In some cases, of course, buyers will continue to press for a better deal, and getting the order will require more than posturing—it will require real negotiation. In real negotiation, there are two key components: get and give. Note the nontraditional sequence of these two words, which is deliberate: get, then give.
Throughout the buying cycle, as noted in previous chapters, the seller should be trying to establish an atmosphere of quid pro quo. This is sometimes hard to sustain, since the buyer has been conditioned to wield disproportionate power with traditional vendors and sellers. But when the seller is offering a way for the buyer to achieve a goal or solve a problem, he or she doesn’t deserve to get run roughshod over. Prior to giving, therefore, the seller should first ask for something from the buyer. Why?
If the seller offers a concession, the buyer will take it and still want a lower price.
The psychology is to convince the buyer that he or she is getting the best possible deal. If the buyer first has to make a concession, the seller’s concession will appear to have more value.
If the buyer will not agree to a concession, the seller should leave without offering what he or she was willing to give, and without burning the bridge.
Getting the buyer’s commitment first allows a conditional “give.” This empowers the seller either to get an order or to leave without setting a lower number that will become the basis for subsequent negotiating meetings.
There are many different things a seller can ask for. Our suggestion is that it be something that is of value to the seller that causes the buyer to “put some skin” into the negotiation. Examples could be
A deposit up front, with the balance due in 30 days
A larger transaction (accelerating the order of future requirements)
A longer lease term or maintenance commitment
A press release documenting results
An introduction to another division or department
It should be noted that the seller cannot ask the buyer to commit to providing the “get” that is requested. The question is whether it would be possible for the buyer to do what is being asked. For example:
Seller: For me to consider a concession, I need something from you.
Buyer: What do you have in mind?
Seller: Would it be possible to extend the maintenance contract from 1 year to 2, and for you to serve as a reference for four prospects over the next 12 months?
Buyer: I don’t see a problem with extending the maintenance agreement. And, assuming our implementation is successful, l could serve as a reference for you.
Seller: If you extend the maintenance agreement and agree to be a reference, I’m willing to include our forecasting module, which has a value of $10,000, at no additional cost. Would you like to move forward?
Buyer: Is that the best you can do?
Seller: It is. Can we move forward?
Buyer: Make the changes to the agreement, and let’s go ahead.
In short, our approach to negotiating makes use of things the seller learned during the buying cycle and attempts to foster a spirit of quid pro quo in order to get to the actual closing under acceptable terms.