Tricks in the Trade

From an article from Warwickshire College:

You already know all the tricks people use in negotiations, because you've already heard them all or used them all yourself. Let's have a look at the more common ones.

"But that's all I can afford"

This may be absolutely true, or this may be a ruse to get you to discount or meet someone's price demand. If this is true then the person genuinely cannot afford what they want and should not be looking. If this is false then it's a nice try. In either case, standing up to this will force them to either back away or offer more...

From the other point of view, sales people will tell you that their price is already at rock bottom and they can't afford to discount any further. In that case, you have to decide if you are looking at products that you really can't afford, or if this is a trick. In either case, walk away and see what happens.

"You'll have to ask my husband/wife/boss"

...As with all the tricks, this works both ways. A salesperson will defer to a boss - real or imaginary - to make a decision, and may even come back from that conversation with a tempting special offer if you sign right away. Don't be fooled by this.

A buyer will often find the final decision is just too much pressure and will defer to someone with more authority - often a trick to give themselves time or to back away completely.

"That's expensive, I only paid x last time"

That was last time, this is this time. If the previous supplier was willing to give away the product or service at a ridiculous price then that's their lookout. It's always better to negotiate some good business than lots of bad business.

"The other guy said it would be cheaper"

Other guys have a tendency to do that...Ask "which other guy? What did he look like? When was this?" If they can tell you, there may well be another guy. If they can't remember, they're probably making it up.

"I'll meet you half way"

A very reasonable and fair sounding offer that gets you to pull your selling price down or your buying price up. You can't say no, because it sounds so fair. Or can you?

"How much for just this bit? And this bit? And this bit?"

Breaking a package down into components is an excellent way to erode the price...Remember - if your product or service is a package, keep it that way. You can achieve the same result by asking a supplier to itemise their quote.

"I just don't want to pay that much"

Well, at least they're honest. What can you do? They've effectively given you an ultimatum. You either accept their price or walk away. In fact, what they're really telling you is "I want your product or service but you haven't created enough value yet".

You have a simple choice - either build up the perceived value or remove cost in order to meet their target price...

Time or availability limited offers

If an offer is valid today, it will be valid tomorrow - if they want your business enough. You'll see this in general terms, in retail - "sale must end Saturday" - and you'll see it in specific terms too - "if you agree to this now then I will do x". Remember - "now" is a very flexible thing, so don't allow yourself to be put under pressure. There are very few products in this world that are so variable in price that you can't afford to make a proper decision. The same applies to "buy now, limited quantities available". Remember, there's only a limited quantity of everything on the planet, so it's not a good reason to give in!

"I'll think about it"

This means "no". Treat it as a "no" and act accordingly. Either write off the negotiation or challenge them directly - "what can I do to help you make the right decision?"


This means maybe, but you haven't completely convinced me yet. The key is in their behaviour, not in their words. If they are still talking to you, they're still interested."

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