“The customer is always right is a concept invented by a customer” is the beginning of a sentence of an anonymous Internet user, which has become increasingly viral and shared by anyone who works in contact with customers. On the other hand, it is the concept to which we appeal when we are the customer and we have an argument with a seller. But is it really so? We are convinced not, with the right negotiation strategies it is possible to find a so – called “win-win” agreement for both parties, regardless of the characteristics of your interlocutor.
We all negotiate every day. Most of our time is devoted to an attempt to reach agreements with other people. We almost always try to negotiate with a collaborative spirit but we almost always get frustrated. We want to get affirmative answers but often the answer that our ears hear is a resounding NO.
Negotiating does not mean just sitting around a table discussing a controversial situation. It is that activity in which we are engaged whenever we try to get something from someone else.
To use the words of the American negotiating expert,
“Negotiation is that process of communicative exchange aimed at reaching an agreement with other people when there are some shared and other opposing interests”
In times like today, in business, negotiation can take on extremely difficult contours: it seems that the customer always has the infamous “knife on the side of the handle” and, despite all your efforts, the result you get is the opposite of that that you set yourself before the meeting.
Arms folded, short answers and defensive attitude are all signs that indicate the client’s frustration. They are clear and unmistakable messages that show how this person is losing interest in what you have to say, endangering the potential deal.
So is it true that the customer is always right? The obstacles to cooperation
Each of us wants to be appreciated. We all feel the need to get along with other people. And in many aspects of life this is a good thing.
But it is precisely this instinct, this need to be appreciated that creates problems during a negotiation. There is always the temptation to make sure that the other party appreciates you. And the more the interlocutor is firm about his own positions, the more this temptation becomes evident to him.
It is very easy to get involved in a sort of “emotional battle” with the client by keeping our ideas and positions rigid with the sole purpose of getting the better of what, at that moment, seems like an “adversary”.
According to the major negotiating experts, the main obstacles to cooperation are 5, which we see listed below.
- Your reaction. The first obstacle concerns us, or rather our reaction. As we have said, negotiating involves a significant amount of stress. And when you are under stress, you feel under attack and you tend to react impulsively, exposing your weakness that leads you to lose the game
- Your customer’s reaction. Convinced always of being right and you in the wrong position, the customer could refuse to listen to you and use unpleasant tactics to get themselves in the lead
- Your client’s position. That is the tendency of people to remain on their own positions and ideas, forcing you to surrender in order to complete the agreement
- Your customer’s dissatisfaction. Even if you are looking for a win-win solution for both of you, your caller may not see how positive this is for him
- The power of your client. If the client sees the negotiation as a struggle where there must be a winner, he will use his power to come out victorious.
To overcome customer resistance, it is necessary to overcome each of these five obstacles. You must not aim for customer appreciation but your respect. Let’s see how to get it.
5 negotiation strategies when dealing with difficult clients
First of all, prepare yourself
The preparation before a negotiation is the element that counts more than any other. It is a particularly true concept when you know that your caller will be a tough guy and will try to get in trouble most of the time. With the concept of arriving prepared we first of all understand the client’s motivations. Many times they will not be immediately recognizable so you have to concentrate on listening actively to what the customer has to say to you.
Only then, identify your expectations, what you want to achieve and what are the conditions where you consider the result achieved. If you don’t know what you want you can’t hope to get it.
Once you have identified the first two points, the client’s motivations and your negotiation expectations, develop a strategy. In this post we want to tell you five that you can apply right away
Strategy 1: do not react
The most natural thing to do when a confrontation becomes difficult is to react without thinking. The most common reactions are mainly:
- Fight back
- Give up
But each of these will not lead to a positive response. Rather than acting on impulse and, if necessary, take some time to rethink and reformulate your solution. The customer may have taken you out of exhaustion and you would like to finish the conversation as soon as possible, but instead of giving it up on the spot and giving it what it wants or infuriating you by fueling a conflict, use your time to develop an agreement that also meets your interests. Notify the customer that you will meet again later, in a few days’ time where you will re-present yourself with a new solution designed to best conclude the negotiation.
Strategy 2: listen actively
Too often negotiations are situations in which, while subject A is talking, subject B is focused on what he will have to say once his turn comes. In this context both parties will come to the conclusion that they have not been heard and will repeat their arguments endlessly.
Listening to someone is a very powerful weapon: meet the needs of your client and take the reins of the negotiation with the power to change it. The best strategy is to make yourself available to the person you are negotiating with. It will be more difficult for your interlocutor to be hostile towards you if you listen to him and recognize what he says and how he feels. It is easier to be willing to listen to someone who has listened to you in turn.
Strategy 3: Ask the right questions
Once you have created a climate conducive to negotiation, the time has come to resolve the problem and make the interests of both parties. Often, however, you find yourself in front of an almost insurmountable wall, the client feels entitled to be right by taking the issue on staff.
The easiest way to focus attention on the problem is to talk about it. But affirming something could put the customer even more defensive. The best approach is to ask questions: don’t give definitive answers, rather ask questions that raise the problem you are going to solve together. Questions of this kind focus on the interests of both, paving the way for cooperation between the parties to leave the matter behind.
Strategy 4: engage your client
Look beyond obvious appearances and solutions when negotiating an agreement. The first thing to do is to involve your client in creating the final agreement. You understand what his “hidden” needs are: they could be, for example, the desire for moral recognition or fulfillment. Or make him feel comfortable if you change his starting position, make him see your deal as a victory for himself first.
Strategy 5: aims for mutual satisfaction
To create an agreement that lasts over time and that makes you professional in the eyes of the customer, do not impose the solution, but show the customer the possible consequences of a failed agreement. Help him to find the most convenient choice for him … which will also be the most convenient for you!
Have you ever found yourself having to negotiate or solve a problem with a difficult customer? How did you deal with the situation? What was the result?
Eric wood is the online marketer and expert author as well as the Wikipedia expert. He has independent Wikipedia page creation service in India and online marketing agency that offer the specialized content writing solution, digital marketing guides and brand management as well as professional Wikipedia editing.