Two Secret Ways To Break Down Firm Prices During A Negotiation

by drjim on April 9, 2010

No Price Is Ever Set In Stone

No Price Is Ever Set In Stone

When I was younger, I always liked to read those stories that had a knight in shining armor showing up at just the right time, dueling with the fire-breathing dragon, winning, and then riding off into the sunset with the princess. As I became older, I learned that there are no more knights, that there are far too few princesses, but that dragons still do exist. In sales negotiations we encounter them quite often – today’s dragons go by a different name: fixed prices. It turns out that with a little guidance from knights of yore, we can still find ways to defeat them…

Powerful Technique #1: Higher Authority

There is no such thing as a fixed price that can’t be moved. That’s always been my philosophy and I’m sticking with it. The next time that you bump into one of these “dragons” during a sales negotiation, do some preliminary exploring with the other side of the table.

You’re going to discover one of two things: either the price is not really a fixed price (yea!) or yes indeed it really is fixed. In the case that you discover that the other side is committed to not changing their price, you need to take a different course of action.

As scary as it might be, this is the time to push the “talk to a higher authority” button. Since the other side of the table is not budging, you really have nothing to lose by going over their head. When you do this, amazing things can happen.

Not to make any concessions on the firm fixed price may have been orders that were given to the other side of the table that you were negotiating with. There may have been very little reasoning behind this instruction – it was just seen as a set of good criteria for the other side to follow.

By moving the discussion up the chain of command, you may be able to open the door to more pricing flexibility. A more senior manager will have a different view of where the other side of the table is trying to get to and based on what you are willing to offer to them, may be more inclined to make that fixed price not so fixed.

Powerful Technique #2: Leave!

The next time that you run into a fixed price that you just can’t get to move down, stand up and leave. For Americans this is very, very difficult to do. For folks from other parts of the world it’s just a normal way of doing business.

Sales negotiating is all about sending and receiving signals. One of the strongest signals that we can send is that we are dissatisfied with the way that things are going. Standing up and leaving sends this message in no uncertain terms to the other side of the table.

Hopefully it goes without saying that leaving a sales negotiation is just the first part of a play with many parts. After you leave, you need to come back. Having sent your message to the other side the goal is now see how they have decided to react. With a little luck, what used to be a non-negotiable fixed price has become something that might have some play to it. This leave / return process can occur several times during the course of a single sales negotiation.

What All Of This Means For You

Encountering a fixed price during a sales negotiation can often make you feel like a knight who’s just entered a dragon’s lair. However, never say never – there are always many different ways to explore whether or not a price is really fixed.

One powerful technique is to bypass the other side of the table and appeal directly to their higher authority. This can often open doors that were previously closed. Another approach is to get up and leave the negotiating table. This sends a clear message to the other side and can restart discussions that have previously hit a brick wall.

Yes, sometimes a price really is fixed. However, in most cases it just takes some clever action on your part to find a way to turn a fixed price into a successful deal.

Question For You: What technique has worked the best for you to get around a fixed price during a sales negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Much has been written (some of it by me) about what a sales negotiator can do when the other side of the table has set a fixed price and just won’t budge. This time out, let’s switch sides and spend some time talking about what you can do to defend your price when you are the seller – how do you counter all of those clever tactics that the other side has?

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