When to Disengage
There may be a time when you find yourself in a situation in which a buyer is asking for something that you, as the salesperson, do not know how to respond to. When this happens, it’s important to remember that an agreement does not need to be reached in one meeting.
It’s okay to disengage from the discussion to gather more information, but there is a right, and a wrong way to exit the conversation.
What not to do
In order to negotiate effectively, one must present oneself as the lead negotiator and final arbiter. To suggest otherwise, at any point, is to cede authority irrevocably. It’s a credibility issue that need never arise.
Yet, if you tell a buyer, “I have to talk to my manager.” You might just as well say, “There’s really no point in talking with me. I’m just the go-between for my boss.”
How to buy yourself time
It’s true that you may in fact need some help from your boss, but you’ll keep your credibility if you say something like, “It’s clear this is important to you. I’ll reflect on it and get back to you.”
There is no shame in tabling a question. In fact, time can be an asset and help you create a better deal.
You can also set yourself up for the next conversation by lowering the expectations. Saying something like, “I’ll have to work on that. What if I am unable to do what you’ve asked?”
Asking this is a fair question during a negotiation. Remember that the buyer is attempting to get the best deal they can, just as you are. Their request may be a deal breaker, but they may also just be seeing how many concessions you will give them.
Move the conversation along
Before you end the conversation, try asking, “What else is at issue?”
This will broaden the discussion and perhaps uncover other points that will allow for an agreement that satisfies both parties.
One of the toughest negotiating problems is getting stuck on a single issue, especially if it’s a zero-sum issue. The seller can empty the buyer’s gun by getting all of the objections out on the table and turning potentially fatal shots into “bullets” for discussion.
Get even more of Steve’s insights on how to strengthen your position and achieve results in Negotiating with the Savvy Software Buyer.