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4 negotiating tactics advisors need to watch for

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Negotiating the details of a sale can be a complex process and one that many salespeople fail at because they are not aware of tactics commonly used by buyers and decision makers. Here are four to watch for and the most effective way to respond to each one.

1. The flinch. This is a visible reaction to an offer or price to try to make the other person feel uncomfortable about the offer they suggested. The buyer will demonstrate shock and surprise and might say something like, “Wow, that’s expensive.” I have seen salespeople recoil by immediately offering a discount or trying to justify their price. A more effective way to respond is to remain calm and say nothing. Or, just smile gently and ask, “Compared to what?”

2. Higher authority. This sounds like: “I’m going to have to check with my boss/wife/colleague on that.” Savvy sellers have a few options. The first is to deal directly with the final decision maker whenever possible. If that isn’t possible, try appealing to their ego. “I understand the importance of checking with Mr. Big. Tell me, does he usually accept your recommendations?” Make sure to keep your tone of voice neutral and your body language non-confrontational.

3. Good cop, bad cop. In this tactic, one buyer plays the role of the bad cop and often shows disgust or anger during negotiating to put the seller on edge. At one point they usually leave the room and the other buyer says in a friendly or soft tone, “George is really frustrated; I’ve never seen him like this. Is there anything you can do to help me with this?”

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4. The vise. This starts with the buyer saying, “You’ll have to do better than that.” Ask the buyer, “Exactly how much better do I have to do?” Sometimes the prospect gives you a target, but smart buyers often say, “Well, better than what you have suggested.” Hold your ground and repeat, “Exactly how much better do I have to do?” You may sound like a broken record, but it is often effective for gaining an idea of what concession the buyer is looking for.

I strongly suggest you practice these with colleagues before you use them with a prospect. This will improve your delivery and bolster your confidence in an actual negotiation.

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Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations, so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at Robertson speaks at conferences, sales meetings and association events. For information, contact him at 905-633-7750 or [email protected].