How to create win-win situations in your sales pipeline
What's a win-win situation? The hint is in the name.
When sales reps close a deal, we want our prospects to be happy. But let's not sugarcoat it—we need to get what we want out of the deal as well.
Win-win situations are born out of collaboration. When you build a relationship with the prospect, listen to what they really want and get them to hear your side.
The days of quickly pitching a product, doing a 30-minute demo, and closing a deal are gone. You need to work for it.
Here are the nuts and bolts of what it takes to create win-win situations—and have both sides walk away happy.
Can you have your cake and eat it?
Win-win selling sounds great on paper.
You are happy. Your prospect is happy. What's not to like?
The first thing that I want to dig into with win-win situations is the misconceptions that come with this selling style. Sales reps think getting a win-win deal means dropping the price of their product or offering a discount right off the bat.
Let's stop right there.
Win-win situations are much deeper than that. They're not just compromises but the building blocks of a long-term relationship with a prospect. Sure, you can slash your price point or put the prospect on a grandfathered plan to close a deal quickly, but who is really winning in that scenario?
It's mainly your prospect.
Creating a win-win situation is about digging into the psychology of a deal and really understanding your prospect's needs. Rather than slashing your price, switch the script and demonstrate your product's ROI and that even when they pay full price, the prospect's business will come out on top.
This is an example of a win-win situation that you should aim for.
However, there are some mistakes that even the most seasoned sales reps make with win-win negotiations. Watch out for:
- A drawn-out negotiation: Time is money during a sales negotiation. Negotiating a win-win usually involves more work from both parties and prolongs the process. The longer the negotiation takes, the more revenue is stalled in your sales pipeline
- Misalignments: It's not always possible to create a win-win situation. Sometimes objectives and priorities just don't align, and it makes more sense to walk away or try another negotiating technique
- Offers that aren't reciprocated: Don't fall into the trap of offering too much to your prospect. It can backfire if you agree to give them something thinking that they'll put some skin in the game—and they don't. It'll tilt the deal in their favor and lead to a lose-win situation.
Time to get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to close a deal using win-win tactics 👇
How to create win-win situations with every deal
In all honesty, you can't always create a win-win situation. Sometimes the interests just don't line up. But you can always try, and in my experience it's possible to create a win-win far more often than not—even in negotiations where it seems like it's impossible at first!
Do your homework before picking up the phone
When you get a prospect on the phone, you can take it to the bank that they already know a lot about your product. 74% of B2B buyers do over half of their research into a purchase before they ever talk to a sales rep.
My question is—how much research have you done into your prospect?
Sales reps get caught out when they don't do their homework on a prospect. It's essential to begin the negotiating process knowing—at a bare minimum—what the prospect's company looks like and what problems they're having.
If you are booking meetings before you've done any basic research, your call is going to look like this:
Sales rep: "How big is your team right now?"
Prospect: "We're a startup, just a couple."
Sales rep: "Okay. What kind of products are you selling?”
Prospect: "It's a mix."
Sales rep: "Okay. Well, what do you specialize in?"
Prospect: "Well, it depends on what you are looking for."
Talk about wasted time.
The sales rep looks like they're doing all the right things and asking the right qualifying questions. But they should've gone into this first discussion already knowing the answers to these questions.
This is basic sales 101: "wow" a prospect in your first meeting by showing them that you've done your research into their business and understand their problems. Look at their website, check out their LinkedIn, browse their blog posts and product updates. Soak up anything that will give you a better idea about why your product will be useful to them.
If you do this, you're already halfway to earning their trust.
With trust comes compromise. And with compromise comes a win-win deal.
Think about what your prospect wants, ask questions, and learn
Don't assume that you know what's best for the prospect.
Ask them to tell you more about their problems or goals so you can get a better idea of why they want to buy your product in the first place. These open-ended questions are super important if you have several products or pricing plans, as learning more about their issues can help you recommend something that's a good fit.
Some prospects will be reluctant to share and put up a wall early in the negotiation. Break down that wall. Just ask them—how can I help you? What do you need?
If they start talking, let them. If they don't, ask them a leading question like:
- "How do you picture our product fitting into your workflow?"
- "Why is that feature important to you?”
- “What are your top priorities when using a tool like ours?”
This gets your prospect talking, and it's a great way to try and carve out some middle ground during a negotiation. If you can get them to really focus on their problem and show them that your product will actually solve it, you won't need to resort to tactics like cutting your price to close the deal.
Find out what your prospect is willing to give up
Prospects often come into a negotiation with a wall up. They may have a price that they're willing to pay in their head, and they won't go a penny over. Or they have convinced themselves that if your product doesn't have a certain feature—they're out.
Guess what: you have no idea what the prospect's dealbreakers are. But to negotiate a win-win situation, you need to find out.
Ask them something like:
"In an ideal world, what does this solution look like to you? What's non-negotiable, what's important, and what could you live without?"
This (gently) forces them to lay all their cards on the table.
Once you have an answer to all three, you can be honest with yourself about whether or not a win-win situation is possible.
If they want a 50% discount on the annual subscription of the contract, it's probably not going to happen. That sounds like a win-lose for you. But if they are worried about the length of a contract or if a specific feature is going to be developed, these are places where you can negotiate.
Always be honest with them about what you can do for them—and try to meet in the middle.
Flip the script and look at prospects as lifetime customers
Stop looking at your prospects as quick wins.
Think of them as lifetime customers that could potentially bring thousands of dollars into your company. If you do the hard work of building a relationship with them during the negotiation phase, it'll lay the foundation for them to stick with you for years.
This is where win-win negotiations can play a huge part in not just closing a deal but keeping it going long-term.
If you give the prospect whatever they want, like discounted pricing or free features for a year, they're already in the driver's seat. Once you try to move them back to your original pricing or make them pay for the features they got for free—they'll probably walk.
But if you are both on the same page from day one about what you can do for each other, there are no surprises.
Thinking like this brings a whole new meaning to you win some, you lose some.
Reimagine every prospect and calculate how much they'll be worth as a lifetime customer. I guarantee it'll stop you sweating about compromising on the small stuff.
Scratch your prospect's back—and they'll scratch yours
My advice about win-win situations?
Be smart about them and be realistic. Don't walk into every negotiation like a bull in a china shop, taking everything you can get. But don't give up too much right off the bat either—it may never be reciprocated.
Get your prospect talking and find out what's really important to them. Know what you're willing to negotiate and where you will draw the line. If you don't know the price at which you're happy to walk away, some prospects will eat you for lunch.
Think of every prospect in your funnel not as just a number but as a partner. If you can meet each other in the middle—there's a good chance they'll be with you for life 🙌