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What Is BATNA?

Jeff Cochran

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Sometimes, the worst scenario occurs: a negotiation breaks down and an agreement may fall apart between the parties involved. When all else fails, having a prepared BATNA is essential in keeping the negotiation from shutting down and a last resort at resolving conflict. If a salesperson is careful enough, they can still have control of the deal.

Definition of BATNA

You might be wondering, what is BATNA? BATNA is the acronym for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. According to the Business Dictionary, BATNA is defined as “a term used by negotiators to describe options available to their side if negotiations fail.” The entry continues and points out that, “negotiators who have a strong, well-defined BATNA have an advantage because they have a clear benchmark to which they can compare any negotiated settlement.”

 

Importance of BATNA in Negotiation

Before you even schedule a business meeting or agree to see your negotiating partner, you should have a BATNA in mind. Preparing a BATNA ahead of the meeting yields numerous rewards for you, such as:

  • Giving you an alternative when the negotiations fall through
  • Giving you negotiation power over your negotiation partner
  • Considering the lowest point that you are willing to offer

In contrast, by having a weak BATNA or no BATNA at all, your partner can take advantage of your flaws, it will reduce your bargaining options, and will leave you in agreement for something lower in value than what you expected.

 

Know Your Partner’s BATNA

As you develop your BATNA, it is just as important to learn as much of your partner’s BATNA as possible. For one, it will leave you less vulnerable in case your partner is just as savvy as you. Also, you need to figure out your partner’s business needs and position in order to meet them. If you can understand what your partner wants, you will come up with a deal that will benefit both parties involved.

In general, to create the ideal BATNA, assess your business needs and make of a list of everything you would do to meet a solution with the negotiating partner. Then, pick the lowest option that is only better than not working with the partner at all. The most balanced approach is to meet the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA), which is the compromise range that lies between the highest amount a buyer will pay and the lowest a seller will go for before both parties walk away.

 

Approaching BATNA

Once you have your BATNA set, proceed with the negotiations. If you and your partner come to an agreement immediately, then the bargaining went well and there is no need to reach that next stage. If the conflict escalates to the point of ending the negotiation, then offer your BATNA. However, when you set up the BATNA, make the impression that you are ready to get up and leave if the other party doesn’t consider it. This action communicates to your partner that they are acting like an opponent, and that you are better off not doing any business with them. In addition, you can avoid the other party taking advantage of you and forcing you to settle for less, or no deal.

At the same time, ensure that both of you ultimately reach a mutually beneficial result. Every time you agree to a concession, ask one for yourself as well. Ultimately, negotiations are about maintaining a power balance between the involved parties when reaching an agreement. If you remain both insistent in your bargaining and fair when reaching out to the other negotiator, it will boost your reputation as a negotiator and potentially bring further business to you.

 

Examples of BATNA

Though BATNA is a last resort when it comes to negotiation, it manifests in plenty of scenarios where any amount of negotiation is present. The following are examples of how BATNA operates in different negotiation scenarios:

  • Customer needs. A customer needs a product that has no alternative, and his BATNA is to live with it, while the salesperson can offer the product for a discount, but nothing lower than that.
  • Customer preference. A salesperson can tell a customer prefers their products to the competition. The customer’s BATNA is choosing the competition, while the salesperson will hope to complete the deal with a discount.
  • Sales target. A customer notices that a salesperson has not hit a sales target. The salesperson’s BATNA is missing their sales quota. The customer is willing to persuade the salesperson for some discounts, so the salesperson can close the deal and meet the target.
  • The employer knows that the economy is in danger and jobs are hard to find. The employer has the negotiating power, since the candidates have no other options besides unemployment.
  • In the reverse of the employment scenario, an employee is talented and in high demand, while the employer needs the employee’s talent for their business and has much to lose if the negotiation fails. Therefore, the candidate can demand more, and the employer’s best interest is to accommodate.
  • A customer in the process of buying a product declares a specific brand superior to the others. His or her BATNA is to end up buying an inferior brand instead, which motivates them to buy. However, the customer may use bluffing to hide their interest and deal with the salesperson.
  • A product is in short supply because the industry cannot keep up with the high demand. The customers have the BATNA of not buying a product at all or to cut back, while the manufacturer is able to offer the highest price available.

 

Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Despite the importance of having a best alternative to your negotiating agreement ready for every negotiation, it is always best to avoid that situation in the first place. Shapiro Negotiations’ training course can prepare you to become a better negotiator. The course is available in different methods, from classroom and virtual training, to keynotes and consulting, and will bring you benefits such as developing better business partnerships and increasing confidence and results in negotiations. Contact us for more information and improve your negotiation skills today.

