Perhaps nothing creates more angst for staffing and recruiting professionals than a price negotiation. Here’s how I coach my clients to reduce any anxiety.
- Remember that negotiation is an ongoing process, not an event. Typically the outcome is determined way before the close. If you approach the sales process consultatively, price should be the last thing to come up - after the buyer has already decided he wants to work with you.
- Aim high. You can always come down, but you can’t go back up. Some staffing professionals roll over on price because they don't truly believe in the value they will create for the customer. Check your body language, tone of voice and word choices when it’s time for a price quote, and confidently present a rate at the top of your range.
- Your goal is a win-win. A win-lose in a price negotiation usually spells failure in retaining a client over time. If your buyer feels he lost (he walks away with a nagging feeling he’s paying too much), his expectations may exceed what you can deliver (not good). If you lose (you give away the store and end up losing money), you’ll resent having to provide the same level of service to this client that you provide to another at higher margins (also not good). One or both parties typically end up disillusioned and either your client fires you or you have to have the uncomfortable conversation about raising your rate or firing your client.
- Remember that in a price negotiation, he who speaks first generally loses. State your rate and allow silence. It’s possible the prospect is just processing how your price quote fits his budget, not formulating an objection about your rate. If you come back too quickly with “…but for you, we can charge X (a lower rate)” you have just relinquished all the power to the buyer, who is now thinking “what else can I get?”
- Always expect reciprocity. You give, you get. When you’re forced to lower your price, ask the buyer what services he can live without. If you don’t, you're training him to continue to want more while reducing the value of what you're conceding. Keep the negotiation balanced and you’ll command the respect you deserve.
Commit these strategies to memory, employ them regularly, and you’ll see more success.By Amy Bingham