Sales negotiations can spark dread in even the most experienced salespeople. What if the prospect plays hardball, throwing you off your game? What if you think you’ve closed the deal, only for the potential buyer to suddenly want to talk about the details? Or, what if you believe you’ve settled the deal, only to find out the prospect doesn’t have the final say? Negotiating can be stressful, but it’s necessary for both parties to get what they need.

Sales contracts also ensure that new business relationships start off on the right foot. Since contracts are legally binding, negotiation gives both parties a chance to discuss their terms ahead of time, according to Flori Needle, a writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog.

Need a few reminders on how to negotiate like a pro? We share Needle’s top five strategies in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Understand your needs and objectives. In any negotiation, you should know what’s most important to you. What are your deal-breakers, and where do you have some flexibility? For example, you may have some wiggle room on certain terms of your contract, but you need to stay firm in other areas, like payment deadlines.

2. Ask questions. Negotiation requires a back-and-forth discussion, which means you should come prepared with questions. This helps you understand where your prospect stands with the current state of the contract, Needle says. You’ll get insight into their mindset, and the more you know about the reasoning behind their needs, the easier it will be for you to align your needs with theirs and vice versa.

3. Practice active listening. When you ask questions, don’t be thinking about how you want to respond. Make sure you are fully attentive and tuned into what the prospect is saying. If you jump in too quickly, the potential buyer may feel like you are not giving them a chance to express their concerns. And if you don’t actively listen, Needle says you may misinterpret something they say and not understand the motivation behind their needs.

4. Communicate clearly. Clear verbal and written communication are key components to successful contract negotiation, Needle says. When drafting your sales contracts, avoid complex language and technical terms. You should strive to make the contract as clear and concise as possible.

5. Be ready for discussion. Instead of entering a sales negotiation ready for battle, begin the conversation with an open mind. Needle says you may feel like keeping your guard up so you don’t end up with a contract that doesn’t benefit you, but if you are overly oppositional, you may derail the negotiation. You can remain firm where needed but remember there is a difference between being firm and being aggressive.

Knowing how to skillfully negotiate your sales contracts can lead to better results and better relationships with your clients. You can both get what’s most important and walk away with a win-win outcome. Before beginning your next negotiation, consider the five pointers above.

Source: Flori Needle is a writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog.