Most people will agree that a successful negotiation results in a ‘win-win’ from the perspective of the buyer and the seller. To create a win-win outcome, the seller needs to know the buyer’s issues and their buying criteria so that value can be positioned effectively to meet (or exceed) the buyer's needs.
Whether formally or informally, a buyer will rank order their buying criteria. Consider buying a house. Most buyers have a pre-determined set of criteria. A good salesperson will take time to uncover the buyer’s priorities. For example, a seller might learn that location may be the most important criteria for the buyer, followed by price, the age of the home, quality of kitchen and bathrooms, and number of bedrooms. A seller who can help a buyer find the dream home that most closely meets the buyer's criteria, often with some compromise or trade-off along the way, will usually make the sale.
In business, rank ordering buyer's criteria is an important step for a salesperson. First rank ordering involves identifying the buyer’s issues. Answering the Consequences of No Agreement (CNA) question will to help to do this. A good salesperson needs to take this list of issues further. The next step is to prioritize the list from the buyer’s perspective – a simple high/medium/low rank order is sufficient. Now this list has actually become the buyer’s decision criteria, rank ordered. This is important information in any buyer-seller discussion.
Next, the salesperson needs to consider their solution(s) and identify how well their solution(s) addresses the buyer’s issues. Particular attention is to be paid to how well the seller solution addresses the high and medium ranked buyer decision criteria.
Validating rank order with the buyer is a powerful way to change the usual conversation with the buyer and an effective way for salespeople to continue to build credibility. Validation helps a salesperson reveal mutually beneficial trades. Rank ordering the buyer’s criteria helps a seller be fully prepared for an exchange of value discussion that results in a win for both sides, winning on the issues that are most important to each side.