Sales Negotiation? Beware the Stare & Be Prepared

Don’t you hate it when you’re sent to negotiate with a buyer who clearly has the upper hand?

fencing fencer sport quality

As you park your car and walk towards reception, you can almost hear the entire purchasing department chanting softly;

“You need our business more than we need you – sharpen your pencil or make way for a supplier who will.”

And of course back at base, your boss has no sympathy – no sympathy at all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are four pieces of advice, that will make sure future negotiations become a little more even-handed. 

1. Stop Trying to Win
OK – Let’s tackle the big one first.

In the past, every time that you’ve walked into a negotiation intent on winning –  your emotions took charge of your brain.

Put simply – if you enter a negotiation trying to win;
Then all I have to do is make you THINK you’ve won to get what I want.

As an alternative, why not enter every negotiation with the intention of securing the best deal for you and your business.

Handy negotiation tip #1: During your next negotiation – help your customer “win” – while you concentrate on securing the best possible outcome. 

2. It’s Time to Believe in Your Solution
What you believe to be the truth and how you feel about it, creates a silent message that you send across the table throughout negotiations.

John Wyndham’s sci-fi novel The Midwich Cuckoos (which was turned into the 1960 film Village of the Damned – with the tag line “Beware the Stare that will Paralyse the Will of the World!”) – involves alien children with spooky powers.

One of those unearthly powers was the ability to read minds.

To fight against this, all the human adults imagined an impregnable wall to shield their thoughts – but the children were too strong and their mental barriers tumbled.

Your poker face might very well be a Las Vegas fortune waiting to happen – but I’m afraid it won’t work when you’re sitting in a business negotiation worried that they’re;

“…reading my mind, they know I’m bluffing, the competition have offered them something for peanuts – I’m going to have to offer them the knock down price my boss said I should keep up my sleeve.”

Handy negotiation tip #2: Become evangelistic about what you sell and what it’s worth – this 1 minute vid on YouTube helps to explain why.

Essentially I’d like you to think of it like this; When the customer breaks down your defensive mental wall and reads your mind – you should be thinking;
“I can’t believe you don’t want this – are you mad – there is nothing that will do the job better.”

3. Don’t Start Negotiating Until You’ve Finished Selling
Some people think that negotiating is just another stage in the sales process, but as I pointed out in a recent article (What’s the Difference Between Selling & Negotiating?), that actually might prove to be your undoing.

If you have to re-explain the value to me during a negotiation, then you never finished the sales process.

It will be seen, at best, as an indicator that you and your company are not quite up to the job or a sign of nerves – and at worst, be open season for ripping your proposal to pieces and offering to pay you 3 beans for your bag of diamonds.

Handy negotiation tip #3: Explain and present the total value of your offering and why moving forward with you is the only and best option available to them during the sales process. Only negotiate once this process is over.

If they need what you’ve got and you’re the best option available to them, you’re in a much stronger position than you think – which brings me onto…

4. Focus on Their Worries and Try to Forget About Yours
What thoughts do you think occupy a buyer’s mind during a negotiation?

What emotions do you think they feel as they organise their pencils on the meeting room table before you arrive?

In the same way that you’re sent in with the responsibility of bringing home the bacon for your business, those buyers are tasked with making the best buying decisions by their hierarchy.

So, what happens if they get that wrong?

Well, apart from the commercial and financial implications – there’s the personal humiliation and – in certain cases – the risk of losing their job.

But, what happens if they make the buying decision of the year?

Yup – promotion, a fat bonus, heaps of praise – good times.

So what do you want your customers to feel before they pick up the negotiation stick again? Is it…..

Anxiety“If I choose this one people will think I’m an Idiot.”

Apathy“I can live without this – Maybe I’ll take a couple if they’re giving them away.”

Excitement“When I present this internally people are going to think I’m a purchasing genius.”

Handy negotiation tip #4: During a negotiation, what you know about the buyers situation guides every decision you make. But so does what you don’t know.

Ask great questions throughout the sales process so that you thoroughly understand the problem your solving – and can point out why your option is the only one worth taking way before the tactics and tricks start to fly across the table at you.


The above is an excerpt from my new book – Selling with EASE: The Four Step Sales Cycle Found in Every Successful Business Transaction which is now available from Kindle and as a Paperback.

If you’d like a preview, you can download the first 30 pages as a PDF document – completely free – by clicking right here


Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His other books include The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club – which has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

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