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Successful negotiating requires you have a strategy. The clearer your strategy before negotiating, the more successful you will be. At the core of the strategy is what I refer to as the “3 Ts of Negotiating: Trust, Time, and Tactics.”
Trust — The more trust you and the other party have in each other, the less need there will be to negotiate. The risk is in knowing whether the trust is real or perceived.
Trust only comes through time and the quality of interactions you have had with the customer. To gauge the level of trust you have established, consider what the other person has told you about their company. The more they tell you that is not known by others, the more trust they have in you.
Perceived trust is blind and will get you in trouble very quickly. It often comes when the other party is a good communicator and is easy to get along with.
Time — The more time you have before it’s necessary to finalize the deal, the greater your leverage. If time is of the essence to you, do not allow the other party to know what your timeframe is. A good negotiator will use it to their advantage by knowing timelines the other party is dealing with — without revealing anything other than what is necessary to help you close the negotiation.
Tactics— People use tactics to negotiate when they do not have an established level of trust with the other person or they don’t have time working in their favor. The number and type of tactics a person will use is in direct proportion to the lack of trust they place in others.
One way of looking at the role these 3 Ts play in negotiating is to think of the sum of the three equaling 100%. If you have a high degree of trust in the other person and they have trust in you, then there is no need to use tactics or leverage time. In this case, trust might be 100%. On the other hand, if you have very little trust in the other party, then you need to rely on tactics and time to complete the negotiation. The worst case would be where you have zero time to negotiate and there is no trust between the two parties. In this case, the only “T” you have is tactics.
Your ability to increase the level of trust will always allow you to decrease the importance of time and tactics. Start today paying close attention to the level of trust that exists between you and each of your customers. I encourage you to really think about this, even if you are not currently in a negotiation situation.
Wise salespeople know how to assess each T with each customer. The more adept you become at this, the better negotiator you will become. Are the three Ts part of your strategy? They should be.
About the author
Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. He is also author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.”