Robin Sharma wisely said, "Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well." Have you ever been on the verge of closing a deal, when suddenly one seemingly harmless phrase changes your client’s mind? You’re not alone, even the best salespeople have had this happen to them.
Unsuspecting comments can occasionally turn off a prospect or make them question our capacities. The best sales negotiation training experts recommend using role-playing and simulations to become skilled at avoiding these types of phrases. Here are the most common sale-killing phrases to watch out for in your next meeting.
"The least I can accept is..."
This phrase is limiting in nature and immediately eliminates any potential pricing wiggle room you may have had before. To put it simply, it’s a poor business practice to stand and hold your ground no matter what kind of deal your prospect may be willing to cut. The buyer views this not as your minimum, but as their ceiling.
Additionally, this phrase communicates a hard stance, meaning there probably won't be further negotiation. The phrase tells the client they should pay that price, or walk.
A better alternative to communicating your intention would be to make an offer and list the values the offer delivers for the stated price. By making an offer with listed values, the buyer feels free to negotiate on the price by reducing the value you have included. Furthermore, creating a value exchange gives you the opportunity to get an even better price by padding the offer with more value.
The big lesson to remember here is to avoid close ended phrases like the plague.
"I know you probably don't… BUT"
You can finish this phrase in many different ways and the outcome will still more than likely lead to a failed deal. Some examples include:
I know you probably don't have the time, but...
I know you probably don't have room in your budget for this, but...
I know your customers may not readily jump on this, but...
I know your staff may resist the training for this, but...
I know your managers may not quickly adjust to this, but...
I know you've probably never heard about this, but...
The above examples show a lack of confidence and puts you in a bad light. As a salesperson, your main focus should be asking questions to figure out the best way to frame your product into their business. However, with the above sentences, you're telling your prospect how your product may not be the right fit for them but you need them to ‘do you a favor’ and just take a look.
By saying “I know… but”, you’re digging yourself into a hole, making the sale much harder. Moreover, this is self-defeating language as you have just spoon fed the prospect a legitimate, thought-out reason why not to buy.
A focused negotiation training session can help you by making a habit of avoiding negative framing of your product and, instead, communicating your value. To bridge the gap between the value you see and the value they see, focus on the often overlooked aspect of selling; the amount of money your product will save them, as opposed to how much more money it will make them.
"Sure, I'll bring in my manager"
From the buyer’s perspective, this communicates your inability to represent your company well, and therefore the company’s inadequacy as a whole.
This phrase also conveys the message that the prospect hasn't been negotiating with the decision-maker.
Secondly, the prospect may treat any offers and discounts you may have made so far as their baseline for new negotiations. With a new baseline, your manager faces pressure to make an even better offer (worse for you, better for the buyer) with higher discounts and loss of value to your organization.
Finally, your manager’s ability to close a deal may be diminished due to the lack of prep-time they had to pull together a winning pitch. Bringing in your manager only works if there's an already established strong rapport to support joint negotiating.
Nonetheless, a better alternative to bringing in your manager would be to find out what the client may be unhappy with. Is the client is looking for different terms? Does the client want some surety that the contract will be fulfilled?
"This is our price but we can give you a discount"
If you make mention of discounts right off the bat, then your offer is immediately rendered obsolete. First of all, you have no idea what they’re willing to pay for your product, so why would you lower the price immediately?
Offering a discount that your prospect hasn't asked for instantly takes money out of your company’s pockets. Additionally, the client may think that you were trying to rip them off.
Instead, find out what your client's needs are, and what they’re willing to spend on your product. If the buyer's budget seems too tight, suggest a limited package rather than a discount.
If eventually, a discount seems the best route to take, apply win-win strategies as learned in negotiation training. Offer contract terms that bring real benefits to your organization. Maybe you can offer discounts if the client agrees to pay upfront, or if they sign up for long-term high-quantity deliveries. Don't just offer a lower price at the first sign of pressure. Rather, create the conditions for a deal that is mutually beneficial.
If you're proposing a price range to a buyer, know that your buyer will take no notice of anything except the lower limit of that range. After your proposal, the lower limit will form the baseline for negotiations and the prospect will still expect discounts.
Instead of making a price offer of between $150 and $200 per piece, settle on a specific price such as $180. Try to avoid broad ranges in price and gray areas in contract terms. Be direct and confident by proposing reasonable terms with just enough margin for negotiation.
In sales negotiations, knowing what NOT to say is just as important as knowing what to say. You can greatly improve your sales quotas by using the right words and avoiding deal-killing language.
Some phrases might seem harmless or even polite but can end up depreciating your product’s value.