Building Rapport With Sales Clients

Andres Lares

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One of the most essential skills salespeople must have is the ability to build a rapport with their clients. You can have an excellent product and a persuasive and researched pitch, but none of those elements will matter if you or your client do not have a connection with each other. If you want to excel at building rapport, you must have a clear rapport definition in mind. You must also develop your communication skills to bond with different clients. Learn more about rapport and bonding with clients by following the techniques below.

 

Rapport Definition

Before you even start thinking about approaching clients, you should understand what rapport means in a broader sense, and specifically within the field of business. For instance, the Oxford English dictionary defines rapport as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” Meanwhile, the Business Dictionary gives rapport the definition of “a positive or close relationship between people that often involves mutual trust, understanding and attention.”

Both definitions emphasize rapport as a close relationship. A salesperson must establish a connection with the client strong enough for the client to consider it “close”. The relationship should also be positive, harmonious, and facilitate the transfer of ideas. The second definition is slightly different in that it lists the components of rapport: the establishment of trust, understanding, and attention between the two parties.

The fact that the business-oriented definition does not differ much from the general definition also means that building rapport is not just a specific business technique, but a broader one that people use to meet their goals and improve their lives daily. Approaching the construction of rapport with a client the same way you would to have a pleasant, constructive conversation with any person can help put you at ease. If you are relaxed, you can share that feeling with the client, and that goes a long way when building rapport.

 

Mirroring Your Client

A subtle technique that creates a bond with your client fast is analyzing their body language and imitating it occasionally. Mirroring builds a subconscious connection with the person you are talking to, and when done correctly, is proven to achieve sales increases and positive evaluations. Anyone can accomplish mirroring through three steps:

  • Face your client and show attentiveness to their conversation via eye contact and nodding.
  • Match the client’s speaking volume and pace.
  • Identify the client’s punctuating action when making a point and imitate it the next time they perform it.

Remember to practice mirroring in moderation. Repeating these steps frequently can become obvious, make the customer uncomfortable, and break the connection instead of building it.

 

Asking Interesting Questions

One of the simplest methods a salesperson can use to build a rapport with clients is to learn more information about them by asking questions. When a salesperson shows interest in a client by asking questions, it shows the client they can trust the salesperson. This allows the salesperson to gather more information about the client to customize their sales platform, and keeps the client engaged throughout the process. Not every question is effective, however, so you should craft a rapport-building question carefully.

An effective question must consider the following aspects in order to build a genuine connection with the other person:

  • The question should apply specifically to the client you are seeing and the situation around both of you. Observe the person’s actions, clothing, mannerisms, and other specific details to build questions from.
  • Catching a person off-guard by asking them a nontraditional question raises their interest and keeps them engaged in the conversation.
  • At the same time, make sure that the question is not invasive or does not make the client uncomfortable.

Keep these elements in mind when coming up with the questions, and you can build rapport with a client and establish trust and understanding while also keeping their attention. A small sample of some of the best questions to ask the other person include:

  • What’s something most people don’t realize about [client’s city/state]?
  • Have you always wanted to work in [client’s field]?
  • What was your favorite class you ever took at college?
  • Are you subscribed to any newsletters or blogs about [topic, client’s industry]?
  • I noticed that your office is in [city neighborhood]. Do you like to go out to [local restaurant] to eat?
  • You seem like a busy person? Do you use any apps to keep organized? I am considering using them, so I’d appreciate some recommendations.

Asking questions that you can specialize to the client and are somewhat specific keeps conversation interesting.

 

Empathetic Statements

A salesperson must understand the client’s personality, needs, and wants in order to give their sales approach a direction. Understanding the client also helps establish a connection, as the client will feel less isolated and better about themselves. Using empathetic statements is an effective way of mirroring the person’s verbal messages, physical status, and emotions without parroting and putting off the customer.

You can build a simple empathetic statement by starting with “So, you…” followed by a small assumption about their words or their actions. Even if those assumptions are not entirely accurate, these statements demonstrate you are paying attention to the client’s actions and you are seeking to understand their feelings.

Some specific empathetic statements further develop a connection while also suggesting an action to a client.

  • Empathetic presumptive. This empathetic statement presents a presumption around a fact about the client but allows the client to interpret the fact. Whether the assumption is correct or not, the client can provide additional information that the salesperson can use to guide the conversation and dig deeper into what the client wants. For instance, if a client is looking around, the salesperson can ask, “So, you’re looking for [product].” The customer can confirm or deny it, and clarify the assumption.
  • Empathetic conditional. This statement keeps the focus on the client but adds specific circumstances where the client would decide. To follow on the previous example, after making an empathetic presumptive, if the client says they are looking for a product, but does not know if they can afford it, the salesperson can state, “So, you’d buy [product] if it was more affordable.” This allows the seller to identify with the customer’s specific issue and guide them towards a specific solution.

