Sales Negotiators Know How To Ask “How Much?”

by drjim on November 12, 2010

If you don't know how much it's going to cost, then your in big trouble

If you don’t know how much it’s going to cost, then your in big trouble

Sometimes it’s the littlest of things that can trip up even a professional sales negotiator. In this case, we often don’t want to ask the one question that we need to ask the other side of the table:”how much does that cost”. In the end, this can end up costing us a great deal…

Why Don’t We Ask “How Much”?

This seems like such a trivial issue, and yet it all too often turns out to be a big deal in the end. The question that we need to find an answer to is just exactly why we don’t seem to be able to remember to ask the other side how much something is going to end up costing us.

There are a lot of different reasons whywe don’t feel comfortable doing this, but getting to the reason that is holding each of us back is something that is important for each of us to do. One big reason is often that we fear that simply by asking the other side how much something costs, we’re going to cause them to raise their price to us.

Other reasons can include not wanting to get involved ina long, drawn-out negotiating session(go figure that!) that could result if the other side’s price is to high. Another reason could be that we fear what asking for a price will communicate to the other side of the table about what we think of them. Like perhaps we really don’t trust them and we’re checking up on what they’ll be charging us.

Why Not Asking Is The Wrong Thing To Do

The primary reason that not taking the time to ask the other side how much something is going to cost is a bad idea is because it can quite easily end upcosting you a great deal of money. This is a case where what you don’t know can come back and haunt you.

When you are negotiating with the other side of the table and you don’t askthem how much something is going to cost you, then you are making an assumption about how much it’s going to cost. This assumption is not necessarily correct.

The farther that you go into the negotiations without clarifying this issue,the stronger your self-generated belief in what the price is going to bewill become. After awhile, you won’t even think to ask the other side how much because you’ll assume that the number that you are picturing in your head is the same number that they have in their head.

It’s disconnects like this that can easilytrip up a sales negotiationin the 11th hour. Assumptions that have been made about price turn out to be not true and that can screw everything up at the last minute.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the most important questions that you can ask during a sales negotiation is”how much”. Although this sounds easy to do, it turns out that for most of us it’s actually quite difficult to do.

The reasons that it’s so difficult to dovary from negotiator to negotiator. However, it generally has to do with either not wanting to upset the negotiations or from a false sense that both sides have the same price in their heads.

When you are involved in a sales negotiation, take the time to ask “how much” every time the other side makes a proposal to you. It mayfeel a bit awkwardthe first few times that you say it; however, over time you’ll get comfortable using this power phrase and you’ll be amazed at just how much information you’ll get by using it!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Can you think of a case in which asking “how much” would not be appropriate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How would you like to end up spending the next year in court and costing your company many millions of dollars?Not a good way to manage your IT Leader career, eh?Too many of us risk doing this whenever we try to fill an IT position without first clearly defining what the job is…

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