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Small Compass Sound Sales: Sales vs. Negotiating

By Mark McGlinchey - Written by Compass Group Solutions Founder Mark McGlinchey, this article first appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal

Sales Tip

I am a sales professional who believes that sales and negotiating are two completely different animals. However, from time to time negotiating becomes part of the selling cycle. Therefore, let’s define both processes.
Sales is the art of getting your prospect to buy your product at your price under your terms and conditions. Negotiating is when you give up one thing for something else in return. Unfortunately, many sales professionals think they are negotiating when they give up something for nothing in return. Trust me, this is not negotiating!

If you’re in sales and you find yourself negotiating more than you would like, here are some principles and tactics to keep in mind:

Principles of Negotiation

  1. Handle your business issues without emotion. When your personal feelings interfere with business, they cause frustration, cloud your judgment and can lead to failure.

  2. Avoid becoming a casualty. Most sales professionals who negotiate poor outcomes set themselves up for future complications. You become a casualty when you give up more than you or your
    company are comfortable with.

  3. It is what it is. In the final stage of the buying cycle, you must deal with the reality of the situation – not what should have been or could have been – but rather, what it is now.

  4. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Always be aware of the stalls and objections that are real – the ones that can kill a deal. Your focus on perception vs. reality can get cloudy when you negotiate. Keep asking yourself, “What is perception? What is reality?”

  5. Never become a hostage. Know when to walk away. Know where to draw a line in the sand. Be willing to call the prospect’s bluff on stalls and objections you know are not real.

Negotiating tactics

  1. The Flinch. This is conveyed through body language or a look of disbelief on your face when asked for a concession.

  2. The Take Away. This is when you imply that you want to revisit and possibly take away concessions you have already made. The purpose of this tactic is to stop the prospect from continuing to ask for more.

  3. Offer Options. Assume there are five issues on which negotiations are still taking place. Tell your prospect you can concede on two or maybe three of these issues but you have to hold firm on the others. Give them a choice on the two or three they want.

  4. Higher Authority. Defer to higher authority. You cannot give them what they are asking for because it is not within your power and you will never get approval.

  5. Let’s Pretend. Use the verbiage, “Let’s pretend, I conceded on this issue” and ask… what happens next? If what happens next is to your advantage, or helps finalize the deal, then you might think about conceding the point. However, if it does not move you closer, then why concede? And, tell your prospect that.

  6. The End of the World As We Know It. This tactic involves taking your prospect to the edge of some terrible outcome and showing them you have the strength to walk away. Usually, both parties – not just the seller – have a great deal to lose if the negotiations fail in the final stage of the buying cycle.

  7. Lighten up. The use of flattery or humor in the negotiating process at the right time, or at critical times, can help you uncover how firm the prospect is on an issue and where the line can really be drawn.

  8. Standard Practice. When your prospect is negotiating with you and asks for certain concessions, get used to using the terminology back to them, “This is not standard practice.” This will begin to wear on them. Very few people enjoy constantly breaking the law.

  9. Home Field Advantage. In the final stage of the buying cycle, when negotiations are taking place, try to get the prospect to make a road trip to your office or facility. This tells you how committed they are to getting the deal done – which is to your advantage. It also, subconsciously, reinforces their commitment.

  10. Never Be Outnumbered. Negotiate one-on-one or two-on-two. Try never to be caught in a situation where there are more of them than there are of you. If you ever find yourself outnumbered, always use the tactics ‘higher authority’ and ‘this is not standard practice’.


Keywords: Sales Negotiating Tactics, Negotiation, Sales Tips, Sales Professional Development, Sales Leadership Development, Sales Management Tips, Sound Sales, Sales Consulting, Compass Group Solutions, Mark McGlinchey

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