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Trade Away This Bad Negotiating Technique

Jul 1, 2008
As I look around my basement, I realize that maybe I'm hanging on to too much stuff. When I trade for goods and services (some call that "negotiating"), I realize I'm also pretty good at hanging on to my profit when I'm the seller, and my money when I'm the buyer. How good are you at hanging on to what you already have? One simple technique can make you much better at it.

This works even when no money is trading hands. Perhaps just your time is involved. Maybe your boss wants you to take on "just one more thing." Or you've been scheduled for one more meeting. Pretty soon you're overwhelmed and kicking yourself for saying "Yes" a few too many times. Maybe you can't say "No" either, but there is another option.

Bad Negotiating Exemplified

Let's imagine for a moment you're a seller engaged in a dialog with a potential buyer that goes like this:

- Buyer: "You're higher than your competition. What can you do when you sharpen your pencil?"
- Seller: "I am authorized to match our competition's price."
- Buyer: "Great! Unfortunately, I see your standard shipping is 2 weeks, and I need it on Tuesday. Can you do that?"
- Seller: "I can expedite shipping for you. You can have it by Tuesday if you order now."
- Buyer: "Nice! But I won't be able to use it without the accessories kit. Will you include it at no charge if I buy?"
- Seller: "Sure, I'll do that just for you, because you're special."

Let's stop our example there, although the dialog (and the concessions) certainly didn't stop there. Notice that at no time did the Buyer commit to the purchase, despite the fact that the Seller has discounted away profit and increased costs by expediting shipping and giving away accessories. The Buyer is "on a roll"; why wouldn't they keep asking for more concessions?

They will, because they are grinding, a negotiating technique that enables them to continue to sweeten the deal until they either take pity on the Seller and stop, or the Seller makes them stop.

A Fair Turn

Stopping a grinder is easy. Simply replace concessions with trades. Whenever you are asked to give something up, prepare to trade for something of perceived value.

When your boss asks you to do "just one more thing," ask what can come off your current projects list to make room for the new one. When one more meeting comes up, ask which deadline can be pushed back to accommodate the new unplanned need for your time. When your buyer asks for a price concession, ask for... well, what CAN you trade?

Bring In Your Trade-Offs

When negotiating, it can literally pay to be prepared. Anticipate the potential concession requests you may encounter. As a seller, you can prepare a list of possible trade-offs, which might include:
- Reduced feature set
- Slower (less expensive) shipping
- Accepting delivery (and making payment) sooner
- Faster payment terms
- Cash instead of credit
- Adding a "bonus" instead of reducing the price
- Increasing the order size
- Testimonial letter
- Referral to a new prospect
- Booking the order NOW

Being prepared is key. When the Buyer asks for a discount, the Seller better have something ready to trade. When your boss asks for "just one more thing," it helps to have that list of current projects ready so you can agree on which one to cross off or postpone. When you're prepared, your dialog can sound like this:

- Buyer: "You're higher than your competition. What can you do when you sharpen your pencil?"
- Seller: "I'd be happy to discuss reducing the price. Which features of my offer would you like me to delete so that I can deliver only what my competition is quoting?"
- Buyer: "Well, we need everything you're quoting but, unfortunately, I see your standard shipping is 2 weeks, and I need it on Tuesday. Can you do that?"
- Seller: "I can give you expedited shipping to hit your Tuesday deadline for free, if we can increase your order quantities by 10% to hit our free shipping minimum."
- Buyer: "Well, OK, but I won't be able to use ANY of it without the accessories kit. Will you include it at no charge if I buy?"
- Seller: "I'd love to do that to get a great new customer like you. Tell you what: if you buy now and agree to give me a glowing testimonial letter when you decide you're thrilled with us, I'll get the accessories kit included for you. Have we got a deal?"

Negotiating the Give and Take

When you make trades instead of concessions, you can walk away from both formal and impromptu negotiations with more of what you want. Notice that you never have to say "No"; you simply have to be prepared to say, "I'll give you what you want if I can have what I want." Prepare, and become a trader that stops the grinding in day-to-day negotiations. You'll find you'll have more of what YOU want, including time to clean out your basement.

Copyright 2008 Paul Johnson.
About the Author
Paul Johnson the Trouble Breaker works with organizations to convert trouble into double and triple digit performance breakthroughs. Discover breakthrough concepts at http://ShortcutsToResults.com. Visit http://ConsultativeSelling.com/ for more insights about Consultative Selling.
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