Sales Negotiating Tips to Deal with Jerks

How do you effectively handle people at the negotiating table who are aggressive, intimidating jerks?

Most of us are familiar with a proven sales negotiation strategy that aims for a win-win when the two sides are reasonable parties and have established a common goal.  But many of us are intimidated by a negotiator who attacks and bullies their way toward a settlement.  Negotiating opposite a bully requires a whole different approach.

1.  Maintain Your Composure

First, show that their intimidation tactics do not get to you.  If you stoop to their level of behavior, you reduce your chances of negotiating effectively.  Why?  Because you lose your objectivity and, therefore, your opportunity to truly understand what they want in the end. 

Remember, regardless of the bravado and hyperbolic tactics, you need to clearly understand the other side’s point of view if you want to successfully negotiate a deal that works for you.

2.  Learn All You Can

The best way to understand your opponent’s goal is to learn as much as you can about them and what you are negotiating about before and during the negotiation.  What is their current situation?  What do they hope to gain from you and why?  What matters most to them and why?  What do they know about you and your organization?  What other options do they have? 

This context is critical.  Maybe they are resorting to bad behavior because they feel desperate.  Invest the time to know where they stand and why.

3.  Recap Politely

Listen carefully to what they have to say, not so much how they say it.  Recap what you heard to check for accuracy and show that you paid attention.  Once you clearly understand them and the thinking behind what they are saying, you can offer what you think would solve both of your needs in a way that makes sense.

4.  Give Them Some Space

Now it’s time for some patience.  Let them consider your proposal.  They may need to settle down first before they can really think through what you are offering.  Be prepared to answer any questions they have while consistently tying your offer back to their goals and needs.

5.  Grant Them Some Authority

This sales negotiation tip is often the most difficult for many negotiators.  Why should you cede some power when, from your perspective, they don’t deserve it?  The answer lies in what most bullies really want—assurance that they are not losers but winners.  Let them feel a sense of dominance.

6.  Then Make Your Request

If you couch your request as a way to help them be successful, you are likely to be surprised at how quickly they act as if you are working as a team toward the same goal (a win-win agreement).

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons why some enter the negotiating room on the attack.  They may just have had a bad day or they may think that they can intimidate you into a lopsided agreement.  Top solution sellers:

  • maintain control of their emotions
  • react quietly but with the confidence of knowing their opponent and their subject matter
  • acknowledge the needs and power of the other side
  • state their case as a win for both

To learn more about winning sales negotiating tips, download The 2 Most Common Sales Negotiation Tactics to Prepare For

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