The Buyer’s Tactics






If you’ve ever thumbed through an airline magazine you’ve seen the ads for negotiating workshops. They appeal primarily to buyers and, consequently, buyers often are far more prepared than most salespeople.  Let’s explore some of their tactics.

  • Playing one supplier off against the other.

This is the oldest trick in the book.   But it’s an effective one since salespeople tend to take the prospect at his word, despite the fact that occasionally prospects mislead salespeople.  Unfortunately there’s nothing in the rulebook that says the prospect has to be able to prove they have a better offer from a competitor.

  • Getting the salesperson to make the first offer.

“You’ll have to do better” is a statement often used by the prospect to get the salesperson to state a position.  Falling into the trap, most salespeople will suggest an alternative, such as a 5% price reduction.  Having made that “offer” now becomes the best price you will ever realize on this deal, and often the negotiation starts from this new level.  This is bad news for the salesperson.

  • Splitting the difference.

If the prospect is successful in getting the salesperson to make the first offer, and then counters that offer with something lower (“I was thinking10%, not 5%”), splitting the difference can seem like a “fair” way to resolve the issue, and offers the prospect of getting the deal done without further negotiation.  The problem is that the deal will be done on the prospect’s terms, not yours.

  • The flinch.

This maneuver strikes fear in the heart of most salespeople, putting them on the defensive immediately, and giving the prospect the advantage.  It’s such a simple move.  If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it plays out.  When the salesperson quotes the price to the prospect, the prospect immediately responds by saying, “Wow, that’s a lot more than I thought it would be,” or words to that effect.  Accompanying the words with the appropriate body language and tonality, the message to the seller is clear – lower your price or this will be over quickly.  Almost reflexively, sellers respond with some sort of price concession in an effort to stay in the game.   These tactics can be viewed as manipulation on the part of the prospect, but no one said it had to be a fair fight.  Recognize it for what it is and deal with it.  Remember, knowledge is power.

By the way, you can use the very same tactics on the buyer; you just have to be proactive and use them first.