Selling is like Managing a Baseball Game
Whether you are in a transactional situation where you are selling a product to a walk-in customer or in a relational situation where you are trying to land a large account, the negotiation is process is much like a baseball game.
Transactional Scenario: You are a car salesman on the showroom floor of an automobile dealership. In walks a couple who is browsing through and checking out the cars. You walk up to them and start a conversation. During the exchange, you find out that they are going to buy a car and have some requirements with the car type that they want. You suggest a particular car that meet their criteria. You note the body language of both as they look over the car and note some interest. You then suggest that they take it for a test-drive. They drive it around and come back. You sit down in a table and start negotiating. They want to bring the price down, you want to keep it as high as possible. When it looks like you are close, they still insist on getting the price even lower or they will walk. You then throw in a couple of incentives like free mats or free oil change for the first year. They seem happy and you close the deal.
Relational Scenario: You are an account manager for a large informational system firm. You are trying to sell a package to a large client. Landing the business will generate revenues for years for your company. You setup a meeting where you first try to gauge what they are looking for in a system. You make notes and based on their needs, you put together a package that fits their requirements. You determine who are the key decision makers and who are the support groups and deal with them accordingly. You pitch the technical aspects to the support groups and make sure they are satisfied. You wine and dine the key decision makers to build that important relationship. You finally sit down to negotiate. They start to haggle over price and you come back with some guarantees such as 24 hour support to making sure that the system never goes down. Based on the relationship that you developed plus the buy-in from the support group, you land the business.
In both scenarios, the key moment is the close. Like a closer in baseball that is trying to protect the lead going into the final inning, you are trying to go for the win. If the closer fails, he loses the lead and the game. In both scenarios, early on, you are developing the business and bring it to a point where the party is still engaged. No different in a baseball game in that you are making sure that the game is close and is not a runaway. Then you get to where the discussion leads the clients to gaining more interest and you are setting up for the close. Again in baseball especially late in the innings, the starting pitcher is replaced by the setup pitcher to maintain that lead. Then finally, in both scenarios, you go for the close