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The Art of Customer Negotiation

describe the imageMost customers can fit quite nicely within your business structure, allowing you to provide the best service possible without negotiating. However, other customers may want you to make concessions in your price, product or policy to win – and keep – their business.

There are ways to successfully negotiate with customers without sacrificing service or bargaining away your profits in the process. This article will educate you about the finer points of negotiation you can use to keep your customers happy and coming back for more.

Preparing for Success

Before you begin the negotiation process, it is important to determine just how far you are willing to go. Know what your "walk away" threshold is.  How low will you negotiate before walking away from the process?  There are certain factors in a situation that can be negotiated and some that cannot. Know which factors you are able to work with, so you can guide the customer to those specific points. Some of the negotiable factors might include:

• Delivery options and schedules for your product
• Payments, terms and potential discounts
• Accessories included with the purchase
• Warranties and insurance included with the product
• Customization of the product to your customer's needs

Things you cannot negotiate usually involve factors that would affect the value of the product or security concerns. Try to steer negotiations away from these characteristics, but do not be afraid to stand firm where you have to if the customer decides to push.

Learn Your Customer's Real Need

Your customer may get so caught up in the negotiation process, they neglect to focus on the bottom-line need. This is where you come in. by listening to your customer, you can pinpoint the real need, and ensure negotiations adequately meet it. This will result in a satisfied customer even if they do not get everything they want out of the negotiation process.

Be Prepared with a Variety of Solutions

When possible, present more than one potential solution to your customer; this will help them feel that they have some choice and control in the process. Explain each solution carefully, including the benefits each one offers the customer. Ask the customer for input about the solutions, and allow them to choose the one that they believe will best meet their needs.

To Concede or Not to Concede?

It is important to note that most effective negotiations do include concession on both sides. However, conceding too much or too quickly will set your customer up for a repeat performance at a later date. Make concessions when you can, but make sure they line up with the expectations you want your customer to have for your business.

Proper negotiations with customers can result in greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. By following these steps, you can negotiate a myriad of issues with your customers and ensure that both sides win in the process.

-Meredith Estep

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.