So, you’ve selected the trade show or conference at which your company will exhibit. After ideating the booth, designing and ordering the swag, selecting employees to attend, organizing travel and hotels, setting up the booth, meeting potential clients and gathering contacts, your work is almost done—phew!
After all those months of planning, aiming to close that deal is left up to one small sliver of time. And despite how great those ballpoint pens you gave the potential clients were, what’s really going to win them over is you, and how you communicate the value of your company.
Easy enough, right? Yes, and no. You’ve done this before, been through the drill. You know your company’s mission statement by heart and you recite growth rates to help put you to sleep at night. But in order to seal the deal, potential clients are going to want something more than what the homepage of your company’s website has to offer.
You can boost your next trade show’s ROI—not just by booking more meetings—but by being better at what you’re there to do: get the conversation to where you are at a point of negotiating. That’s why we’re here with five helpful tips on how to improve your negotiation skills and close that deal.
Potential clients are looking for a company that can be trusted to listen to and work with its clients over the course of a partnership. In whatever short amount of time you have with clients, you are showing them all that they can expect in working with your company in the future.
If clients feel as though you are disengaged from the conversation and not adequately responding to their requests, questions, and concerns, they will expect this behavior in a future partnership.
To show clients you are listening, be sure to jot down notes as they speak and craft appropriate follow-up questions. If something isn’t made clear to you, ask a clarification question such as, “I just want to be sure I understand you correctly. Did you say …” Clarity is key, and opposite of the sense that it might seem like you weren’t listening, it will show that you truly want to understand their motives and expectations.
2. Maintain a Collaborative Discussion
Just as it is important to listen, is it important to have your voice heard. To establish a successful partnership, you need to show your potential client that you can work well together and the partnership is to benefit both parties. Focus on achieving the best possible outcome for all involved parties. To demonstrate how well you will work together in the future, be honest and direct about what you’re looking for, and focus on the principles you can both agree on.
3. Know Your Potential Client
So, you got the prospects contact info and set up the meeting. But this is where your work begins. Potential clients are not looking for a scripted sales pitch—they’ve likely been hearing those all day.
While it’s essential to the negotiation that you communicate the services and benefits your company can provide that are specific to the prospect, clients will be more impressed by your proactive understanding of their company, needs and priorities before the meeting.
You may be in a time crunch, but make it a priority to go to the company’s website and understand its mission and goals—how will your company align with and fulfill those goals? Research who the company has worked with in the past—how can your company work within the company’s existing system, making a transition as smooth as possible? Research the content that the company puts on its website. Determine where you fit in—what can the company improve upon that can only be made possible working with a company like yours?
4. Never be Mean to Money
Yes, your company has something to offer potential clients, and yes, they may greatly benefit from your services. But at the end of the day, potential clients are benefiting from your offering, as much as you are from their business. Remember that you need to close this deal to succeed, and do not let the personality or demeanor of your potential clients bring out any unfavorable emotions or throw you off of your negotiating game.
Put yourself in the clients’ shoes. Recognize that they are busy, stressed, and overwhelmed—and keep a positive perspective. Instead of thinking about how you feel about the individuals personally, try focusing on the larger company you are dealing with. Ask yourself what the company’s motivations are, and speak to the client as if you are speaking to the entire company. Always feel free to complain with your co-workers after your meeting is over!
5. The K.I.S.S. Principle
At a conference or trade show, you will likely be meeting with a lot of clients in a short amount of time. If you only have 15 or 30 minutes to communicate the benefits of your company, it is important that you Keep It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S.).
You are selling, so you want them to understand what you can offer them as clearly as possible. In order to maintain a clear and concise picture of how you see your company working with theirs, devise your negotiation around one or two central selling points.
This will prevent you from going into a tangent about every single way your company can help the client and has helped every client in the past. Know your main points, and stick to them.
There’s Always Room to Improve Your Negotiation Skills
While practice makes perfect, even the most seasoned negotiators sometimes get caught up in the emotions and the pressure involved in securing a deal. That’s why it is important to continue to reflect on your experiences at the negotiation table and secure more deals in the future.