Sales Negotiators Need To Step Into The Other Side’s Shoes For A Bit

If you want to make good decisions, then you need to understand the other side
If you want to make good decisions, then you need to understand the other side

How are you going to help the other side of the table make a decision the next time you sit down to a sales negotiation? It turns out that in order to increase your chances of successfully reaching an agreement, you’re going to have to step into the shoes of the other side of the table and understand how they are seeing the world. Sound difficult? It’s not – I’ll show you how to do it.

Finding The Decision Maker

This is the key to your ability to successfully reach a deal with the other side of the table:you need to identify who the real decision maker is. Keep in mind that the person (or people) who are sitting across from you may not be the real decision-makers.

In my experience, the person who controls the budget that would be used to implement whatever agreement that you might reach is the real decision maker. Additionally, most firms only allow employees in a Director or higher level position to enter into binding legal agreements. Make sure you check people’s titles before the negotiation starts!


Knowing who will ultimately make the decision about any deal that you reach is a good start. The next step is to take the time to understand how this person is currently seeing the world.

What you want to identify and understand are any road blocks that they are currently facing. The reason for this is because the better that you understand what may prevent them from reaching an agreement with you, the easier it will be to address these issues during the sales negotiation.

It’s All About Family

No matter how many people are actually sitting across from you during a sales negotiation,there is a team supporting them behind the scenes. A team, just like a family, always has its own issues.

In order to understand what may hold up your ability to reach a deal with the other side, you are going to have to gain an understanding of how the different parts of the other side’s team work together. One good way to do this is to simply ask pointed questions of the other side. You just might be surprised how much they are willing to tell you.

The Power Of A Deal

One final item that you need to spend some time considering is just what the impact of reaching a deal will have on the other side of the table. Change can be scary and reaching a deal is clearly a major change.

Successfully reaching a deal will be a benefit to some and may turn out to be a setback to others. Some people may have wished to reach a deal with someone else, or perhaps the timing of a deal is going to be inconvenient.

Taking the time to understand who will benefit (and who won’t) from reaching a deal is important. This will give you an opportunity to make sure that you don’t get push back that comes out of left field.

What All Of This Means For You

The reason that we engage in a sales negotiation is because we ultimately want to reach a deal with the other side of the table. It turns out that this goal can be hard to achieve if you don’t understand how the other side is seeing the world.

In order to get a better understanding of what issues may be blocking the other side from reaching a deal,you need to step into their shoes. This includes understanding who the decision maker is, what roadblocks they may be facing, how well their internal team works together, and just what will happen to their power dynamics if a deal is reached.

Role playing is never easy to do. However, in order to be a successful sales negotiator you are going to have to learn how to do this. Just be sure to give the other side their shoes back when you are done with them!

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

Question For You: What is the best way to determine the impact that reaching a deal will have on the other side?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every sales negotiation starts out in a particular way. Sometimes it’s good like when the other side lays out the issues and makes a concession to you right off the bat.Other times it’s bad. You know it’s going to be bad when the first words out of the other side’s mouth are “Give me your best and final offer”. What’s a sales negotiator to do now?