Negotiation: Three More Useful Tips

Today we’ll continue with three more tips on how to negotiate effectively and you’ll see how powerful your approach will be if you’re careful to ask useful questions first, rather than playing your own cards, as we discussed last week.

So here’s tip number one:  Always ask your client to tell you his own goals or desired outcomes first, rather than you telling the client what you must have. We learned this principle earlier, that there is an advantage to asking before telling.  The client’s responses to your discovery questions will guide you as to what to do next.  Examples:

“If you could design the perfect end point to these discussions, where would we be?  What would you like to see happen?”

“If we could fast forward to six months from now, what would you see?  How do you see our relationship working?”

“Given the context of our earlier discussions, what do you feel you need to get out of this?  What would you like to see us do?”

Now you can frame all your offers as being designed to help the client meet his needs.

Your second tip is to get on the table all the things the client values, OTHER THAN PRICE!  To ensure that you’re negotiating and not haggling, you must understand all the client’s value points.  If you ask clients what’s most important to them in any business transaction, there is a likelihood they’ll say, “Just the price.”  But clients value other things as well, and you must learn what they are. You know that price and cost are going to come into the negotiation at some point, so before they do, ask what else will be important. Here’s how you might phrase this key question:

“I know that one of the issues we must discuss is price.  But aside from price, what else is going to be important to you?”

“What are the things you value most from a relationship?  What do you want from us?”

Your third tip is to encourage an early discussion on obstacles and challenges and deal with resistance right away so that the conversation stays positive. This is an extension of learning about what the client values, in that it will help you see what the client does not like, or is worried about.

For example:

“You take a long time to turn things around.”  Translation: the client values promptness.

“I don’t like to be nickel and dimed to death.”  Translation: the client prefers you show him the value for what he pays for, OR that she would be amenable to packaged pricing.

It is easiest to deal with client resistance throughout the discussion if you offer to get it on the table now.  Better it comes up because you asked, rather than after you make a solution recommendation, and then have to back-pedal.

“In what areas do you foresee problems ahead?  What’s getting in the way in your opinion?”

“I’d like to work with you on clearing a path for us to a great solution, so let’s talk about possible challenges.  What are you concerned about?”

These three tips are easy to understand and implement, if you just…

Think Like Your Customer!

My next newsletter will go out on Tuesday July 12th.  You can sign up for it by clicking on the ActionSystems website link to the right, and then once on the site just click the “N” (top right) for newsletter and follow the prompt.

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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