How NOT to negotiate – as a seller

Expert AdviceOne of my favourite past times is negotiating. If I were to ever write a CV (and I haven’t for a long time) that silly little section that seems ubiquitous with the great masses “hobbies and interests” would not say “reading, socialising and music”. It would say “negotiating”. Why is that? The answer is, because it is fun and rewarding (spiritually and financially). Some people make it harder than it really is though.

If you haven’t read my article on the prelude to negotiation then I recommend you read it as it has some great tips as to how to avoid having to negotiate unnecessarily. This is really a study of how not to conduct the actual negotiation so you can see the light on how you should…

  1. Get nervous
  2. When I say get nervous, I mean get really nervous. Act as though you are worried and frightened about this. If you are the seller then act like this means a great deal to you and that losing the deal would be the end of your world. That level of nerves will ensure the other person knows they can screw you over.

  3. Demonstrate a lack of belief
  4. It’s your choice here and we have a few to choose from: A lack of belief in your product, your services or even your prices. Maybe even a lack of belief in your ability to get what you want. To really excel at doing badly, then all three would be awesome. I have met some truly bad negotiators and this is one area that they have put in a lot of groundwork. To help get you started, here are some classic questions that quickly help demonstrate a lack of belief:

    “The price is £12k, how does that sound to you?”

    “How does that compare to other quotes?”

    “The price is £12k, although there is some room to negotiate”

    “Our standard terms are £12k”

    These are merely suggestions, I am sure if you wanted to you could come up with many many more.

  5. Get angry and aggressive when your price is questioned
  6. Getting angry is a marvellous way to lose control quickly. In fact, getting angry is a really portable piece of advice on how not to do anything (except get punched in the face or lose control). Any emotional outburst will assist in losing sight of your objectives and preventing you remaining objective.

  7. Act as if everyone will want a discount
  8. Some industries, more than others, are rife with discount expectations. Due to this to make sure you give away as much of your hard earned margin or money as possible, act as if everyone wants or deserves a lower price. One great way to do that without feeling as though you are throwing money away is to tell your customer that it is normal. For example, “I know that there are those out there who are willing to drop their prices to ridiculous levels. I, on the other hand, am not like that so, can offer a one off price of £10k instead of 12k” then tie that into number 2 if you feel at that level by asking “How does that sound to you?”

  9. Worry about losing the deal, needlessly
  10. This can help in two ways. Firstly, it can make you feel better about getting the deal and secondly it can help make sure you do it at the lowest price possible. If you think that you will lose a deal by standing your ground without actually testing to see if that is the case then you can, with confidence, win the business as the lowest price you can. You can then also compliment the buyer on their “hard negotiation skills” and ensure they remain loyal at this loss making rate for a longer period of time.

  11. Create fake negotiation request signals in your head
  12. Rather than only negotiating with those who are serious about it, create (or invent in your head) a list of the negotiation signals that will indicate who wants to negotiate. Classic fake signals I have seen true champions of negotiation failure use include any client who asks or says:

    “Are your prices negotiable?”

    “That seems a lot of money, what do I get for it?”

    “What would you charge me for this?”

    “Can you send me your terms and conditions?”

    “How much would it be if I bought 5?”

    “What is your best price?”

    “How much would it be if I bought 5?”

    “What is your best price?”

    All of these clearly do not indicate someone wanting to negotiate, merely questions to gather information to make decisions. Perhaps decisions that you feel you can mind read and need to roll out #7 or #5. Combining #1 and #6 is a strategy I have seen work a lot for many a professional weak negotiator. Back up your decision when defending it to colleagues by saying things like “You weren’t there or on the call… I had no choice”

  13. Know your walk away point, and stick to it.
  14. Before you shriek “That’s how you should negotiate!” let me finish. If your walk away point is a 15% margin and your customer “appears” to want to negotiate (classic tell tale sign of a negotiator are listed in #6) just say “Normally we would charge at a 30% margin, however I can see you are keen to get the best deal you can so the best price is 15%. Take it or leave.” The take it or leave it stance contravenes rule #2 as it shows true belief and they are likely to take the deal knowing that you can go no lower.

This is just a bit of fun, though full of learning points, for those actually wishing to become a better negotiator. When I train negotiation we (the group) get quite practical and for part of it we go shopping; Together we look for the above traits in vendors and we look for them in us as buyers (buyers suffer negotiation fears and anxieties too you know!). If you want to get good recognise what is causing you issues. In the main, it is only you and your mental approach. Rarely is it the product, service or pricing structure. I know that to be true. Do you?

Happy negotiating!

Related Articles:

The Prelude to Negotiation – 5 simple steps to help you make more money

The 7 Deadly Sins of Recruiters

So Your A Social Media Expert – How do I know?


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