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Making the Sale by Building Trust while Negotiating

    1. Demonstrate your competence. Convincing your buyer that you have both the expertise and the will to support your end of the negotiation builds trust. We are all more comfortable with someone we can look to for honest answers, options and solutions.
    2. Make sure that the nonverbal signals you are sending match the words you are saying. The buyer can tell more about your total message by reading and understanding the nonverbal signals you are sending than by just listening to your words. Congruence between your verbal and nonverbal messages helps create trust in the relationship.
    3. Maintain a professional appearance. Rightly or wrongly, people do judge a book by its cover. A well-groomed, professional appearance is important.

    1. Communicate your good intentions. Although no buyer is likely to tolerate repeated mistakes or failures, most buyers will give you greater leeway if they know your intentions are good.
    2. Do what you say you are going to do. Each time you fulfill a promise, you let your buyer know you can be relied on. If you do what you say you are going to do–even when the negotiation is over and you may no longer feel like doing it–your buyer will perceive you as a trusted partner.
    3. Go beyond the conventional relationship. I was recently involved in a contract negotiation. Because I was unfamiliar with the type of contract being negotiated, I asked my counterpart for more time to study it. He responded, “Of course,” and then went on to ask whether I would like samples of some of his competitors’ contracts so I could compare them with what he was offering. By providing these contracts to help educate me, he went well beyond the conventional relationship. My trust in this counterpart went up quickly.
    4. Listen. Listening openly to your buyer’s ideas, regardless of whether you agree with those ideas, will provide you with a greater opportunity to build trust. Encourage your buyer to exchange opinions. Get complete information before offering your input. Also recognize that your buyer’s opinions and positions might change as the sale progresses.
    5. Over-communicate. When sales negotiations get tough, the natural tendency is to communicate less. Resist that tendency! Open, honest communication builds trust.
    6. Discuss the undiscussables. Many sales negotiations have issues that are difficult to address. Some examples of tough issues are price, competitors’ products and competitors’ services. Showing a willingness to discuss the tough topics displays confidence and helps build trust.
    7. Provide accurate information, without any hidden agenda. Many sales professionals think providing their buyers with as little information as possible is a wise move. I disagree. To build a win-win relationship, both the buyer and the seller need enough information to make good decisions that meet the goals of both. I also think it is a good idea to give your buyer information on both sides of an issue, not just the side you prefer. Finally, when you do not have all the answers, admit it.
    8. Be honest (even when it costs you something). A client recently called to say I had billed him less than I had quoted for a negotiation program for his sales team. This was true, because the client had switched the program I was doing from two half-days to one full day, for which I charge less. When I explained this to the client, he replied, “You didn’t have to do that. It wasn’t that much difference.” My response was, “You didn’t have to call me. Maybe that’s why we work well together.”
    9. Be patient. No buyer likes to negotiate with the fast-talking salesperson who insists an immediate decision is necessary. Patience breeds trust–and better decisions.
    10. Safeguard for fairness. It is your responsibility to ensure that your buyer gets a fair outcome. If the outcome is unfair, will your buyer be interested in working with you again? If you make sure every buyer goes away happy, your reputation as a negotiator will take care of itself.

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