One of the complaints I hear from salespeople is that “the customer has all the power” these days in sales negotiations.

They can search online and find some guy in Duluth who sells it for less. They can find out what your other buyers paid, or what kinds of extras they were able to finagle, and demand the same. They can e-mail your offer to your competitors and ask if they can do better. And if you don’t like it, buddy, well, you better suck it up and smile – or expect to get trashed on the Web.

I’m not buying the argument. Here’s why:

If your buyer really wanted to deal with the guy in Duluth, she’d be dealing with the guy in Duluth. The truth is, she’s still talking to you because she sees some potential value in buying from you. Maybe it’s convenience. Maybe it’s geography. Maybe it’s your reputation. Maybe your stuff is better.

The point is, a negotiation is an exercise in shared power. If a customer really had “all the power,” you wouldn’t be negotiating at all. You’d just be taking orders.

So never approach a negotiation as a victim. You’ve earned the right to be there.

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