Imagine you sell telecommunications solutions and you are making your final presentation to the board of a call centre provider.

It’s a major proposal, and when you have finished the managing director smiles and comments, ‘This looks to be a very impressive solution. However, before we go any further, may I ask you about the £56,000 price you have quoted? Is that negotiable?’

The customer is testing the price. That’s a perfectly reasonable thing for an intelligent executive to do. How do you handle it?

This is where negotiation training can help. Let’s look at the options. If you say ‘no’, it sounds very strong. It also invariably sounds like a form of attack. That tends to hurt the relationship by making people feel they are being pushed around. You may also lose the business on the price objection, so this response is to be avoided.

On the other hand, if you say ‘yes’, your price is going to be reduced for sure. You are sounding weak and a skilled negotiator will gleefully take advantage of that.

A terrific phrase that has helped thousands of sellers is to reply, ‘We are always willing to listen to any constructive ideas that will improve the acceptability of our proposals.’

You haven’t said ‘no’ and you haven’t said ‘yes’. Instead you are leaving the door open for further discussion. That’s a hallmark of a mature negotiator. Your answer has the consultative-partner style stamped all over it and is one of the most professional skills you can use.

Your customer will probably respond ‘What sort of constructive ideas?’, to which you say, ‘If you agree to x then we can agree to y.’ Then you are straight into a normal negotiation.

We cover this tactic and many more in our Professional Negotiation Skills course. We also run a specialist Fee Negotiation workshop for lawyers and accountants.

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