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The #1 Tactic Buyers Use in Sales Negotiations

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

As the global economy teeters on the edge of uncertainty, companies are already canceling engagements, dropping vendors, and tightening their purse strings.

They’re looking for any way to make their dollar stretch, and there’s no better time to do that than in contract negotiations.

For industries still in buying mode, negotiations pose a unique opportunity to take advantage of desperate sellers struggling to meet their numbers.

Buyers are already well prepared to use hardball tactics to get what they want out of sellers. In fact, they're 1.5X more likely than sellers to receive extremely effective negotiation training. This is a big deal because effective negotiation training positively correlates with buyers achieving:

  • Price concessions
  • Discounts
  • Pricing targets
  • Satisfactory negotiation outcomes

Buyers are taught the skills and tactics of effective negotiation and use them to drive down prices and receive favorable terms.

So which tactic do buyers rank as the most effective in sales negotiations?

"I just need this one last thing before I sign…"

Buyers use a seller's eagerness to close a deal to wring out final concessions. We call this tactic "One Last Thing."

Sellers are most vulnerable at the time of agreement, and this is when buyers often perceive they have the most leverage. Sometimes it’s true. Buyers do have leverage when sellers are keen—too keen—to get a deal done. Too keen, and thus, extra vulnerable to this tactic.

And it works! 85% of buyers say this is an effective negotiation tactic. In fact, it's the most effective of the 16 negotiation tactics we studied.

So how can you combat this tactic? Use these 5 tips to prepare for and successfully respond when a buyer asks for One Last Thing.

  1. Be prepared in advance to respond if buyers ask for last-minute concessions. Buyers use a variety of tactics to wring out concessions from sellers. Be prepared for push back and know what you're willing to give up and what you're not. Brainstorming possibilities and potential trades ahead of time will allow you to respond on the spot when a buyer asks for one last thing.

    Don’t respond with, "Let me see what I can do." Be prepared to respond in the moment and offer a few ideas. Follow the sales negotiation checklist, complete with 30 essential questions you need to ask as you plan your next negotiation.

  2. Don’t cave. It's tempting to cave late in a negotiation. After all, this tactic is typically used at the very last minute and made even more appealing when the buyer adds urgency such as, "I'll sign today if you give us this one last thing."

    Stay strong.

    Your advanced preparation will equip with you a list of potential trades you're willing to accept. Make "Trade. Don’t Cave" your mantra and you'll have much greater success.

  3. Respond with questions and a trade offer. When you encounter this tactic, respond with a question and bargain. For example, "Well, if we're able to do that, do you think you might be able to...?" This does a few things:

    • It sets you up for a trade
    • It tests the waters to see how important this issue is
    • It allows you to maintain a peer dynamic and not give the buyer all of the leverage

    Often the buyer drops the issue, you both save face, and you maintain a peer dynamic.

  4. Counter One Last Thing with One Last Thing. Sometimes the trade is the agreement itself, but you have to counter One Last Thing with One Last Thing. For example, "If we agree to customizing this component instead of using the off-the-shelf version, can we assume we're good to go? That this is the last thing?"

    Sometimes the One Last Thing can be the first in a laundry list of things. Nip this in the bud by calling out that it is, indeed, the last thing, and then...

  5. Get verbal and written commitment to move forward. Once an agreement has been made, get the buyer to commit to it and take the next step. End the discussion by summarizing the agreement, writing it up, and sending to the buyer. Ask the buyer to respond with "yes" to confirm you didn't miss anything.

With the right preparation and approach, you don't have to fall victim to even the most effective negotiation tactics buyers throw at you.

The next time you hear, "We've made a decision and we'd like to move forward with you," you can be confident going into the contract negotiation that you're ready to stand your ground and come up with the best agreement for both parties involved—no matter the economic circumstances. 

The 5 Most Effective Negotiation Tactics Buyers Use on Sellers

Topics: Sales Research Sales Negotiation