Using empathetic statements, you can get an understanding of the client’s goals and issues in reaching those goals without having to say much, and then you can help your client in a personal manner.

 

Listening to the Client

Gauging your client’s needs is important when understanding them, but sometimes, it is just as important to sit back and listen. If you establish a mutual interest or if the conversation takes a turn where the other person talks constantly about a hobby, a story, a problem, or any other topic, then simply listen. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the other person and how you can sell to them. In addition, the client will appreciate your consideration and interest, and when you discuss sales, they are more willing to return the favor and listen to you.

 

Establishing Trust

Another technique in presenting yourself as an ideal person to build a rapport with is establishing trust. Maintaining connections and making sales is easier if the customer believes you are reliable and dependable. There are a few steps you can take to establish trust in your client:

  • Respect the client’s time. Always arrive early when meeting with the client and never try to stop them from doing something else.
  • Sell only a realistic solution. Be honest about what you can offer to the client, and let the client make the decision.
  • Show respect towards the competition. In case the competition ever comes up in conversation, show respect and avoid trash talk. The customer will see you as mature and professional.
  • Practice authenticity. Rather than relying on programmed pitches or slogans, lead with stories or humor. This step makes you appear sincere, honest, and approachable.
  • When in doubt, offer referrals. In the rare case you cannot help your client in any way, do not hesitate to refer the customer to other qualified people who can do the task. This shows the client that you care about their wellbeing, not just their business.
  • Deliver on your promises. If you offer a realistic promise and the client takes you on it, make sure to deliver.

 

Keeping the Client’s Attention

Another important element required when building a rapport is keeping the customer’s attention. No matter how much you work to keep the conversation interesting and engaging, distractions will always manifest and hinder your communication efforts. These tips should help you keep your conversation with the customer lively, while also keeping your sale on focus.

  • Keep them involved with questions, listening to them, or filling in forms
  • Make your main point as soon as possible
  • Change the topic, pace, or emotion every 10 minutes to keep the conversation interesting
  • Use humor to ease them between points
  • Summarize your points occasionally to keep your focus

 

Take the Next Step in Building Rapport

The development of communication skills to bond with others is essential in everyday life and relationships. Now that you have a stronger sense of how to build a rapport with clients, you should take your knowledge to the next level and consider corporate sales training. The corporate sales training program at Shapiro Negotiations focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of salespeople. While the program works as a standalone sales process, it can also integrate into your existing sales skillset, giving it a boost. Sign up today to optimize your sales.

 

What Is Sales Prospecting? A Prospecting Definition and Some Tips

Jeff Cochran

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You’ll find the process of sales prospecting at every successful business. Prospecting involves an excavation, or a hunt for qualified leads, as well as efforts to convert them into customers. Learning the prospecting definition is only the first step toward creating opportunities for sales. The next is acquiring prospecting skills that will turn your leads into loyal, lifelong customers. Achieve more fruitful sales prospecting with these tips.

 

Prospecting Definition

Prospecting traditionally referred to the search for minerals, such as gold. As a business term, the idea remains the same: to strike “gold” in a warm sales lead. The Oxford English dictionary gives the prospecting definition of, “the possibility or likelihood of a future event occurring, or a person regarded as a potential customer.” The Business Dictionary defines a prospect as a, “potential customer qualified on the basis of his/her buying authority, financial capacity, and willingness to buy.”

In essence, sales prospecting is the act of sales reps reaching out to leads in the hope of creating sales opportunities. Prospecting can refer to marketing tactics, cold calls, email campaigns, and other ways to nurture leads. Prospecting in particular refers to reps contacting leads who have gone cold, or who have lost connection with the brand. It also encompasses researching leads and categorizing them based on their likelihood to convert.

Prospecting is a very important sales process, as it is typically the first step in the sales funnel. It involves identifying potential customers, developing a database of prospects, and then communicating with leads with the goal of converting them into customers. It can be a difficult process if a salesperson does not know what to expect or how to do it effectively.

 

What Does Sales Prospecting Look Like?

