Buyers want to win just as much as you do. So when it’s time to close, most buyers will come armed to negotiate whether they need a better deal or not!
And that’s OK. As a sales professional, you want what’s best for buyers and you. Everyone should be satisfied – like they got exactly what they should.
Salespeople give into buyers’ demands 60% of the time, RAIN Group researchers found. So you want to be ready to react to their negotiation tactics.
Here’s what they’ll try, what they’ll say – and the best ways to respond.
Good buyer, bad buyer
Strategy: The buyer has been the good guy all along, agreeing to mostly everything you propose. Then at the last minute in negotiations, she introduces (either in person or from behind the scenes) the bad buyer – the boss who demands a different price, term or specification.
What they’ll say: “I like what I see. But my boss just won’t agree to these terms. He won’t agree until you …”
You respond: “I’ll be happy to work with both of you on this. I’d like to see how you’ve come to this conclusion and talk through the possibilities.”
Bottom line: You want to insist on working with the good buyer and bad buyer at the same time so you can eliminate the rehearsed approach they planned for negotiations.
Strategy: The buyer will put a parental kind of guilt on you by saying you need to do better.
What they’ll say: “You’ll have to do better than this. We expect you to get it to us (at a better price, with better terms, at better quality, etc.)”
You respond: “Why?”
Bottom line: It’s a short and valid response. You need to figure out if expectations weren’t aligned or the buyer is just trying to get a price-drop because he can. Then be ready to talk value – and add value, if necessary.
Strategy: The buyer brings up a “really big issue” that was small, non-existent or already resolved to distract you from the process and get a concession on another – and soon-to-be-introduced – issue.
What they’ll say: “I liked what I see, but we’re concerned about this really big issue. If we can’t get around that, maybe we could settle on this.”
You respond: “Let’s deal with each issue separately. We have time and resources to pound out everything.”
Bottom line: You want to put the bigger issues up front so you don’t get worn down and agree to unnecessary and unfair concessions later.
Time and competitor pressure
Strategy: With this negotiation tactic, your buyer invokes the competition – which you likely know and understand is in the picture – and a looming deadline.
What they’ll say: “I’m talking to (your competition) later this afternoon, and I’m confident they’ll agree to my terms.”
You respond: “I understand you have to consider options. So to review, our final bid is $XX, and it includes (a list of the benefits and terms). I can also do this … (one last value you’re willing to add).”
Bottom line: There’s a good chance buyers are using this same line with several salespeople. This will help flesh out real issues vs. a bluff. Offering one last, reasonable benefit can often seal the deal.
Strategy: The buyer tries to peel apart and reconfigure the solution you created based on their needs, but still wants to negotiate the same price or terms.
What they’ll say: “I know I said we needed 100 units with partial service coverage, but it looks like we just need 50 and full service coverage. At least for now.”
You respond: “I’ll be happy to work with you now that your needs shifted. I can address these issues in the next day and, as it said in the original proposal, changes could affect the price structure.:
Bottom line: When buyers want to change terms, you don’t want to address them immediately. Take the step back to make sure you’re both on the same, agreeable page, and you’ll avoid making concessions you normally wouldn’t.
Strategy: The buyer keeps putting off a decision, usually citing the cost, trying to wear you down into submission by the end of negotiations.
What they’ll say: “It’s too much for now. Let’s circle back in two months.” Or, “As much as I’d like to do this, I can’t fit it in the budget. Let’s talk next quarter.”
You respond: “OK, let’s get this on our calendars right now. Friday, September 12 is exactly two months from today. Does this same time slot work for you?”
Bottom line: When you negotiate, be willing to hold off, too. You’ve likely already pressed them with urgency, so when they aren’t compelled by urgency, you shouldn’t be either. Remember, another supplier might be pressuring them, and the one who respects their time is more likely to win.
Meet in the middle
Strategy: The buyer suggests splitting the difference because he sees it as the fairest and quickest way to close the deal.
What they’ll say: “Let’s meet in the middle of my offer and your proposal, and call it a day.”
You respond: “Let’s review the pricing, benefits and terms to determine if the ‘middle’ is the right place for both of us.”
Bottom line: “Meeting in the middle” or “splitting the difference” only makes sense if the division is fair to both sides.
Hold on, there
Strategy: The buyer plays on your eagerness to close the deal to get you to agree to one more concession during your negotiations.
What they’ll say: “I’ll sign right now … if you can do this one last thing for me.”
You respond: “I’m curious why that’s an important point that came out now. Can you explain? Then we can talk about flexibility.”
Bottom line: Both sides need to be flexible to get to the final deal. Show you’re flexible and respectfully ask them to be, too.
Strategy: The buyer throws out a low-ball target number – for the price or term agreement – to set or reestablish the bargaining range on the lower side.
What they’ll say: “We don’t plan on spending any more than $200,000.”
You respond: “As we discussed before, the base for the solution that fits your needs is $300,000.”
Bottom line: Before you get into negotiations, you want to go in with a price first. So if they’ve forgotten or are ignoring the price you laid out, reiterate where you stand. You can flesh out a bluff or real issue from their response.
Trials to tribulations
Strategy: The buyer puts off negotiating by suggesting things that waste time until you feel pressed and are more likely to bend when it comes down to the wire.
What they’ll say: “Let me try another trial first.” Or, “I’d like for you to do a site visit.” Or, “Let me work my way through another sample.”
You respond: “You’ve had more experience with our solution than some of our customers! So let’s start building the solution fit exactly for you.”
Bottom line: You want to get the buyer focused on the business, and less on the free stuff and stalling.
The shove back
Strategy: This negotiation tactic is more than a push back. It’s a shove! And more than 80% of buyers say it’s a really effective strategy, according to The Rain Group research. The buyer acts astonished or offended by an offer in an attempt to get a quick retreat.
What they’ll say: “I can’t believe this is what you’ve brought to me!” Or, “You have got to be kidding on this price!”
You respond: “I think we may be looking at this in very different ways. Let’s try and find some common ground on the proposal and work from there.”
Bottom line: You want to shift from away from an over-reaction and find common ground where you can regain control.
Strategy: In this negotiation tactic, the buyer tells you what they want and why you should accept it, often to an extreme, to distract you from the information you can work with.
What they’ll say: “I want you to cut that price by 20% because Apex Co. offered me the same thing at that price.”
You respond: “Can you go over that again?” Or, “I’m not sure what you’re asking for. So let’s go over this to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples.”
Bottom line: You don’t want to dwell on the buyer’s leveraged demand. Instead, you want to differentiate your solution so the buyer forgets the competition and price – regardless of whether it’s real or a bluff.
Strategy: The buyer has tried many negotiation tactics. You’ve conceded to some reasonable terms and the buyer won’t budge until he wins it all.
What they’ll say: “I won’t sign until you give me everything I demand.”
You respond: “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
Bottom line: Every salesperson needs to carry the mindset that its OK to walk away. If buyers know you need a sale, they have leverage and the power to pull every negotiation tactic and win with each. But if buyers know you’re willing to walk away, you’re on a level playing field.