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Negotiation tactics are verified strategies and frameworks that help you overcome objections and finalize the terms of a deal with a prospect. The best tactics are repeatable methods that put the prospect’s mind at ease and work toward win-win outcomes. To help you negotiate great deals for both parties, we’ve put together a list of pro sellers' strategies for salespeople to use before, during, and after negotiations.
Here are the top negotiation tactics and strategies from experts:
Before you enter a meeting or call in which you'll likely have to negotiate with a potential customer, there are a few ways you can set yourself up for success. Learn from the pros how best to prepare and close more deals.
Sales Director, Domino Data Lab
"Make sure your product or service's value proposition is clear and the business case is confirmed before negotiations. And if validated by the buyer, you both can collaborate for an outcome that is worthwhile for both parties."
— Cathleen Moynihan, Okera
Sales Director, VEM Tooling
"Know your audience by practicing the PPOIB chain, which goes as identifying their problems, priorities, objections, information channel, and buying process. In general, solicit feedback from your target audience after every step of your process. Ensuring customer satisfaction and establishing a loyal relationship between the organization and the customers is possible if and only if one manages to collect and accommodate the unique needs of the customers at the most appropriate times."
— David Reid, VEM Tooling
CEO, Ever Wallpaper
"The last thing you want to do is negotiate with someone who lacks decision-making authority. You'll have to start over, and you'll have lost all of the rapport and compromises you built throughout your meetings with the wrong prospect. Identifying the decision-maker early in the sales process is essential. Before entering into contract discussions, send an email or phone to the point of contact and ask, 'Who will have the final say on this deal?' If the prospect does not say 'me,' ask if it would be OK to invite the decision-maker to your forthcoming contract negotiation meeting."
— Lily Wili, Ever Wallpaper
CEO, Hardcore Closer
"Assuming the other party is relentless means understanding they may get emotional, irrational, and shady. You’ve got to be ready for all of this, and you’ve also got to be equally as 'ruthless.' Not mean, not shady, but not willing to relent on your side. This works even better when you let the other side feel as if you’re on their team and simply trying to find the best deal for you both."
— Ryan Stewman, Hardcore Closer
Realtor, Home Group Realty
"We've seen it all: constantly looking at their watch, showing up late for meetings, seeming disinterested, getting outraged over a minor issue. Buyers use these tactics to throw the power balance, and most of it is acting. If you're aware of these tactics, you can just ignore them as negotiation tactics and continue on with your presentations. Buyers are still usually listening, but also watching you to see what your reaction is — because if they sense weakness, they'll increase the intensity!"
— Ryan Waller, Home Group Realty
CEO, Editor's Pick
"A buyer may try to persuade you to lower your price. Never enter a negotiation without knowing the lowest number you're allowed to give to prevent promising them something you can't deliver. To find this number, speak with your boss or the finance department. A vice president of sales may have greater discounting room than an account executive — possibly 20% vs. 10%. You don't want to be taken off guard by an "I'm not sure we can go that low / make those parameters work" response. This can make you feel out of place while also making you appear inept in the perspective of the prospect. So, before you call, double-check what you can offer them."
— Kathryn McDavid, Editor's Pick
Marketing Manager, The Whit Group
"During negotiations, you must be able to handle the discomfort of conflicts. All the best practices are useful only if you can do them. Before going into one, stop and calm yourself down by doing some breathing exercises. This is so that you are not emotionally charged and tunnel-visioned."
— Sarah Walters, The Whit Group
While you're negotiating with a potential client, experienced salespeople suggest various ways to get the price and terms you want and close the sale. Read their advice on what to do and say during a negotiation.
Sharon Van Donkelaar
Chief Marketing Officer, Expandi
"When negotiating with someone and trying to get the best deal possible for you both, you want to encourage a dialogue with the person where you get as much valuable information from them as possible, but most importantly, you want to avoid yes-no answers that limit your negotiating skills. So, instead of asking 'Is this your final number to be able to work with us?' you could ask 'If we could X, how could you Y?' to get the prospect to compromise with you. Even though this strategy doesn't mean you'll always get what you want, it will certainly help you get the most out of every negotiation."
