Do you know how to use leverage in negotiation? Or are you afraid to come across as demanding, therefore harming your relationship with a prospect? Today’s guest on the Sales Reinvented podcast—Steve Hall—shares how you can use leverage in negotiation that creates a mutually beneficial outcome for all sides.
Steve is the Managing Director of Executive Sales Coaching of Australia and is recognized as Australia's leading authority on selling at sea level. He is a member of the Sales Experts Channel and has been a finalist in several categories in the Top Sales World Awards. Don’t miss out on his expertise in negotiation—listen now!
Negotiation is an important part of life. It’s also an integral part of the entire selling and business process. With it being such a normal part of our existence, why do salespeople hate it so much? Steve believes that salespeople want to be liked and prefer not to make demands of people. They’re afraid to negotiate because they’re afraid they will lose the deal. They have this faulty belief that the customer has all of the power and leverage in negotiation. This belief stems from a complete lack of formal negotiation training for salespeople. Of course they don’t like it, because they don’t understand it. And you fear what you can’t understand.
Steve emphasizes negotiation preparation begins with: research, research, research. You must understand what your outcome is, and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s not typically about money and usually other factors are involved. It isn’t just making a sale or completing a contract—but an outcome that works for both sides. What is their desired outcome? What are they trying to achieve? Who are you talking to—procurement? Or are you negotiating with the CEO?
The key is knowing what you want, knowing what they want, and anticipating what they might demand and ask for. Anticipate what you can offer. Having things ready increases the chance of leveraging the negotiation and getting what you want while giving the other person what they want. You must also remember, If you’ve been dealing with someone 6–12 months, they have skin in the game, too.
Steve sold software in the 90s and his customers would often delay their decision-making when they were nearing the end of the year. They knew if they delayed long enough they had the potential to squeeze in some year-end deals. Conversely, if the other party has a strong deadline they have to meet—and you don’t—it’s negotiation leverage in your favor. Another tactic you can use to leverage the negotiation? Get your counterpart to agree to a small decision. This increases the likelihood that they’ll commit to a larger decision down the road.
Steve references a TV Show called Black Books (about a bookshop in England) to drive home his point about properly using leverage in a negotiation. In an episode of the show, a customer comes up to the counter and says “This book is being sold for 5 pounds, can I have it for 4 pounds?” The owner acquiesces—but tears out the last chapter before selling it to the customer. The next day, the customer comes back and says “I’ve got to know what happens!” and the bookshop owner says “Sure! Give me twenty pounds.” He had all the leverage on his side, and the customer had no choice but to comply.
Steve shares another story from a move two years ago. He moved houses and had to get his phone reconnected. He went to the phone company and was trying to set it up, but also wanted to set up streaming services. They said they couldn’t set it up immediately as he had requested because the phone wasn’t connected—but they’d send the box two weeks later because “It was their policy.” He asked to speak to a supervisor and was still turned down.
So he went online and found an article in which the Managing Director of Customer service was interviewed. The article was all about how they had transformed their customer service and were customer-focused. Their main motto was “Yes we can.” So he called customer service again and mentioned he was writing an article about their customer service. He pointed out that the article the Managing Director was interviewed in didn’t meet the reality he was facing. He allowed them to respond—and they sent him the box and the service was active shortly after.
He created leverage by using their own words to his favor and he got exactly what he wanted. The moral of the story? Always find leverage in negotiation.
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK