As a Freight Agent, sales is a central part of your role. Throughout all the aspects of selling — lead generation, cold calling, lead nurturing, negotiating, and closing the sale — it is essential to focus on two areas. First, and most importantly, selling the value you bring. Second, building a relationship. When you focus on these two elements, your time in negotiation will decrease, and ideally, your profits will increase. With these two elements in mind, prepare for a better negotiation by considering these five questions and these five tips!
Before Negotiation: 5 Questions
Before preparing for negotiation, ensure you are building a relationship with the right person in the company. Do they actually have decision-making power? If not, seek to develop a relationship with the person in the company who does. When you are approaching negotiation, be prepared by clearly defining the answers to these questions.
- “What is the urgency of the other person?” If the other person has an urgent need to be met, they are more than likely eager to move forward quickly and have less interest in relationship-building. Be aware if the person is only focused on their bottom line and not interested in negotiation. Conversely, if they do not have urgency, it may not be the best time to negotiate. In such a case, consider ways to build a sense of urgency by being aware of their pain points and how you are the best solution.
- “What are the other person’s pain points?” Have you taken the time to research their business? Have you asked insightful questions and listened to the other person? If you have, you already have a clear answer to this question and can speak to their pain points with ease. If you have not, take the time to ask the other person and listen well.
- “As a result of working together, how will the other person benefit?” Have a clear answer for this question as it focuses on the value you bring. Stand out from your competition with a clear, confident answer! This could be your accessibility (such as 24/7 support), your cutting-edge technology, your reputation of consistency and integrity, your years of experience in the business, your business’ solid roots, how your business runs efficiently, your on-time deliveries, and so on. Be prepared to share a way in which you solved a customer’s problem and the way it benefited their business. Also, consider the ways you will foster customer satisfaction.
- “What is the strength of the relationship I have built with the other person?” If you do not have a strong relationship with the other person, your negotiation may not be fruitful. A strong relationship fosters trust! Actions and consistency support or hinder that trust! Consider the ways you have fostered trust with the other person and if you have not done so, have a clear answer to show the ways you have been trusted by other customers. Consider the ways you have found common ground with this person so you can relate to him or her.
- “How am I perceived by the other person?” This is subjective as you cannot read a person’s mind; however, consider your best character qualities and personality traits and make sure to focus on those. Be authentic and make certain those aspects come across naturally and clearly.
During Negotiation: 5 Tips
Since you have taken the time to prepare before a negotiation, you are in great shape to move forward. Next, implement these five tips to improve your negotiation success.
- Know your value. Since you are prepared, you have a solid answer to the third question above. Differentiate yourself from your competitors by clearly, briefly, and firmly stating what sets you apart. Communicate the value you bring and demonstrate how it will ultimately save money, ease their stress and assist in building their reputation. This is a high value. If you do this well, you show you are an industry leader and worthy of your rate.
- Sell yourself. While you know your value, it is essential to remember you are not just selling your business, you are actually selling yourself. Since you are prepared, you have a solid answer to the fourth question above. You already have common ground with the other person, you can relate to them, you know how to make them feel understood. You are trusted. If you do this well, you show you are the best, and worthy of your rate.
- Listen. Since you have prepared an answer for the second question above, you have already asked insightful questions before this stage. It is important to continue to ask questions and have a listening ear during negotiation as well. You want the other person to feel heard and understood. If you do this well, you show you care, and are worthy of your rate.
- Be solution-oriented. The best way to show your value is to show how you will solve their pain points. Make certain you are selling a solution that is in the other person’s best interest. Your ability to clearly describe your solution to their problem may be the definitive moment in the negotiation as they decide if your solution will be best for them. However, if you truly can’t provide the right solution, do not promise something you cannot deliver. It would be better to part ways than to over-promise and under-deliver. Genuine integrity will make you stand out above your competitors, even if you lose the sale now.
- Be confident. When you focus on the value you bring, make certain you are confident. Never speak negatively about your competitors or customers. Be prepared to leave your emotions out of the conversation and don’t take comments personally. If you find your emotions rising or your confidence decreasing, remember the power of breathing and smiling, keeping your shoulders back, and your head up.
If you take the time to focus on your value and build a relationship throughout each interaction with a potential customer, you will likely decrease your negotiation time. Be prepared for a successful negotiation by asking yourself the above five questions and then use those answers to enter into a negotiation with the above five tips. At Kopf, we support our Independent Freight Agents so they can accelerate their success!
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