This Subtle Shift Can Make A Real Difference In Negotiations

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

NegotiationWhen it comes to negotiating, many salespeople worry about their ability to get the best price for their products while still offering the prospect the terms and conditions that they would see as a ‘good deal’.

Often, negotiating in the real world involves giving away more than you receive, conceding more than you trade. Few salespeople realise the subtle ways that can be used to assure you don’t give away too much, and that the prospect’s mindset is focused on value rather than just price.

Here’s a concept that will make a real difference when negotiating.

Compare these two statements….

1) If I were to offer you 15% discount now, would you sign today?”

2) If you were to agree to sign up today, I may be able to offer you 15% discount”

Did you notice the subtle difference? You may say it’s just semantics, but it’s important you recognise how the to different sentences affect the mindset of the prospect. It all revolves around the concept of the ‘conditional clause’

In the first sentence, the prospect hears the phrase “Offer you 15% discount…” first. This means that the salesperson has the power and authority to do just that. The Law of Primacy states that a person will listen to and remember the first or most important thing mentioned, in this case the fact that 15% discount can be given.

For many trained buyers, this is the starting point for negotiation. They think that if 15% has been offered, that is the base-line. Their reply may well be, “So you can offer me 15% if I sign today…what can you go up to to make me say I must sign today?”

You’ve basically given away the discount as your starting point, and the prospect has jumped on that fact.

How about the second sentence? In this one, the condition is determined in the first phrase. Based on the fact that the prospect signs today, then and only then, can the 15% discount be considered. That’s the condition that has to be met before the discount can be given.

The prospect hears the fact that the confirmation has to met first before the discount is offered. They may ask again whether the discount can be increased, but the offer is always conditional on signing today.

It’s a subtle shift that can make a real difference in the way you negotiate. Try it and see if works for you.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 11 April, 2013

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