What Sales Reps Can Learn From Great Negotiators

Learn why trust is the key to a good negotiation, why the same is true for sales, and how social selling can foster it.

December 19, 2016

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In a negotiation, 40% of people believe themselves to be cooperative and trustworthy—while they tend to view the other party as just looking for a win, according to research by management professor Karen S. Walch.  

In other words, people often don’t trust each other. That’s despite the fact that negotiators and academics argue that establishing trust is the key to a positive outcome on both sides.

The same basic tenet happens to be true of sales: fostering trust is the key to sealing a new deal. The good news is that social selling—the science and art of fostering relationships online with prospects—is a key way to build trust. Read on to discover why.

How Negotiators Foster Trust (And How Sales Reps Can Too)

Though there are many tactics negotiators can use to build trust, a few are particularly applicable to sales reps in the era of social selling. Let’s review three key negotiating tactics to earn trust and discuss how reps can apply each one in their daily grind.

1. Discuss the need for a “spirit of cooperation” out loud

Professional negotiator Keld Jensen has found that just saying these words out loud is game-changer in setting the tone towards profitable deal-making.

When it comes to the sales process, you should carry out your first and second meetings with a potential client as brainstorming sessions, while spending most of your time listening. By doing so, you show that buyer that you are focused on his or her needs and that the process of providing them with solutions is collaborative.

2. Speak their language

In a negotiation, knowing your counterpart’s lingo earns you credibility. In sales, “speaking their language,” means not only being fluent and well-read on your prospective buyer’s, but also knowing the prospect’s paint points, products, past successes, and their power structure. Getting all of this right leads to earning trust—and getting it wrong could lose it for you.

To conduct this research, you have loads of sources, including LinkedIn profiles, tweets, posts that prospects have written, and their personal or company blogs; all of these enable you to learn about their worldview, values, and experience.

3. Manage your reputation

While a bad reputation can be a deal-killer, according to Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra, “a great one can help transcend an impasse.”

In sales, a good reputation – including a tip-top LinkedIn profile, glowing endorsements, strong case studies, and clients who want to rave about you—begins to earn you trust from the get-go.

Keeping Trust Over Time via Social Selling

As you can see, when it comes to the tactics of social selling, there are so many ways to foster trust right off the bat. But you should continue to build trust over time. You can do this by showing how much you value buyers’ success in the current deal you’re targeting and staying engaged in their industry.

Some of the trust-building tools available to you include commenting on social media posts with your own unique takes, keeping your socials accounts updated, and joining and participating in groups on LinkedIn and other networks.

All of this activity shows that you’re working towards a broader purpose than your own sales numbers—leading buyers to see that you’re not only in it for the win. The trust you establish will be the foundation for many deals to come.

For more social selling tactics from leaders who have achieved results, download our free eBook: Proven Strategies From the World’s Top Sales Professionals