Negotiating the details of a sale can be a complex process and one that many sales people fail miserably at because they are not aware of key tactics that are commonly used by buyers and decision makers. Here are five negotiating tactics you need to watch for and the most effective way to respond to each one.
The Flinch. The flinch is a visible reaction to an offer or price and it is designed to make the other person feel uncomfortable about the offer they suggested. An effective flinch uses a combination of verbal language and non-verbal body gestures. A common flinch sounds something like this:
“You want how much?!? Wow! That’s expensive!”
While this exclamation is being expressed the buyer will demonstrate shock and surprise on their face and body language. I have seen sales people recoil from this tactic and immediately offer a discount or begin to justify their price. That is the intention of the buyer when they use this tactic.
A more effective way to respond is to remain calm and say nothing. Another response is to smile gently and say, “Compared to what?”
Higher Authority. Everyone who negotiates should have a higher authority and wise decision makers know that. Higher authority sounds like this:
“I’m going to have to check with my boss 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, respond by 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.
Also, it’s important to recognize that higher authority may not be a person. Here’s what I mean.
A few years ago I was buying six dress shirts from a men’s fashion store. I used to work in men’s clothing so I know that there is a healthy mark-up on shirts so I asked the sales person, “What discount can you give me?” He rejected my request but I pursued it further and asked two or three more times. Eventually, he pointed to the computer and said, “Sir, I’d love to give you a discount but the computer won’t let me.” It wasn’t until I was driving home that I remembered that there is usually a manual method to input discount on computers.
Sellers should also this tactic before they agree to a concession by saying, “I’m not authorized to do that so let me check with my business partner and I’ll get back to you.” Before you leave the prospect’s office say, “I’m not sure that she will agree to that so just in case she doesn’t, what else can I suggest to her?” When executed properly, it catches the buyer off-guard and often causes them to make a reciprocal offer.
Good Cop, Bad Cop. Just as the name states, one buyer plays the role of the bad cop. This person will often show disgust or anger during negotiating process to put the seller on edge. At one point they usually leave the room and the other buyer will say 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?”
The Vise. This tactic is designed to bump up the offer and it starts with the buyer shaking her head and saying, “You’ll have to do better than that.”
Listen for those words!
When you hear them, this is what you need to say, “Exactly how much better do I have to do?”
Sometimes the prospect will give you a target but smart buyers will often respond with, “Well, better than what you have suggested.”
In those situations, you need to hold your ground and repeat, “Exactly how much better do I have to do?” It may sound like a broken record but it is often effective for gaining an idea of what concession the buyer is looking for.
The Red Herring. This is a tricky tactic that focuses the seller’s attention on a small, often insignificant issue. The prospect will make that issue seem extremely important by dwelling on it for an extended period of time. The reason it is effective is that it puts the seller on the defensive or in a position of weakness which causes them to quickly concede to other, more important or valuable concessions.
There are dozens of other tactics but when you learn to recognize and properly respond to these five negotiating tactics, you will begin to improve your results. However, a word of caution, I strongly suggest that you practise these with colleagues before you use them with a prospect. This will improve your delivery and bolster your confidence in an actual negotiation.