Sales Negotiation Skills Training for SaaS Professionals
The SaaS market is more competitive and budget-sensitive than ever. This environment has transformed sales cycles into detailed discussions, where negotiation skills are essential.
In this guide, we explore negotiation tactics that can help sales professionals differentiate themselves and close deals more effectively.
From demonstrating value to leveraging concessions, we’ll guide you through strategies to enhance your negotiation skills.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, you'll find something useful here.
Recommended Course: 👉 Get the same playbook used by the top 1% of sales practitioners today
Why Sales Negotiation Strategies Matter Today
A sales rep’s negotiation skills directly impact their success rate because they’re crucial to navigating the complexities of deals.
Your ability to negotiate lets you:
- Effectively address concerns
- Offer tailored solutions based on customer pain points
- Highlight your product’s value
- Establish trust
Skilled negotiators know how to confidently create win-win scenarios that increase the likelihood of closing deals. They can make their prospects more comfortable with buying decisions and build stronger business relationships.
And when buyers sign the deal happy, they’re way more likely to do business with you again and even recommend you to other people in their network.
This is what separates the good salespeople from the great ones.
Marshall Weil, Account Executive at FreeWill, attributes his record-breaking success to honed negotiation and sales skills.
His advice? Identify and bridge knowledge gaps within your team to foster unified, informed strategies, setting the stage for unprecedented sales achievements.
To become a top-seller like Marshall, start by identifying the gaps in your knowledge and your team’s so everyone’s on the same page.
Identifying Gaps in Your Negotiation Skills
As a sales manager, you need to pay attention to whether your team is effectively addressing objections, showcasing value, and finding common ground.
Make sure to gather continuous feedback from prospects and team members after negotiations to identify strengths and areas of growth better.
Here are some signs someone may need to work on their negotiation style:
- Conversion rates: This is the percentage of prospects who convert into customers. A low conversion rate could indicate that your team is not effectively addressing objections, showcasing value, or finding common ground with prospects.
- Discount rates: This is the percentage of discounts or concessions that your team offers to close deals. A high discount rate could indicate that your team is not confident in their value proposition or is not able to handle price concessions.
- Communication: This includes active listening, asking open-ended questions, using positive language, and expressing empathy. Poor communication can make it difficult to build rapport with prospects and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Once you recognize these signs, you’ll know how to provide feedback, coaching, and SaaS sales training courses to help them win in sales.
9 Fundamental Sales Negotiation Skills
1. Active Listening
Active listening is about making the other person feel heard and understanding their emotions, concerns, and desires. In a recent report, active listening was shown to improve sales performance by 8%.
Mirroring and labeling are two techniques that can help you practice active listening.
- Mirroring is repeating back the last words or the core idea of what the other person said. This shows that you're paying attention and that you understand what they're saying.
- Labeling is putting a name to the emotions that you sense the other person is feeling. This helps them to feel understood and validated.
By using these techniques, you can build trust and rapport with the other person, which can help you to have a more productive conversation.
Here is an example of how you could use mirroring and labeling in a conversation:
- Person 1: I’m really worried about the tight timelines on this project.
- Person 2: Tight timelines, got it. It sounds like you're feeling stressed about the time constraints.
This shows that Person 2 is listening to Person 1 and that they understand their concerns. It also helps Person 1 to feel heard and understood.
2. Emotion Management
In the negotiation process, emotions can steer the ship. The trick is not to suppress them but to use them to your advantage with emotion management.
Here are five tips for managing your emotions in negotiation:
- Be mindful. Take a moment to pause and center yourself before the negotiation begins. This will help you stay calm and focused.
- Be prepared. Do your research on the other party and the issue at hand. This will give you confidence and help you avoid surprises.
- Pause to reflect. If you start to feel emotional, take a step back and take a few deep breaths. This will help you calm down and think clearly.
- Be empathetic. Try to understand the other party's perspective and why they might be feeling the way they are. This will help you build rapport and find common ground.
- Use positive self-talk. Talk to yourself in a positive way and remind yourself that you can handle the situation. This will help you stay calm and confident.
Emotional intelligence allows you to read the room, sensing those shifts in sentiment, and turning them into opportunities.
3. Effective Questioning
Effective questioning is important in the discovery phase because it helps you uncover the actual challenges your buyers face, not your preconceived ones.
By asking open-ended questions, using active listening skills, and avoiding leading or biased questions, you can get to the heart of their decision-making and tailor your pitch to their core desires.
Here are some specific tips for asking effective questions in the discovery phase:
- Ask open-ended questions. This means asking questions that start with who, what, where, when, why, or how. These questions encourage the prospect to give you more detailed answers.
- Use active listening skills. This means paying attention to what the prospect is saying, both verbally and nonverbally. It also means paraphrasing what they have said to show that you understand them.
- Avoid leading or biased questions. These are questions that suggest a certain answer or imply a judgment. Leading or biased questions can make the prospect feel like they are being interrogated, which can make them less likely to open up to you.
- Probe beyond facts into emotions. Ask about the prospect's feelings, fears, and aspirations. This will help you understand their motivations and what is really important to them.
Lauren Wesley, Revenue BarRaiser at QuotaSignal, says learning how to ask the right questions helped her transform her sales approach. “Once I implemented what Chris taught, my deals got bigger and closed faster.”
👉 Recommended Reading: 39 Sales Discovery Call Questions for B2B SaaS Sellers | Pclub.io
4. Demonstrating Value
Value demonstration is about showcasing how your product precisely aligns with your client's needs and aspirations.
This not only bolsters your position but shifts the focus from cost to worth.
Because budgets are getting tighter and your prospects can have their pick from tons of other solutions out there. And some come with a cheaper price tag.
