Negotiating with buyers who know more than you do
  • sales
  • Blog post

Negotiating with buyers who know more than you do

Back in the Golden Age of Sales (assuming such a time ever existed), one of the most powerful weapons that a salesperson had was information — specifically, what negotiation experts call “asymmetric” information.

In price negotiations, for example, salespeople knew exactly how low they could go; buyers had to guess. Salespeople probably had a good idea of their competitors’ bottom- line prices too; buyers could only find that out through lengthy and arduous negotiations with each individual vendor. Salespeople might not know how much a given buyer was willing to pay, but they had a good idea of how much a buyer could afford to pay. In short, sellers knew a lot more than buyers did – and could use that information to their advantage.

These days, it’s often buyers who have the upper hand when it comes to information. They can comparison shop online. They can find out how low you’ve gone in the past (or how low someone in your organization was willing to go). They can use negative customer reviews to extract greater concessions. And if they don’t like your response, they can complain to hundreds or even thousands of other buyers.

It’s so unfair.

And yet it’s possible to use the buyer’s superior knowledge to help you win more sales.

Here’s how: If your buyer already knows everything about you, you lose nothing by practicing full disclosure. And you gain tremendous credibility. Your buyer is expecting you to be cagey. Surprise him by being transparent. You got some bad customer reviews? Be the first to bring those reviews up (if your buyer hasn’t seen them yet, she will soon enough). Then when you point out that you’ve gotten 20 times as many good reviews, she’ll be more likely to trust you. Someone posted that your company gave them a 25 percent discount off list price? Admit it cheerfully – then explain what concessions the buyer made to get that price. (Or if that someone is fibbing, pull up the invoice that proves it.)

Don’t be afraid of the information a knowledgeable buyer brings to the table. Don’t try to hide from it. Share what you know freely, and you build credibility.

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