September '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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1 0 P R I N T W E A R S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 9 Your Personal Business Trainer V i n c e D i C e c c o BUSINESS MANAGEMENT ARE YOU PREPARED FOR WHEN CUSTOMERS HAGGLE? Negotiate Without Losing Your Shirt Y ou know, there are times when sales professionals don't realize that they've been drawn into the vortex of arm-twisting and blood sucking by a cunning customer. I fear many decorated-apparel business owners are unaware that their sales representatives are negotiating on behalf of the company, and potentially leave gobs of money on the table because of a severe skill deficiency in this area. For that matter, many business owners themselves have not been properly schooled as to how to enter and emerge from a grueling negotiation with more than they expected and a satisfied customer to boot. I am not a huge proponent of entering negotiations with just any customer or prospect. The art and science of negotiation should be reserved for high-volume customers, when, if the relationship and deal should fall apart, both sides end up losing. Or, for that very lucrative opportunity when the customer needs to feel they've made the right decision with a supplier that will work with them. Ultimately, successful negotiations depend on the amount of time and effort in the planning both vendor and customer invest, as well as each individual's commitment to working toward a win-win outcome. Failure to plan and/or entering negotiations with a "we'll win, they'll lose" approach dooms the entire process from the get-go. Let's first state the four criteria that must be met before entering a supplier-client negotiation, and then explore the viable alternatives and the order in which they should be considered at the negotiation table. Let's roll, shall we? THE FOUR CRITERIA Negotiations are a subset of selling. All ne- gotiations are a form of selling, but not all selling efforts should involve negotiation. A sale is an agreement to pay a price—or pro- vide comparable value—in return for de- liverables under specified or implied terms and conditions. I drive into a gas station, see the advertised price for a gallon of fuel on the gas pump, swipe my credit card, and dispense gasoline into my SUV. When I am done, I replace the nozzle, replace the gas cap, collect my receipt, and drive off. No negotiating took place in that sale. But let's say I then drive to a car dealer- ship to look at this year's new models. In mere seconds, I am intercepted by an as- sertive salesperson. "She's a beaut, isn't she? What would it take for you to drive her home today?" In this scenario, we have the ultimate example of premature negotiation. What was different between these two sales situations? The price of the car was clearly displayed on the sticker. I can rea- sonably determine the value relative to the price. I know I would have to abide by the terms and conditions of the loan, should I need to finance the vehicle. Thus, the an- swer to the question is that there was really no difference in the two scenarios. The dif- ference was the salesperson's assumption that I was disagreeable to the sale. It may not be that extreme among your sales team, but are they volunteering price concessions whenever the client takes a quick moment to think about it? Too of- ten, salespeople misinterpret silence as re- jection of the offer, when, in fact, all the customer may be doing is trying to figure

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