Know Your BNO: Prepare alternative solutions before negotiating a sale
When you negotiate a large-quantity book sale, price and delivery are two areas in which you may find yourself at odds with your prospect. When conflict arises, do not become argumentative, but do not let your prospect take advantage of you, either. Take the focus off price and place it on non-price issues. Focus on variables where your prospect’s interests and yours have more in common. Find and agree upon the best package of product, terms and service that most increases the value for your prospect without sacrificing your needs.
Before you enter a negotiation, consider alternatives for each issue that might arise. The more options you have, the more likely you are to close the deal satisfactorily. You can avoid “take it or leave it” situations and lead the discussion toward a possible solution and away from deadlock. Here is the outline for understanding your most acceptable Best Negotiated Outcome (BNO):
1. Make a list of all the outcomes that would be ideal for you. Think of all the different options that may come up when you discuss terms for the sale. What is your position on each? Consider these examples of most-beneficial terms:
a. Short discount
b. No returns
c. Little customization
d. Long delivery time
e. Large quantity order
f. Opportunities for recurring revenue
g. Payment with order
2. What are you willing to negotiate away in return for a favorable outcome? If you must concede on one item in order to get something in return, which of the above criteria is least important to you? If you must grant one point to close the sale, which would it be?
3. What are you not willing to sacrifice in return for a favorable outcome? What are the terms upon which you cannot concede?
4. What could undercut your BNO? Unanticipated points may surface during the negotiation. It is impossible to know these in advance, but you can think about the general parameters within which you will deal.
o Can you remove or alter any constraint that makes your BNO unattainable? You could be blind-sided with a stipulation that you pay a penalty for late delivery. But if you know in advance that your printer can easily make the intended date, you can catch your prospect off guard and regain the momentum when you reply, “Actually, I’ll pay you a higher penalty for late delivery, if you pay me a bonus for early delivery.”
5. What is your final BNO? The more you know beforehand about the people, the process, your costs and operations, the more likely you will discuss terms on the spot, resulting in the best negotiated outcome.
Good long-term relationships depend on win-win solutions. That means the final deal must be equitable for both sides. Do not give away too much. Focus on your bottom line and what you are — and are not — willing to negotiate to reach it.