The Best Phrases To Use When Negotiating Discounts

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Mature businessman shaking handLet’s take a look at this from both sides of the fence. If you want to negotiate a discount and you’re a buyer then I’ll give you some phrases to use.

Conversely if you’re a sales person I’m going to give you some phrases on how to counter buyers who are haggling and negotiating for a discount.

So armed with phrases from both sides – may the best person win!

Phrases to use when negotiating a lower price

As a buyer…

We all love a deal, right? But if you negotiate in the wrong way then a well-trained sales person will easily overcome them.

Phrase 1 “How Much!”

You respond to the price in a surprised way. Not jokingly but as though you can’t believe it. After you say it, shut up. You want to draw a reaction from the sales person.

Phrase 2 “XYZ are doing it for £50”

Make sure you’re not telling lies here. It needs to be genuine or you’re just as bad as some of the sales people out there who give the good sales people a bad name. What you’re doing here is to see if they can undercut the competitor and do a deal. You’ve got to make sure that the offer is like for like.

The sales person will come back with why the offers are different so you will need to do your homework beforehand.

Phrase 3 “I’m sorry but you’ll have to do better than that”

Your tonality is everything when you say this. You need to come across that you really want the product or service but you’re really disappointed.

Phrase 4 “I can’t take that to my boss!” or “I can’t take that to my wife/husband”

Use this when you want to shift the emphasis and any uncomfort you have with negotiating and onto another person! You’ll be using them as an excuse as to why this deal cannot take place until the sales person does better.

Phrase 5 “If you can get the price to X I think I can sell that to my boss/wife/husband”

You’re providing a solution here so you’re giving the sales person some hope. So their emphasis might shift to getting this over the line and working with you to do so.

Here are some other quick one liners that you can use:

Soft phrases:

  • “Do you have any flexibility on the price?”
  • “That’s too expensive”
  • “Can you work with me on this?”
  • “I haven’t the budget for that amount”
  • “That’s above my budget”

Assertive phrases:

  • “You’ve got to be joking!”
  • “What!”
  • “I’m not made of money”
  • “You’re not even in the same city with that price”
  • “That’s ridiculous”

Okay, so I’ve given the buyers some tips.

Negotiating phrases

How to response as a sales person…

Here’s some advice.

Your ability to make a profitable sale often hinges on your skills when discussing what price you are willing to settle on for your product.

If you are worried about whether you will make the sale or not, you may well offer a lower price to get the buyer to agree to the sale.

However, buyers are cute (!) and have often been on courses themselves to train on how to negotiate a lower price.

So what can you say that will give you a firm foundation to build on when negotiating a price?

Firstly, you need to find out the REAL reason why your buyer is asking you to lower your price.

The discussion may go something like:

Buyer: You’ll have to do better than that on your price

You: Do you mind me asking why?

Buyer: I’ve got quotes from two other companies and they’re coming out cheaper than you

So, you know that they have been shopping around and are comparing simply on price.

If the buyer was to say ‘Because our budgets have been lowered and I have to keep within certain figures’ then the rationale is different and your approach would change.

So, firstly find out what why they are asking for discount.

Then, discover whether it’s price or cost that is concerning them.

What? Aren’t they the same?


The price would be the ‘ticket price’ or the up-front price they are paying for the product.

The cost would involve the long-term issues they may be facing and it could be a lot different to price.

Suppose your product is more expensive than the competition but yours has a five-year warranty whereas the competition has three.

The extra piece of mind that the longer warranty gives the customer may be the reason for the higher price.

You can then justify the extra they are paying on price by the cost-savings they may get for the longer warranty.

It sounds something like this:

“When you say we’re expensive, are you referring to the price or the cost? If it’s the price, yes we are more expensive, but that’s so we can reduce the costs to you over the long-term. Let me explain….”

Another phrase you could use if you simply can’t match the price the buyer is requesting is to question how a competitor could possibly be that cheap.

You could say something like:

“I am afraid that we can’t match that price. But If I were you, I would be asking myself how can they sell the components at such a low price? I would say that they are sacrificing the quality of the component for price.

But we may have some movement opportunity. If you were to increase your order to 100 per week, then we could lower the unit cost to £25.”

Do you see what you’re doing here?

You’re questioning the validity of the competitor’s offer, while at the same time trading a lower price for a higher order rate.

As long as the buyer realises that you’re not a soft touch, they will see that the benefits of your product would outweigh the lower price.

A good phrase to use when you are checking the validity of the position your buyer is taking is something like:

“What I may be able to consider is…”

This shows that you are willing to work effectively with the buyer, while checking out what they may be willing to move on.

It helps you both set a position from which to negotiate from.

So, if possible, think of how you can use these phrases (personalised for the specific situation you are in) and work with the buyer to see whether you can both get to an agreeable price you are both happy with.

Improve your sales skills further with these 9 Powerful Sales Techniques or with our ISM accredited Professional Sales Training online programme.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Sales DNA

Originally published: 17 August, 2017

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