When it comes to negotiation, very few sellers spend enough time planning. I encourage you to carve out time to get centered and think about some of the upcoming negotiations you have. There’s a lot to consider, but let's start by thinking differently about your customers and the ways you engage with them.
There are many ways that buyers relate to sellers. There are many ways that they attribute value to what we do for them, and many ways that they approach how they will pay for that value. Understanding how your buyers think about value is key to identifying their buyer type. Over the years, we’ve built a simple structure with four buyer types to help sellers plan their negotiations. Let's take a look at the four buyer types and the behaviors, tactics, or what we call “tells” you might see in a negotiation, or even prior to the negotiation.
- The Price Buyer: Buys on price as the sole metric, which means it's a very controlled and spec-driven process. They're very clear about what they need, they don't want you to develop anything unique for them, and it is all about price. If you try to go beyond that and attempt to sell on value or even relationship, you'll just be discounted. People that can win with price buyers are usually low-cost providers or have a low-cost offering.
- The Relationship Buyer: They have a high degree of trust in you and depend on you to deliver. All buyers need some level of relationship, but a relationship buyer buys just on that. The number one thing you can do to mess up the deal with the relationship buyer is to lose their trust, or not have something that they need.
- The Value Buyer: It's all about the ROI. They need lots of choices. They're going to be doing math repeatedly during the negotiation; they may even have a spreadsheet open while you're talking to them. This is the buyer that loves details and will thank you for laying out every option available to them.
- The Poker Player: This is either a relationship buyer or a value buyer, masked as a price buyer. They're trying to get the most value out of you for the lowest price, and sometimes we've trained our buyers to be poker players. They can be unpleasant to deal with but once you are trained to spot them, you will be able to effectively identify their true buying agenda.
Step back and think, "What do our buyers really want from us? What type of behaviors are they exhibiting?" Work to come up with the negotiation strategy you truly need based on your customer's buyer type. If you plan for one buyer type for your negotiation and they’re actually another, you will fail. Does a price buyer want the same thing a value buyer wants? Absolutely not. Does a relationship buyer want the same thing a price buyer wants? Again, absolutely not.
Start to figure out what buyer behaviors you're seeing and what tactics you feel have been used on you. Categorize your buyer type and try it on with other people in your organization. Find the devil's advocate and see if they see it the same way. Think about your relationship with the decision-maker to place yourself in one of the selling scenarios. Take a step back and plan for your next negotiation.