Negotiating a large sale of your books with a professional corporate buyer is not easy, particularly when you are not experienced at dealing with them. The 15 tips described over the next three blog entries will help you navigate the variety of personalities and circumstances with which you will have to deal, now that you have made the transition from publisher to consultant.
For example, some buyers may recognize you negotiating naiveté and try to take advantage of it. They might say, “We may use coffee mugs for this campaign. If you will match the price of the mugs we might do business with you.” Inexperienced authors/consultants may drop their price quickly to get the order. The tips described below will help you turn these tables so you do not leave money on them.
Special-market sales create profitable opportunities for authors who are just entering this unfamiliar world. Skillful bargaining matters most when there is a broad range of possible outcomes. If you utilize these 15 hints you can improve your ratio of book sales to negotiating meetings. Here are the first five of 15 tips:
- Chemistry is crucial. Buying decisions are made on a rational and emotional basis. In addition to giving buyers facts, give them a good feeling about you. People buy from people they like and trust. When you do anything during the negotiation that diminishes your likeability you reduce your chances of success. It is more than being polite, it’s about managing tension. Close the sale on terms equitable to both sides without seeming greedy, and be persistent without being a nuisance.
- Help buyers justify the value of your proposal. When you conquer the emotional side of the buying equation, buyers still need a rational motive to buy if for no other reason than to validate their purchase to themselves or to a supervisor. Your proposal can serve this purpose so they “see everything in writing.”
- Confirm that you can do what you say you will do. Your prospects may never have heard of you, your book or your publishing company. In the back of their minds they may be wondering if you have the ability to do the requisite customization, ship the books on time or conduct the follow up necessary to complete the order process (not just get the order). Can you deliver additional books with high quality if needed on short notice? Give them reasons to believe you can do what you say you can through testimonials, endorsements and case histories.
- Understand the people with whom you are dealing. Companies do not negotiate, people do. Before the negotiation, learn as much as you can about the people who will be involved – not just the decision makers but also the decision influencers.
- Realize they may have limits. You may make a powerful and logical case for buying a large quantity of your books, and the buyers may still refuse to purchase them. They may have budget constraints or pending personnel changes may limit their choices. Discover where they have some flexibility and revise your proposal accordingly. Bring up non-price issues to create a total package that is more palatable to their circumstances.
In the next post in this series, I’ll go into the strategy you can implement based on your knowledge of the people involved in the negotiation.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org – formerly SPAN). He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com twitter.com/bookmarketing