The #1 Sales Negotiation Countertactic

When we hear the word “scientist,” we immediately think of Albert Einstein. Einstein cracked the cosmic code. He discovered that the smallest unit of matter yielded the largest quantity of energy. Similarly, in sales-side negotiation, the smallest unit of speech can yield the largest amount of power. Sometimes, small phrases and simple rejoinders create vast amounts of power in negotiation.
Every negotiation boils down to three primary elements: power, tactics, and strategy—the “Iron Triangle” of negotiation.
Tactics are tools to influence the attitude, aspiration level, and behavior of counterparts. Tactics are the language of negotiation. Unfortunately, for untrained sellers, it’s a foreign language.
In Buyer-Side Negotiation, we teach procurement officers, strategic resource agents, and professional buyers twenty-five tactics to secure discounts and concessions from sellers. Correspondingly, in Sales-Side Negotiation, we teach twelve countertactics to neutralize buyer attempts to secure unwarranted discounts and unnecessary concessions.
Of course, each negotiation has its own unique situations and challenges. Our recommended countertactics are not designed to be “cookie cutter” recipes recited like political clichés. However, there are words and phrases that should be used in almost every sales-side negotiation.
Sellers have a laundry list of countertactics to choose from to manage buyer tactics, balance power, and negate price and contract concessions. PHI’s countertactics include: Surprise, Policy & Procedure, Limited Authority, Third Party, Question & Clarify, Reason & Rationale, Fairness, Quid Pro Quo, High Demand, Deadline, Silence, and Triangulation.
The question is: Are all tactics created equal or are some tactics created “more equal than others?” Of the twelve seller countertactics, which is the most effective?
If I had to classify countertactics in order of impact, effectiveness, and simplicity in application, I would rank Fairness as the number one tactic. Here’s why: Fairness is a universal principle that every culture values. It can be extremely difficult to argue against the concept of fairness. Using this countertactic, sellers appeal to a buyer’s sense of fairness in explaining that the demand might not be fair, practical, or reasonable.
Because your selling vernacular and negotiation lexicon enhances or diminishes your ability to successfully negotiate, it is critical to develop the scope of your vocabulary. Used in conjunction with other key words and concepts such as reason, practicality, equity, and consistency, sellers utilize words and phrases that help establish the legitimacy of their price or position.
Examples include:

  • “Fair and equitable”
  • “Fair and reasonable”
  • “Fair and practical”
  • “Fair and consistent”
  • “Fair and competitive”
  • “Fair and minimal”

When a buyer implies or demands that you need to lower your price, you can use Fairness to initially neutralize or negate the demand. For example if a buyer says, “I really like your program, but the price in your proposal is too high,” a seller might respond, “John, in order to be fair and equitable, we offer competitive and consistent pricing to all of our clients.” Or, “Mary, we strive to make our pricing model as fair and practical as possible.” Or, “It’s important that we discuss prices that are fair and reasonable for both parties.”
The key is to use this countertactic in a way that encapsulates the principle of fairness in conjunction with other acceptable and persuasive concepts.