Why Professional Sales Negotiators Build A House Of Straw

by drjim on October 22, 2010

Using Straw Issues During A Negotiation Can Give You More Shelter

Using Straw Issues During A Negotiation Can Give You More Shelter

In order to make your next sales negotiation a success, you are going to end up having to make some concessions. Knowing that you’re going to end up having to do this means that you’re going to need to have some strategies up you sleeve relating to how you want to manage your concessions. One time-honored way to make the whole concession thing work out for you is to use “straw issues”. Let me explain myself…

What Is A Straw Issue?

A sales negotiation is simply a discussion about a set of issues. The number of issues that are being discussed can play a big role in the eventual outcome of the negotiations. The more issues that you have to discuss, the greater the probability that you’ll be able to reach an agreement with the other side of the table.

This is where straw issues come in. Straw issues are throwaway issues that you put on the table. You really don’t care that much about them; however, you present them to the other side along with your real issues. Their real value to you is in that they have an exchange value.

The beauty of straw issues is that the other side won’t be able to tell the difference between your real issues and your straw issues. This means that they’ll see your straw issues as being just as important as all of the other issues and assume that they need to be solved if a deal is to be reached.

How To Use Straw Issues

Face it – you’re going to end up surrendering your straw issues during the course of a sales negotiation. This shouldn’t be a big deal – that’s why the straw issues are there in the first place.

What you need to understand is what giving up a straw issue is going to do for the negotiations. The other side will feel an immense sense of satisfaction when they “win” on the straw issue. It will be a trophy that the other side will be able to show to their management. Additionally, the negotiator on the other side will feel a sense of relief just because another issue is off of the table now – they are that much closer to reaching a deal.

How A Buyer Should Deal With Straw Issues

Straw issues are a buyer’s best friend. You should make sure that at the start of the negotiations that you ask for more than you really want. This can include such things as the amount of time that you’ll have to pay for what you are buying, increasing your credit limit, changes to the warrantee, etc.

Keep in mind that you won’t actually get everything that you are asking for. That’s not the purpose here. Just by giving in on some of the issues that you don’t care about you’ll make progress towards the negotiating goal that you want to achieve.

How A Seller Should Deal With Straw Issues

As a seller, you’ve got to realize that there will always be straw issues on the table during any negotiation. This can be a powerful internal tool for you: as you clear the straw issues off of the table your management will believe that you are doing good work.

Just because the other side of the table shows up with a lengthy set of issues that they want to discuss, don’t despair. Recognize that many of the issues that they are presenting don’t really count and work to find out which one’s do matter. Most of the time you can get the other side to fold on most of the non-essential issues fairly quickly – unless they are an expert negotiator!

What All Of This Means For You

Half of the art of sales negotiating is knowing when to give in. It turns out that even this part of a negotiation can be managed. The use of straw issues can make your negotiating job a lot easier.

Straw issues are valid issues that you really don’t care about. By including them in the negotiations you provide yourself with additional ammo when it comes time to make concessions. Giving in on a straw issue can make the other side happy while not eroding your position on more important issues.

In the end straw issues are one more negotiating tactic that you have available during your next sales negotiation. Study it and you’ll understand how to use this powerful tool in order to strike better deals.

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

Question For You: How many straw issues do you think that you should include in your initial list of issues to be negotiated?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there you are in a sales negotiation, you like what is being offered to you but there is one small problem. You don’t have enough money to buy it. What can you do? Walking away is of course one option; however, maybe there’s something else that you can do. It turns out that this is right time for you to pull out the bogey tactic and give it a try.

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