Even if you're hoping to reach a win-win agreement with your customer, there's always a chance that the customer will try to pull a fast one. Here are four common negotiating tricks and exactly how to counter them.
1. Pretending to have cold feet.
Scenario: You've already reached verbal agreement, but as you're negotiating the final terms, the prospect questions the wisdom of the deal, saying something like "we're not really sure that this is the right thing for us to do at this time."
What the prospect is hoping that you'll offer additional concessions rather than lose the sale. Rather than jumping to concessions, however, your best strategy is probe further to see whether there's a real problem or whether you're just being yanked around.
2. Surfacing an unreasonable requirement.
Scenario: You're working with a prospect to craft a deal and suddenly the customer demands something that makes no business sense, like: "We'll need you to stop doing business with our competitors if you're doing business with us."
What's going on here is that the prospect is planning to concede the unreasonable request as a bargaining chip to extract more realistic concessions. Your best strategy is to call the customer's bluff.
3. Requesting a last minute discount.
Scenario: You're at the point of signing the contracts, with an agreed-upon price, when the prospect demands a steep discount of the deal is off. Example: "My boss says that if don't drop the price 25 percent, the deal is off."
What's really going on here is that the prospect is checking to confirm that you've given them the best deal. The worst thing you can do at this point is to give the discount, because then you've told the prospect you can't be trusted to offer the best deal.
4. Stretching out the process.
Scenario: The sales opportunity is proceeding apace when suddenly all the important meetings are pushed way out. Example: "I can't meet next Friday to discuss this; how about next month?"
In this case, prospect is hoping that you've got a quota to make and therefore will sweeten the deal in order to speed up the process. Your best strategy in such situations is to surface some negative consequences of delaying the sale.
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