Sometimes, the more you want an account, the more you need to be willing to walk away. Remember, you have a great product/service, and a lot of evidence to back your assertions of greatness. However, no matter how much great data you have, some prospects will continue to push for more, or throw out more objections until you push back. The temptation is strong to sell into these objections right away. There comes a point in negotiations, however, where your very eagerness to win the account can endanger the sale. It’s OK to want the account really bad, but you shouldn’t let the prospect see that.
There are a few ways to re-establish your leverage, and continue negotiations without coming off as desperate.
– Ask for clarification – ie “I’m sorry Mr Smith, but I must be missing something. When we started this conversation you told me X and Y were the most important to you, and I think we are on target to do that with this solution. Help me understand, have your priorities changed?”
This also reminds them of the pain they were trying to solve to begin with. The pain that led them to meet with you to begin with (Yes, I know, you thought they were meeting with you because you said something brilliant on the phone, but the ugly truth is that they meet with you for THEIR reasons, and something you said made them aware of those reasons).
– Take it away – Exactly as a rep I rode with did recently. She did this fully knowing that she had created a good relationship, and had made her case solidly based on logic and understanding their need (or pain). Simply admitting that it might not be a fit is often enough for them to be reminded that you are not begging, you are there to solve a business pain.
– Pull Back the last offer – This is my favorite, and works extremely well. When you thought you had an agreement, and a prospect starts asking for more, instead of bluntly saying no, or giving in, just hinting that even the last thing you agreed to may be hard to get done creates a mental reaction in most prospects that makes them focus on reclaiming what they had.
All of this, of course, should be measured in accordance to the quality of the prospect you are negotiating with. Losing a Dream account over one percentage point doesn’t make sense, but even top tier accounts are sometimes won over by a display of your being willing to walk away.
Last year, a rep and I politely walked out of an appointment when the owner simply refused to admit that he needed to fill tables. He was spending hundreds of dollars a month on mailed coupons, but claimed he was doing that because “I’ve done it for ever”. As tempted as I was to point out that his reasoning was illogical (Not a good idea, no one wants to hear their baby is ugly), what became obvious was this prospect was stuck in his status quo and just wouldn’t discuss anything else.
What is comes down to is that Desperation doesn’t sell. Confidence does. You offer significant value to the prospects you are meeting with and talking to. Never forget that!
So be persistent. Understand that a “no” now doesn’t mean “no” forever. Continue to stay in contact with resistant prospects, but if you sense a dead end, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by restoring the balance of power in your conversations and demonstrating your willingness to walk away.