Sales prospecting secures leads and moves them through the sales funnel, until they convert into customers. A lead will become a prospect if something qualifies him or her as a potential customer. This could mean that the lead fulfills the persona of the target buyer, or that the lead has already expressed interest in the brand (clicked on the website, came to a landing page, etc.). Once the lead becomes a prospect, the real work begins. Here are the basic steps for high-converting sales prospecting:

 

1. Salespeople should know their prospects. They should conduct as much research as possible into the prospect and his or her buying habits. The goal should be to determine the quality of the lead. Come up with a set of criteria to assess the probability of the person buying. Most companies use customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep track of leads and prospects.

2. Once the salesperson has done his or her homework, it’s time to connect with the lead. Making a connect could come from a phone call, an email blast, or a personal connection. The goal of the first connect is generally to schedule a follow-up sales meeting.

3. At this stage, the rep should evaluate the prospect’s unique needs and aim to fulfill them. The salesperson should identify needs and potential objections, and prepare arguments for the service or product. The salesperson’s job is to continue moving the prospect through the sales funnel.

4. Follow-up. The follow-up connection should be the deal-closer. It is the meeting in which the salesperson puts the prospect’s fears to rest, fulfills a need, answers questions, and sets the lead up for conversion. The salesperson should make it as easy as possible for the lead to turn into a revenue-generating customer.

5. The final step in successful sales prospecting is closing the sale. A salesperson can turn to many different techniques to close a sale and convert a prospect into a customer. Closing is one of the most difficult steps in sales prospecting. It is also one of the most important skills a salesperson can master.

 

Sales prospecting generally refers to the first few steps of researching and acquiring qualified leads, as well as the initial connection. However, it can encompass every step of the sales funnel or buyer journey, until the prospect becomes a loyal customer. Like everything in business, practice makes perfect. There are proven techniques and best practices that can increase the success rate of sales prospecting in all industries. Becoming a Master Prospector takes time, training, and commitment.

 

Tips for Striking Gold While Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting isn’t optional. It is necessary if a company wishes to grow its bottom line. Digging for new customers doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel. Sales reps can look at pioneers before them for proven ways to master prospecting. The following are a few tips and tricks from seasoned sales professionals:

 

  • Put in the time. Too many salespeople rush prospecting, failing to conduct proper research to discover the qualification of the lead. Setting aside time for prospecting each week can keep the pipeline full.
  • Know your personas. It may seem obvious, but knowing the buyer personas is critical for successful prospecting. Salespeople should know their ideal buyers in and out, and be able to spot them immediately.
  • Prioritize prospects. A sales rep should dedicate the majority of his or her time to the most qualified leads. Qualifying factors should group leads into categories based on their likelihood to convert. Software is available to do this automatically.
  • Personalize connections. Connecting with a prospect is much more likely to lead to a follow-up appointment if the initial message is personal. Reference a specific issue the prospect has, or mention another relevant tidbit about the person. Connect with the prospect on a personal, human level, aiming to help instead of to sell.
  • Use technology. Social media, CRM software, marketing automation, Google Alerts…there are plenty of technological solutions available to make sales prospecting easier and more effective. Use the technology at your disposal to become an efficient converting machine.

 

Being a skilled prospector is one of the most important techniques a salesperson can master. Find a mentor to teach your team the best tools and habits for success. Join the Corporate Sales Training course at SNI to discover a proven, systematic approach to maximize the effectiveness of salespeople. You and your sales reps will learn how to optimize sales prospecting, find and evaluate qualified leads, and close more sales. Sign up today.

Are In-Person Networking Skills Still Important in a Social Media Age?

Andres Lares

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In the Age of Social Media, how important are face-to-face networking skills? Very, according to recent surveys. The majority (68%) of entry-level professionals place more value on face-to-face networking than online interactions. Furthermore, just over half (51%) of professionals do not have LinkedIn profiles, showing significant dissonance even with the most popular business networking site. Face-to-face networking skills are still critical for working professionals who wish to advance their careers or grow businesses.

 

The Importance of Business Networking

Sales center on people. People making connections and building relationships with other people are what keep companies in business. Networking is at the heart of business. This remains true whether the networking is online or in person. Business networking is essential for people who want jobs, career advancement, or business growth. Salespeople especially rely on networking. It is the number one way to establish trust, introduce oneself to potential customers, and increase brand awareness and product visibility.

The art of networking has undergone significant changes in the last few decades. From business cards to business Instagram accounts, everything has gone digital. Sites like LinkedIn target business people specifically, aimed at helping professionals build their networks, earn endorsements, and get better jobs. While connecting online might appear to widen a person’s career network and help forge relationships, in reality it still falls short of in-person networking for most business people.

Networking at corporate events, conferences, and sales meetings can help businesses and prospects connect. Sales professionals, for example, can exchange information with potential customers and leave lasting impressions from their face-to-face meetings. Virtual networking can also add value to professional relationships. It can help a person develop contacts, connect with important people in the industry, and get in touch with the right people. Despite the push toward online connections, in-person business networking is still highly valuable.

