“You’ll have to do better than that.” Ever heard those words after quoting a price or submitting a proposal to a prospect? Smart business people know these words can yield great results, because they often strike fear in a salesperson’s mind. But here’s the thing: It’s just a negotiating tactic.

“The vise” is a subtle — OK, maybe not quite so subtle — way of getting someone to improve their price, offer a discount or make some other type of concession. And, it’s effective because many salespeople automatically go back to the drawing board to recalculate their numbers, returning with a better price, additional options or other concessions.

However, there is a much more effective way to respond to a question such as this: “Exactly how much better do I have to do?” There are two essential things about using this response successfully: the word “exactly” and the willingness to repeat the question several times.

Here’s why: Smart buyers will seldom tell you what they want to see in that next number, so they will say something such as, “Well, better than this” or “It’s got to be lower than your first quote.” This means you need to be willing to repeat the phrase. “Exactly how much better do I have to do?”

Smart negotiators won’t reveal what they want after one or two attempts, but many will cave in after the third or fourth. In some cases, you may need to say “I know I need to come back with a better price, but without knowing what you’re looking for, we could still end up miles apart. Exactly how much better do I have to do?”

Your goal is to get your prospects to reveal what they are looking for. This will help you determine:

  • If it makes sense to continue negotiating,
  • Whether or not their expectations are unrealistic and
  • What to quote next.

Knowing how to respond to the vise can make a significant difference in your sales and profitability.

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