If all of us saw things the same way, well life would be pretty easy, and boring to say the least. Even in our best efforts to understand our clients’ desires and needs, we are bound to come face-to-face with a challenging negotiation process from time to time. While we don’t want to give away the farm, we also need to meet our clients as close to halfway as possible so that all parties feel like they have a fair win and value in the final contract.
When working with new or current clients, it is essential that you are prepared to address any requests or situations that may arise. Whether you’re negotiating the payment terms for an upcoming new construction project or defining the scope of a remodel, negotiation skills are required in the conversations that you will have with a client along the way.
Here are 5 quick and easy tips for strengthening your negotiation skills with clients:
- Don’t be the First – While I firmly believe in being upfront and transparent in business and the negotiation process, don’t be the first one to put the offer on the table. Of course, there are instances in the bidding process where you will have no choice but to show your cards from the start, but even then, get all details and requirements before stepping foot in the proverbial waters. When you have flexibility and room for negotiation, don’t jump to put a price on it. By taking the time to understand your client’s budget and parameters, you can offer products and services that are an easy fit, rather than a hard sell.
- Bundle Up – Think of your mobile phone service… They are constantly offering bundles. Bundles are an easy way to sweeten a deal that may be heading a little sour. Have bundles already in mind before you get to the table. By bundling additional products or services at a visible discount, you will automatically add value without taking a hard hit to the bottom line.
- Turn Down the Volume – It is easy to get excited and want to explain every detail and sell a customer on all of the bells and whistles, but take a moment to pause. The loudest one in the room is not always the most successful one in the negotiation process. Instead, slow down and take time to process requests before being reactive and saying “yes” to everything. With a little silence, you might find that you give room for the client to fill the empty space, often providing useful information on their perspective and expectations. Also, being too quick on the trigger can hamper your professionalism and come off across as too eager. A little time of pause throughout the process can provide just the right amount of breathing room and a little time for articulating a solid and effective response.
- Let the Numbers Talk – Although personal attention and communication are important when it comes to maintaining client relationships, in negotiations you can let the numbers do some of the talking. When a client sees their savings, timelines and cost comparisons in writing, the whole proposal holds more weight. You can talk about designs and pricing, but power is frequently found in the final numbers; by reviewing them together, you can answer questions and provide a cost breakdown in a way that makes sense.
- Walk Away as Needed – You may find yourself in a situation where you just don’t seem to see eye-to-eye no matter your approach or offers. By all means, you should exhaust all options, but don’t exhaust your resources. As home builders, we can lead ourselves to extremes to meet clients’ needs, but we shouldn’t go so far that we eventually go into the red. Know your value proposition and your limits with cutting costs. When going for a big fish, it is easy to land into big loss just for the sake of securing the job. If the negotiation process is high maintenance from the start, you may just find that it will be that way through the end. If you are selling yourself short, don’t be afraid to walk away. Your client may come back in the same sitting or down the line.
While we can’t know every and all possible scenario in the negotiation process, we can be prepared. By having a clear understanding for your terms and worth, you will gain firm ground by knowing what you can and cannot offer. By being clear on your boundaries and taking time to read your clients’ cues, your negotiations can result in a final contract that is agreeable and valuable to all parties.
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