— Sharon Van Donkelaar, Expandi
Managing Director, Nexus IT Group
"I believe many negotiators underestimate themselves because they do not appropriately recognise the power they possess. You have more power than you believe in most bargaining situations. You must believe that the other party requires what you bring to the table as much as you desire a successful negotiation. Also, make sure your positivism shines through during the negotiation. While interacting with the other party, be aware of your voice tone and nonverbal body language."
— Travis Lindemoen, Nexus IT Group
CEO, Social Vantage
"Suggest modest pricing reductions you could make in exchange for a certain purchase — even if it's unrelated. (Of course, if they appear interested, it's vital not to let people forget what was talked about, so take notes.) For example, if they want a year of customer support included, inquire if there are any other services you'll need to provide in addition to this. Do they require assistance in setting up or conducting courses? If that's the case, disclose these costs in your initial offer, since it may allow you some wiggle space on the price."
— Dan Barrett, Social Vantage
CRO, Sales Assembly
"In Todd Caponi's book The Transparency Sale, he lays out the concept of negotiation 'levers' — specifically, four levers that you can pull when negotiating with a prospect. These include volume (how much of the product or service the prospect going to buy), timing of cash (how quickly the prospect can pay), length of commitment (how long the contract is), and timing of the deal (when the signature will actually happen). Be sure to figure out and use these four levers once you get deep into negotiation."
— Matt Green, Sales Assembly
"An easy negotiation tactic is to use silence to get the other party to speak and divulge more information. Salespeople have a tendency to talk too much or be afraid of silence, but silence is your friend during a negotiation. When the other party is speaking and they say something you want to know more about, keep quiet. They'll fill the silence with additional info."
— Joe Benjamin, RevPilots
Co-Founder, Twiz LLC
"There is no guarantee that every sales negotiation will be a win-win. When faced with objections or challenges, try to add value. Value-driven sales organizations have higher win rates and capture more price. Focusing on your objectives and helping your buyers meet them can almost always lead to ideas for building value without lowering the price."
— Christian Velitchkov, Twiz LLC
Investment Director & Partner, Element Star
"Empathy demonstrates understanding the prospective clients' pain points on a human level and it recognizes that they are asking for help, not an opportunity to profit from their difficulty. This actually softens their approach and lowers their guard and it reduces their stress that can often cloud clearer judgment."
— Ali Sheikh, Element Star
Marketing Specialist, Scooter.guide
"You may need to make prospects feel sensitive about your company's condition at times. Demonstrate to them that you're not just a greedy corporation out to get everything they have, but that you have good reasons for charging the way you do. Show them how a drastic price decrease might hurt your firm and your capacity to service them and other customers."
— Daniel Foley, Scooter.guide
Chief Sales Officer, Exceed Sales
"Listen to learn and understand the other party’s issues and standpoint. Most importantly, clarifying that what you heard is what the other party means by restating and getting their agreement will help you better facilitate a successful win-win conclusion."
— Elisa Ciarametaro, Exceed Sales
Sales Expert, Clearsurance
"Framing negotiations as teamwork can be a powerful tool to close a deal as long as your actions match the words you say. For example, if you say you want to work on the sale together but you’re unwilling to listen to ideas and opinions, it will be evident to the other party that you have no interest in teamwork. They’ll assume you heard about the technique in a webinar and thought it sounded good but that, in reality, you’ll only be committed to doing things your way. So, when you enter negotiations, remind yourself that someone else’s ideas might be better than your own, and they’re worth considering."
— Melanie Musson, Clearsurance
Founder & CEO, Solitaired
"Knowing how to create compromises by insisting on trade-offs is crucial. However, your goal should always be to make as few compromises as possible, and you should proceed with prudence and patience when making them. You can be flexible at times, but you must be willing to accept trade-offs."