 

What Do the Numbers Say?

Many different sources agree: nothing is more effective than in-person networking. Research proves that face-to-face interactions tend to be more positive than online interactions. The people who achieve the greatest results from their networking efforts almost always engage in face-to-face interactions. When searching for a new job, 46% of people still find the most success in traditional, in-person networking.

While actual words are important, they make up only 7% of a person’s perception of sincerity. Nonverbal cues are much more important when it comes to discerning whether to trust someone. Facial expressions while we talk make up 55%, while inflection of tone makes up 38%. A whopping 72% of people say looks and handshakes influence their decisions. One survey from 2015 found that 9 in 10 people choose small, face-to-face meetings as their preferred communication method.

When it comes to personal preference, in-person is a clear winner across multiple surveys. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents in the Virgin survey say they prefer in-person meetings, while 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. If companies eliminated business travel for in-person interactions, they would lose around 17% of their total profits. Despite the pull of the “Social Media Age,” it’s clear business professionals still value in-person networking highly.

 

The Benefits of In-Person Networking

The internet is growing as a way to network and build relationships. However, the media richness theory finds that seeing someone in person is still the richest form of communication. The next-best form is video conferencing, which still allows those in the conversation to see facial expressions and hear inflections. Then comes phone communication, then emails, and lastly, texts. The richer the mode of communication, the better it is for developing relationships. Although many online tools today facilitate networking, in-person interactions come with the following benefits:

  • Reading body language
  • Customizing the conversation
  • Showcasing your personality
  • Building a human relationship and trust
  • Establishing chemistry and sharing energy
  • Having more diverse and memorable conversations
  • Getting insider knowledge
  • Preventing harmful miscommunications
  • Taking business relationships to the next level
  • Bonding with others in a shared setting
  • Having fun during the interaction
  • Arranging the next (follow-up) action

No amount of sophisticated technology can replace in-person networking. Being with the other person in the flesh can forge stronger bonds and create a better foundation for a long-lasting business relationship. The numbers support this conclusion, with the majority of today’s business professionals preferring in-person interactions to digital ones. There is no question – it is still important to cultivate in-person networking skills. The next step is improving your face-to-face exchanges.

 

In-Person Networking Tips

Networking in person can give you opportunities you would not have over social media alone. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you need a few networking tips to help you make the greatest impact. The amount of time you spend preparing for your in-person interaction can make a difference in its outcome. Set yourself up for success by embracing available tools, tips, and tricks. If you’re planning an in-person networking event or situation soon, keep the following in mind for optimal engagement:

1. Prioritize building trust and credibility. One of the greatest downfalls of communication over social media is not knowing who to trust. Establishing trust is possible through smart marketing content, but it gets much easier when you can meet someone in person.

Whether your goal is to get a new job or clinch an important sale, prioritize establishing trust between you and the other person. Do this by showing others your similarities in the time you have together. People tend to trust what they know more than what they don’t. Make human connections with people to earn their trust and strengthen the relationship.

2. Use positive emotions to your advantage. Logic can help form a buying decision, but emotions seal the deal. Face-to-face interactions give you the power of using emotions to your advantage. Be open and transparent with the other person, supporting your words with the appropriate facial expressions.

Make an emotional connection with the person, whether it’s fear, compassion, empathy, or having fun at a business event. Connecting with a prospect or professional on an emotional level improves your odds of having a lasting positive impact.

3. Let your personality shine. You have the opportunity to truly show the prospect what you’re like during face-to-face meetings. Don’t miss out. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique.

Show off your sense of humor, warmth, friendliness, and other traits that set you apart from other salespeople, brands, or job prospects. Let the other person see you’re more than just a social media profile – you’re a flesh-and-blood person who can check all the boxes of what they’re looking for.

In-person networking can be more daunting than an online interaction. You must put your best foot forward, or you could miss out on an important business opportunity. Everything must count, from the clothes you wear to the words you say. Pay special attention to body language, presence, and inflection during face-to-face meetings. Nail important aspects such as the first impression and initial handshake. Do your research, prepare talking points, and – most importantly – be yourself.

 

Improve Your Business Networking Skills Today

Whether you are a born social butterfly or you identify as an introvert, influence and persuasion training can help you. The training program at SNI helps participants influence others and the decisions they make. It focuses on credibility, emotion, and logic – Aristotle’s three elements to influence. It can help you become more persuasive and effective in your techniques during both in-person and social media interactions. Sign up today to start developing your networking skills.