How to Negotiate in a Sales Conversation

By Bob Morrell on August 21, 2015

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to sell my wife’s old car – a VW Sharan. It’s been an interesting experience receiving enquiries from different types of potential buyer. Incidentally, if anyone’s interested it’s still for sale! It’s up for £1675.

Two calls I have had, stand out. The first one said ‘We are 20 miles away, would you take £1200?’ This is on the phone, they have not seen the car. I said ‘Come and see the car and if you want it then we’ll negotiate a price.’ Would you buy a car you have not seen? Or driven? Why would I agree to £1200 and then they arrive and realise they don’t want it at all? That wastes both our time. Isn’t it worth an hour of their time to confirm if they either a) want the car or b) not? If they don’t it then they’ve wasted an hour but SAVED £1200. If they buy it for a little more because they believe it’s worth a little more then isn’t that a good thing?

I had another call ‘If I come from Stevenage will you take £1200?’ So I am supposed to offer a £475 discount to make up for the fact you’ve had a 1.5 hour drive to buy the car? This is ridiculous! ’There’s no point in me coming to see it if you won’t budge on price’ he said - ‘Well, if you want it then maybe I will budge on price, but there’s no point in me agreeing to £1200 on the phone then you see it and then go for £1000'… this is clearly absurd!

This ‘asking for a discount up front without commitment or obligation’ is a dangerous game.

Transfer it to business – let’s imagine you are selling holidays on the phone: The customer says ‘I’ve seen your holiday for £4500. Would you take £3500 and I'll agree to think about it?’ What would you say?

You’re selling software to a business. The customer says ‘Your proposal is £1 million. Would you take £700k and I’ll agree to a meeting to consider it.’

One tip I think is very useful is to flip it:

1. What are you going to give me to make it worth my while to discount your holiday?

2. What’s the advantage to me to accept £700k in advance of an agreement?

Get them yo explain their strategy – do they really want money off? Or do they want the best product at the best price?

Incidentally the car is pretty good for the age, and I’m pretty relaxed about what it goes for, but I am NOT going to agree to a price in ADVANCE of a viewing. Just be aware!