You can never say it too many times: in order to reach an agreement with the other side during a sales negotiation, you ALWAYS have to make some sort of concession(s). The trick to doing this correctly is to make sure that you don’t make so many concessions that when a deal is struck that you’re left feeling that you didn’t get a good deal.
Once upon a time I was in the process of moving to start a new job and had to sell my house. I had found an interested buyer and we were in the processing of negotiating a selling price. We had gotten pretty close to an agreement, but we were not quite there.
I knew that all of the appliances in the house were pretty much on their last legs, and I was concerned that the buyer was going to ask me to replace them as a part of the deal. I has already moved so that would have been a big inconvenience to contract out the work, oversee it, and pay for it. However, the buyer only came back and asked me to replace the hot water heaters. I negotiated just paying him cash to have him take care of it and then we were able to strike a deal.
[Editors Note: I later found out that he pocketed the cash that I gave him, didn't fix the hot water heaters which were in the attic, and shortly thereafter they failed and flooded the house. Ouch - there's a lesson in there somewhere]
Here are few additional guidelines on how to make concessions work for you during your next sales negotiation:
- Try to not negotiate using so-called “funny money” – taxes, credit cards, monthly payments, and interest rates. Stick to the real stuff that everyone understands.
- Understand and use the power of the word “no”. All too many sales negotiators are afraid to use this word. If you use it over and over again, eventually the other side will come to believe that you really mean it. Persistence pays!
- In the heat of a sales negotiation, it can be easy to lose track of what really matters to you. Make sure that you keep a list of what’s important to you (and what’s important to the other side) and look at it often.
- If you make a concession that you later on decide was a bad idea, have the courage to step back from that concession. Remember that until the sale is signed for, everything can be re-negotiated. Not stepping back from a previous concession because of pride is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make.
- Throttle the other side’s expectations. You are in charge of how many concessions you make and how fast you make them. If you give too much away too soon, then the other side will start to expect even more.