So how can you deal with competition in sales and win? By knowing what makes you different, “peeling back the onion” to find what’s most important to your customer, and redefining your value prop so their problem definition favors you.
5. Leveraging Concessions
Each concession should come with the intent of gaining something in return. Don’t just bend over backward to meet the demands of every client.
For example, if your customer asks for a custom legal term or a discount, you need to ask for something in return. Like a referral, payment upfront, or a case study. There needs to be a get for every give, a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties.
I go into more depth about this in the video below:
Want to lower your stress around concessions? Follow this framework:
- Know your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement): This is the minimum acceptable outcome for you, and it helps you set your walk-away point. Don't give concessions that would make you worse off than your BATNA.
- Know your customer's BATNA: This is the minimum acceptable outcome for them, and it helps you understand their motivation and leverage. Don't expect them to accept an offer that is worse than their BATNA.
- Plan your concessions in advance: Identify what you can give up and what you want in return. Prioritize your interests and rank your concessions from the least to the most valuable. Don't give away too much too soon or too easily.
- Be flexible and creative: Look for ways to create value for both parties by finding win-win solutions. Don't stick to rigid positions or demands.
6. Building and Leveraging Relationships
Trust makes it easier to overcome objections, handle price issues, and close the deal. If you want to build trust with prospects and start leveraging these relationships, you should:
- Start early: Lay the groundwork before negotiation talks even begin. Invest time in networking, connecting, and showing genuine interest in potential customers.
- Introductions and Connections: Leverage your network to make introductions. Tapping into advisors, consultants, and partners with access to the decision-makers can open doors like nothing else.
- Use Your Advocates: Identify your champions within the customer's organization. These advocates can speak on your behalf, vouch for your credibility, and help navigate internal dynamics.
7. Reading and Responding to Body Language
Before you start the negotiation, observe your prospect's normal or relaxed state of body language. This will help you notice any changes or deviations that indicate stress, interest, deception, or agreement.
Other ways to tap into body language include:
- Mirror and match: Mirroring and matching means subtly copying or mimicking your prospect's body language. This can help you build rapport, trust, and likability. However, be careful not to overdo it or make it obvious, as this can backfire and make you seem insincere or manipulative.
- Use open and confident gestures: These gestures are those that show your palms, expose your chest, and take up more space. These gestures can convey authority and confidence and make you feel more positive and assertive.
- Use positive facial expressions: These help you create a friendly and cooperative atmosphere. For example, you can use a genuine smile to show warmth and appreciation, a nod to show understanding and approval, and a raised eyebrow to show curiosity and interest.
8. Handling Objections and Pushbacks
Objections aren't necessarily roadblocks; they're opportunities. They're your chance to showcase your expertise, understand your prospect's concerns, and build a bridge to a successful deal.
Here’s how to handle pushback and use it to your advantage:
- Look at the big picture: Don’t go over each objection item by item until you have all of them on the table. Get all 'asks' out first.
- Understand the 'need behind the ask: Why are they asking for that? The more you know the more you can problem-solve and sit on their side of the table.
- Disarm the conflict before it even starts: Use labeling to acknowledge and validate the concern and get your buyer talking. Give your prospect a sense of control over the situation to get them more receptive to your counter.
- Don't give in on terms that are key to your business: Do this tactfully. Sometimes, buyers need to see where the 'bottom' is. Show them you're at your 'bottom.' Know your walk-away limit.
👉 Recommended Course: Handle objections like a top SaaS rep would by following this 7-step framework
9. Mastering the Follow-Up
You’ll rarely close a deal without following up with your prospects. In fact, 95% of closed-won deals took up to six calls.
To make your follow-up process even more effective, you should:
- Personalize your messages. Cookie-cutter follow-ups won't cut it. Reference specific points from your discussion to show you're invested and paying attention.
- Use solution-focused language: Keep the focus on solutions to their problems, not just the sale. Highlight how your offering aligns with their goals and specific challenges.
- Ask questions: First, see if the customer has any questions, and then ask your own to determine where they are in the sales process. You might find some objections that can be addressed or discover new pain points you didn’t know about before.
- Stay persistent, not pestering: There's a fine line between follow-up and nagging. Don't be afraid to follow up multiple times, but space it out and do it gracefully, with genuine interest.
- Offer value with every follow-up: Share relevant content or insights that can benefit them, even if it's not directly tied to your product. This positions you as a valuable resource.
Hone Your Skills with pclub’s Negotiation Training Program
A negotiation training program can equip your sales team to conquer deals like a pro and build long-lasting relationships based on trust. But not just any program will do it. You need a program, like pclub, with a proven success record.
Unlike other negotiation courses, which are created once and forgotten about, pclub’s curriculum is regularly updated so you have access to the latest and most effective negotiation tactics in sales.
Get access to expert instructor led courses by Chris Orlob, who grew Gong from $200k to $200M+ ARR and a $7.2B valuation — pclub’s tech sales training program offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers all the essential areas of tech sales.
So what will you learn exactly?
- The psychology of negotiation: We explore the different mindsets that people bring to negotiations, as well as the different strategies that can be used to influence the other party in the real world.
- Building rapport and trust: Pclub teaches you how to build rapport and trust with the other party during role play sessions, which can help to create a more positive and productive negotiation environment.
- Defining your BATNA: Pclub helps sales professionals identify their best alternative to a negotiated agreement, which can give them more bargaining power in the negotiation.
- Understanding the other party's needs: You’ll also learn how to identify your prospect’s needs, and the needs behind those, and how to use that information to their advantage in the negotiation.
- Presenting your offer: Learn how to present your offer in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner, and start growing your bottom line.
- Handling objections: Learn how to handle objections and pushback from your lead in a way that’s respectful and ends in a win-win outcome.
- Closing the deal: Finally, pclub helps you discover how to close the deal and secure a commitment from the other party.