Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 12, 2009

Guest Article: “Hidden Needs Drive Sales Negotiations,” by Dr. Jim Anderson

Filed under: Negotiation,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 6:55 am
Tags: , , ,

Hidden Needs Drive Sales Negotiations
by Jim Anderson

All sales negotiations are driven by both public and private needs. If you can understand and deal with the other side’s hidden needs, then you’ll have more power during the negotiation

It’s What Lies Below The Surface That Really Matters
When we enter into a sales negotiation, we like to kid ourselves that we know what the other side is looking to get out of the negotiation. At least on the surface, all sales negotiations look the same.

The easy-to-see desires of the other side generally come down to one of three things: money, goods, and / or services. This is what we can see and this is what we spend our time preparing to negotiate. However, that’s really only part of the story.

Knowledge Of Hidden Needs Boosts Your Power
I’m sure that you’re probably already agreeing with me that knowing the other side of the table’s hidden needs would be advantageous when you are getting ready to negotiate. However, did you know that this knowledge will increase your negotiating power?

Remember that power in a sales negotiation is a difficult thing to nail down. However, the more that you know about the other side and their hidden needs, then the more negotiating power you’ll have.

The Search For Hidden Needs
If we can all agree that identifying the other side’s hidden needs is a good thing, than all that is left for us to talk about is just exactly HOW you can go about doing that. The key is to have a good set of questions.

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself BEFORE you enter into a sales negotiation. Not every question will pertain to this specific negotiation and your list will evolve over time. Here’s a good set of questions for you to start asking yourself:

Do they want to make their lives easier?

Do they want to appear to be competent?

Do they want peace of mind?

Do they want to be listened to?

Do they want freedom of choice?

Do they want to keep their job?

Do they want recognition?

Do they want to be liked?

Final Thoughts
As you enter into a sales negotiation, you need to realize that the other side of the table probably has more hidden needs than they have publicly known needs. What this means for you is that the other side of the table won’t say “yes” to your requests until after at least some of their hidden wants have been fulfilled.

In the end, all negotiating is about making sure that you have enough power to be successful. One of the most important keys is to realize that we need to also address the other side of the table’s hidden needs in order reach an agreement that both sides can live with.

If you can learn to spot these hidden needs before you enter into your next negotiation, then you will be able to close better deals and close them quicker.

Dr. Jim Anderson has spent over 20 years negotiating everything from small sales with individual owners of companies to large scale military project contracts with teams of sales negotiators. Visit his The Accidental Negotiator blog.

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