— Darsh Somashekar, Solitaired
Founder & CEO, VPNCheck.org
"Never underestimate your own strength or allow fear to keep you from asking for what you want in the first place. Don't be afraid to take a risk. In the event that you've done your homework properly, chances are you've already considered your desired outcome in the context of what you believe the other party will be able to handle in the first place. Be prepared to make concessions, but don't make concessions before the negotiations have even started!"
— Dr. Frederik Lipfert, VPNCheck.org
SEO & Content Lead, Breaking Muscle
"When it comes to price negotiations becoming stuck, many people see meeting in the middle as an obvious and simple option. (I have $100 and you have $90. If we split the difference, we'd end up with $95.) While there's nothing wrong with agreeing to split the difference, you're better off waiting for the other person to propose the suggestion. Then you can agree on a level of the split that's closer to your original proposal. Don't be the first one to suggest splitting the difference."
— Max Whiteside, Breaking Muscle
Managing Partner, Structured Agency
"Be the solution, not the solicitor. It’s essential that when you’re in the process of negotiating a sale with a prospective buyer/client, you listen intently to address their pain points. If you are solely looking to create a pitch loosely based on a company script or agenda, you could be missing out on the key points stated in the customer’s narrative."
— Nick Shackelford, Structured Agency
After the negotiation, it's time to officially ask for the sale. Here are the top pro tips on transitioning from a negotiation to a closed deal.
Sports Partnerships, Twitter
"You don't get what you don't ask for. It seems simple, but I've seen so many salespeople hesitate to make the ‘ask’ at the end of a pitch or a meeting. Your success rate will dramatically increase if you are direct and clear in your ask and you work to get the paperwork signed."
— Will Exline, Twitter
Account Executive SMB, Monday.com
"It’s a given that salespeople need to add value at every step of the sales cycle. But what takes the most risk out of the deal? A salesperson’s willingness to go the extra mile. Those (seemingly) small client requests end up being highly memorable when it comes down to either your product or a competitor’s. Which salesperson was the most helpful? Who was the most responsive? Who made it clear that this deal was their priority? That’s the salesperson who is going to win the deal. So make it known to your customer that you’re willing to go above and beyond to win their business. And then ask them how so you can close!"
— Lindsay Hamel, Monday.com
Business Development Executive, Leyton Consulting
"At the end of negotiations with a client, it's essential to set deadlines and schedule follow-ups. It's never a good idea to leave things open-ended because then you'll lose control of the conversation. Getting follow-up calls scheduled makes sure that you're staying in contact with the client or prospect, which will keep you informed about any potential roadblocks preventing the deal from moving forward. In addition, deadlines on price discounts will help create urgency and keep you in control of the timeline. While setting deadlines and scheduling follow-ups are super important, don't forget to ask for the deal — that's the most crucial part of any negotiation."
— Michael Sullivan, Leyton Consulting
Founder & CEO, HostPapa
"Even the most skilled sales negotiations can go wrong at times. If a prospect makes excessive demands and refuses to bend, or if they simply cannot be served adequately under the terms they require, the rep may need to walk away. Often, the prospect's willingness to walk away from a terrible deal motivates him or her to move up and accept a more advantageous solution. In other circumstances, it simply means the salesperson avoids entering a scenario they would regret later."
— Jamie Opalchuk, HostPapa
Founder & CEO, Caraway
"A great sales negotiation tactic is to ask the question ‘What would it take to get you to sign now?’ Once this benchmark has been found, you can use it as a way to negotiate up to meet your own business needs, then get a contract signed. Have in mind what target you have for the deal and work your client towards this target, then draft the agreement when you've reached it."
— Jordan Nathan, Caraway
Negotiating with a prospect can seem daunting, but it can help to learn about the skill beforehand and reframe the way you think about negotiating. Instead of seeing it as a chess match of wits and mental fortitude, think of it as a lead nurturing exercise in which two partners are trying to overcome business obstacles to reach the ultimate agreement. Often, these hard conversations will bring you and your prospect closer, making them great beginnings to your working relationship.
For more detailed information on negotiating, read our guide on how to close, which includes steps, strategies, and tips to negotiate and close a sale.
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