5 Trust-building tactics to help you win in any negotiation

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

                                                                                        – George Macdonald

One of the most valuable skill any of us can acquire in these challenging times is to employ the power of negotiation. All negotiations involve risks. Nonetheless, we do this constantly. We attempt to get a yes and reach mutual agreements with others. Whether it’s convincing your kids to eat vegetables or persuading a buyer to purchase your offer. The most important harbinger to a negotiation is trust. For without trust, no deal will ever materialize. That’s why establishing trust early on is crucial.

Below are five(5) tactics to help you build trustworthiness:

1. Show your competency.

Digital Camera

Nowadays, demonstrating your skills and expertise to your clients won’t move the needles. With the plethora of competitors (ex. web development and hosting providers) around, almost all of them can do what you do. Competition is getting tougher and tougher. You need to convince your clients that it is to their utmost interest to buy from you. In situations like this, knowing some negotiation techniques will come in handy.

When you need to prove that you are the better option, you have to be ready with the information and tools to counter offer. Focus on the benefits. Prepare a list of answers to address the question, “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM). From the list you made, trim it down. Pick out one or two benefits that only you can provide, and use this as your unique offering.  Let’s call this, your Core Competency.

Dictionary definition:

Core com·pe·ten·cy (noun)

  • A defining capability or advantage that distinguishes a company from its competitors.
  • A defined level of competence in a particular job.

In my own definition, Core competency is,

“ Something that you have that others down have.”

It may be a skill, a tool, a resource or a rare type of service. As long as you are the only one who can do this particular task, using your unique skill.  By demonstrating your unique strengths, it is easier for people to trust and buy from you.

2. Do what you promised you are going to do.

In any negotiations, you build trust when you keep your promises and honor your commitments. Nothing is more unprofessional than making deceiving promises for people to buy your services. You need to be transparent and learn to manage customer expectations. I learned a lot about these know-hows during the early part of my selling career as a Corporate Cards salesperson at American Express.

When you say that you will deliver a product in one week, do whatever it takes to give it in one week. When you say you’ll offer a 10% discount, make sure the client gets the 10% discount. Not 5%, not 8% but exactly as promised, give the 10%. Each time you fulfill a promise, you communicate a message that you are a trustworthy individual. Over time, your record of reliability will bring big business to your company. It is a determining factor for repeat business.

3. Shut up and Listen.

You won’t believe it. Many sales people will come to a meeting and start ranting the moment they finish shaking hands with a prospective client. They do this when they are nervous and when their bosses are around during the meeting. It’s like an audio recording of a script that plays automatically, non-stop. Nobody likes a voluble sales person especially when the client is busy, which most of the time they are. A better tactic is to relax and listen. Hear what they are saying and assess when is the best time to throw your jabs. There’s a saying in sales that “He who talks first loses.” What you need to do is to present your offer, then shut up and wait! Be silent. And usually, the one who talks first, loses the negotiation. Hiring Managers use this same tactic during job interviews. They call it, “The Pregnant Pause.” It goes the same as defined above. By using these tactics, you have a better opportunity to build trust and close more sales.

4. Be honest – even when it costs you.

We often send proposals and billings to our clients. Once in a while, we carry out discrepancies in computations, typo errors or sometimes inaccuracies in the content itself. When you commit a mistake, admit it immediately. Apologize promptly, correct the lapses and offer a resolution. Depending on the degree of inconvenience you’ve caused, you can give the client some form of token(ex. a month of free web hosting) to help pacify the situation.

I had a case when I was working for an IT company during the 90’s; we delivered about 20 units of high-end PC servers to one of the biggest watch manufacturing company in the Philippines. After the installation and a few minutes of use, the servers exploded (it sounded like a small triangular firecracker exploding, non-destructive though) and all you see is a thick cloud of smoke emitted by the machine. This incident caused chaos and it has marred my company’s reputation. Nevertheless, I took responsibility; I apologized profusely for the mishap, and I escalated the case to the headquarters. I was lucky to resolve it promptly. After conducting an initial investigation, we eventually found out that it was a batch manufacturing issue. Faulty capacitors were installed in on the motherboards. After that, all the servers were pulled out and was replaced by a new batch of servers. Due to the gravity of the case, our company President had to fly-in and made amends with the client. He also apologized in person. Consequently, we gave them two units of high-end laptops as a token gesture of our sincerity. It ended up as a great experience for both parties. They became one of the most valued clients in my territory, contributing a significant amount revenue to my pipeline each year.

5. Dress to “Bill”

Let’s be real. People judge a book by its cover. You are more likely to do business with a dapper than from a dowdy dresser. There’s an expression that says, “Dress to Bill.” Always look sharp. This simple desire to look neat will help you close the deal faster and bill a client with ease.

Practice proper hygiene(comb your hair, brush your teeth, cut your fingernails, shave) before a meeting. Ensure that you are well-dressed(wear a neatly ironed shirt, a beautiful pair of suit and shoes, a matching belt). Project a professional image (carry a good posture, use a clear, confident voice, use a careful choice of words, eye-to-eye contact). And above all, make sure that you smell pleasant. How enjoyable it is to talk to a person who smells good even from afar. A tinge of cologne or perfume would do the trick. Just make sure that you don’t over do it. Wearing too much perfume, will distract everybody’s attention.

When you present yourself as a person who is always well-groomed, people would love to buy from you. Selling is like dating a gorgeous lady. You won’t get a yes if you smell like a skunk.

Are you a stylish dresser? Do you wear a suit during meetings? Do you like navy’s or gray? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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