Step into this scenario: You’re a few months into a negotiation with a prospective client and you’re so close to closing you can taste it. You’ve dotted your I’s, crossed your t’s, and even thrown in a few extras to sweeten the deal. Then, just as they’re reviewing the contract for the last time, they come back to the price, effectively hijacking the deal.

What do you do?


Understanding the ‘proposal dance’

Those who have been through their fair share of contract negotiations are also likely aware of what we’ll call the ‘proposal dance’ that occurs during a typical sales cycle.

Our sales leaders have found that at least three rounds of proposals are required before a deal is finalised. In this vein, we’ve gathered some techniques from our top sellers on how to manage those scenarios and effectively handle typical client objections.


Successful contract negotiation techniques

Using these straight-forward sales negotiation skills during the sales cycle should help you along the way.


Encourage Conversation

This is vital to sales, so focus 100% on listening to your potential client. They want to know that you take their concerns seriously and listening to them carefully will be the first step in proving your worth as a provider.

Get the conversation flowing with your potential clients with open-ended questions. This will allow them to open up, often providing opportunities to guide the discussion towards highlighting the benefits of your product. Some great examples of open ended questions:

  • “Can you help me grasp that a little better?”

  • “What challenges has that process created in the past?”

  • “What do you plan as the next action steps?

Further to this point, Mark Hunter, a Salesforce contributor and leading sales author, advises, “Lead with an industry question to get the prospect to engage. Prospects are always hesitant to talk, so make it easy for them to share their insight on a current issue their industry is facing. Once they respond, then follow-up by asking how that issue impacts their own situation.”


Resolve Doubts

You have listened to your potential buyer’s responses and are ready to resolve their doubts. Make it clear that you understand any objections so that your customer becomes more confident with you. Offering a trial period or highlighting a successful case study can help at this stage.

Be friendly, but not overly excited. Presenting yourself as friendly and helpful is a logically good approach to sales. However, becoming overly excited or familiar can put off buyers. When larger fees are involved, it’s normal to be full of adrenaline. Overt emotion rarely helps you close a deal though, so calm and friendly is the way to go.


Use Empathy to your Advantage

Each customer is different. You may be dealing with someone who is relatively new to their industry, so they will appreciate simple guidance as opposed to a complex proposal. Some are naturally warm and may therefore be more appreciative of a personal touch. Put yourself in the position of your customer and consider what you would want to be 100% clear before signing a contract.

Alison Gooch, Salesforce Sr. Manager Enterprise Business Reps, advocates aligning yourself with client needs and schedules. In 100 sales tips for 2017 she explains that you should "identify with the person you are connecting with and speak to their priorities, not a specific product."


Demonstrate Value

You should have an accurate idea of the value of your product and be able to demonstrate that to your prospective client. As Rob Ciampa, CMO of Pixability, puts it, data speaks for itself and helps demonstrate value. This allows him to be a genuinely trusted advisor for his customers. If more than simple data is required then highlight strengths such as your firm’s excellent customer service.

Also, testimonials are a great way to highlight value. “Encourage prospects to explore reviews,” states Dan Hanrahan, Founder & CEO of Sigstr. “Generating reviews and testimonials is a great way to give your prospects a place to go for current customer feedback.”


Time it Right

According to recent research, only 2% of sales occur at the first meeting, so negotiators should be realistic about closing deals at the first shot. Equally important is not allowing a contract negotiation to drag on unnecessarily. A good CRM can speed up your sales cycle with end-to-end contract management tools.

Teamwork can be highly productive during the sales process, particularly if you are using sales management software. Easy wins can help build confidence for junior sales staff, guided by sales mentors. More complex deals commonly require two or more experienced heads taking the lead. Identify the right team members for each opportunity and you will close deals more effectively, as highlighted in this learning resource about selling as a team.


Key contract negotiation takeaways

In short, figure out what your client needs, whether it’s help fully understanding the value of your product or  more time and support getting stakeholder buy-in. Empathising with your client, meeting their needs, and timing proposals correctly can make all the difference. Working in teams and having relevant tech solutions in place could also improve your sales processes.

Salesforce has specific solutions available to automate your sales pipeline, generate perfectly customised quotes and edit contracts on the go. With that taken care of you can focus on finalising your client contract negotiation confidently and effectively.


This post is part of our Navigating the Sales Cycle series. Download the e-book and discover the 7 steps to sales success