Sales and negotiation aren’t the same thing.

They’re sister skills, and a lot of the same talents that’ll make you great at one (courage, asking good questions, really listening to the answers) will make you great at the other.

But they’re different.

Think of it this way:

Sales = dating and getting down the aisle.

Negotiation = building the marriage.

Sales is all about addressing a need or desire in a potential client, and convincing them that yours is the right solution to whichever problem they’re having.

  • Website stuck in the ‘00s? Your design package will get that baby converting.
  • Copy stiff and typo-ridden? Your editing work will have the right words leaping off the page.
  • Carrying around those extra 10lbs from a decade ago? Your nutritional plans and done-for-you meal service will get them slimmed down hassle-free.

All of which is great. After all, we need sales to keep our businesses going. No sales. No business. Can’t skip this skill.

But just hitting sales targets doesn’t mean that your business is healthy, or that you’ll be very happy in your day-to-day as an entrepreneur.

That’s where negotiation comes in.

Once you’ve tapped into the need or desire, and the new customer or client is all aboard with signing up to work with you, negotiation is how you define what that relationship is going to look like. It’s the answer to the question:

“We’re going to do business together! Now what…?”

Negotiation is how you’ll sort out the nitty gritty, including:

  • How much the client will be paying
  • When they’ll be paying and how
  • Exactly what work you’ll deliver, when and in what format
  • What happens if something goes wonky (because something nearly always goes wonky…)

Sales gets you to a point in time – the money changing hands and a client being ‘won’. Negotiation is what makes for a healthy finances and strong relationships long after that Buy Now button is pressed.

You’ll use those skills to navigate tricky discussions when you and your client disagree about the direction of a project. They’ll come in handy when scope creep takes over and you need to get boundaries back in place to save your sanity. You’ll even use negotiation to earn more from each sales by increasing your revenue and shaving down expenses over the lifetime of a contract.

Honing your negotiation skills means that you can make a sale, and then make sure it’s hitting all of your financial, energy and operational sweet spots from there on out.