared do you think those Egyptian traders were for their negotiations? And how prepared are you for yours?
Your first answer is probably something like ‘fairly prepared’. Think again! Has there ever been a time when someone has said to you ‘how much is that?’ or ‘how much do you charge?’ and you’ve not handled that with confidence and certainty?
How often have you mumbled a price? Or worse still, gone in at a lower price than you’d want to charge, and justified it to yourself as you ‘need’ the business?
You’ve just found yourself in the middle of a price negotiation…….unprepared!
Andy’s Lesson No 2 – Think About What You Want
This is essential before going into any negotiation. How often do you find yourself in the middle of a negotiation without any idea of what you actually want from it? I don’t mean what you’d ‘like’ to have, I mean a solid, tangible outcome that you want to achieve? Your minimum expectation from the negotiation otherwise you walk away? What your anticipated outcome is and why the other side should agree to that?
If you haven’t got this sorted before your negotiation starts, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Not to mention giving the other side everything they want…at your expense.
In the example of the Egyptian traders, do you think they’ve thought about what they want, even before they’ve started the negotiation with you? Of course they have!
Andy’s Lesson No 3 – Think About What The Other Side Might Want
Not only should you be thing about what you want, but also what the other side might want! What do you know about them so far? What might they be looking for from this negotiation? What have they been tasked with achieving by their bosses?
Another thing worth thinking about is what are their alternatives to dealing with you, or continuing dealing with you?
Far too often business owners go into a negotiation without thinking what the other side’s possible options are…..and end of agreeing to something that they never should have done – only to find out later that the other side were in a weaker position! Doh!
When you study the Egyptian traders, they’ve already thought about what you might want. They’ve asked you questions about what you’re looking for…..they find it (and if they don’t have it, they’ll get it off another stall to sell it to you) and therefore they’re in a very strong negotiation position!
They’ve asked you what you want, provided it, and now all they have to do is achieve the price they want! Simple!
Andy’s Lesson No 4 – Use Time To Your Advantage
Time can be a big advantage to you in a negotiation – if you use it wisely! You can speed things up to put pressure on the other side. You can slow things down to give you the advantage if the other side has some time pressure to conclude the negotiations (think car salesperson at the end of the month). Alternatively, don’t be afraid to postpone negotiations if you feel you’re not ready!
The Egyptian traders are great at this! They know you don’t have a lot of time to shop at the different places in the market. They know that you have more than likely come to the market to buy souvenirs. They know that you don’t want to go home empty handed, so if they make it easy for you, you will buy!
Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your negotiations. I look forward to hearing about your successes!