Negotiation tactics are strategies and techniques used in the process of negotiation to help achieve an individual or group’s objectives. These tactics can be subtle and difficult to detect, so it is important to be aware of them before entering into any negotiation. By understanding common negotiation tactics, you can better prepare yourself to defend your position and achieve your desired outcome. Some common negotiation tactics include:
- Making the first offer: This tactic involves making the first proposal in the negotiation, setting the initial terms and conditions of the negotiation. The person or group making the first offer has an advantage because they can set the terms of the negotiation and establish a baseline for further discussion.
- Leveraging information: This tactic involves using information that you have about the other party or the situation to gain an advantage in the negotiation. For example, if you know that the other party is in a hurry to reach an agreement, you can use that information to negotiate more favorable terms for yourself.
- Playing good cop/bad cop: This tactic involves using two people in the negotiation, with one person taking a hard line and the other taking a more conciliatory approach. This can create confusion and uncertainty for the other party, making them more likely to agree to the terms being proposed.
- Using time pressure: This tactic involves creating a sense of urgency in the negotiation by setting a deadline or limiting the amount of time available for the negotiation. This can create pressure on the other party to agree to the terms being proposed, as they may feel that they don’t have time to negotiate further.
Overall, it is important to be aware of these and other negotiation tactics so that you can be prepared to defend your position and achieve your objectives in any negotiation. The following are illustrative examples of specific tactics.
Coming up with reasons that a deal doesn’t benefit you. For example, pointing out how a product doesn’t meet all of your needs.
The process of responding to objections. For example, they can be simply be ignored or a negotiator might address objections to reduce them. For example, if a customer points out a house is far from schools a real estate agent might point out there is an excellent school a few miles away.
Demanding something that isn’t actually important to you in order to concede it later to make the other side feel they have won.
Making the other side uncomfortable with an awkward silence designed to get them to make the next step.
Request an Offer
It is common to push the other side to make an offer. This can be to your advantage as it shows what they are thinking and allows you numerous responses such as acting as if the offer is out of reason.
Making unjustified assumptions such as an employer who assumes an offer is contingent upon the job candidate starting next week.
Give something and then take it back. For example, a salesperson who offers a 30% discount but later offers a 10% discount.
Hearing what you want to hear as opposed to what is being said.
Claiming that authority to approve a request isn’t in the room. For example, a salesperson who leaves the negotiating table to ask a manager to approve a price. If the price is rejected, the person who rejected it isn’t available to the other side.
Imply that you are able to take negotiations to a higher authority if the other side doesn’t concede. For example, a salesperson who claims to have a line to the customer’s CEO. This might even go so far as implying that the opposing negotiating team may end up in trouble somehow for not reaching a deal.
Changing your dominant negotiator and acting as if everything is starting anew.
Divide & Conquer
Trying to get the other side disagreeing with each other or pointing out inconsistencies in their stated needs and objections. This may throw the other side into disarray or shake their confidence.
Fear of Missing Out
Suggesting that the deal is at risk due to competition from other interested parties. For example, a salesperson who suggests that an item is the last in stock because it is so popular. This is designed to trigger a fear of missing out.
Imply urgency or give ultimatums that suggest a deal must be reached within a short period of time.
If time is on your side, keep delaying things or threaten to delay. For example, salespeople are often in a rush to close a deal to meet their monthly and quarterly targets. This means that customers often have time on their side and can use an offer of a quick decision to gain concessions.
Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt
Label alternatives to your offer as risky, uncertain and unknown. For example, a salesperson from a large firm who casts smaller competitors as being unstable, unreliable, unestablished and generally risky.
Asserting the reverse of what you want. For example, a salesperson that implies a product isn’t right for a customer.
Give Out Wins
Structure negotiations to make the other side feel that they have won. This may extend to each influencer on the other side. For example, it is standard practice to set high sticker prices so that customers feel they have negotiated a good deal.
Respond to concessions with ever increasing demands.
Introduce new obstacles to a deal just as things are about settled.
Propose several offers with one that is obviously better than the others. This may cause the other side to jump at the better offer.
Pitch an offer repeatedly to highlight its benefits and the risks of alternatives. For example, “500k is a steal for this property and it allows you to get the house you want today before someone else makes a better offer and starts a bidding war.”
Cards on the Table
Honestly stating your position and directly saying what you really want. For example, an employer offers a salary of 75k and you say “honestly, there is no way I can accept anything lower than 105k but I am flexible about the start date.”
Formulating proposals whereby both sides compromise something.
Stating the greater context of things to cast minor differences as insignificant. For example, “you saved a little on price but the main thing is that this is the safest car for your family, check the data and crash tests and look at our competition.”
Ask the other side to clarify their goals in order to make a point. “Is it salary or the opportunity to work with the best minds in the industry that is important to you?”
Show that you have nothing else to give. For example, I can give you the 40% discount but the free options you are asking for are simply against our policy.
Ask for a small concession at the very end just before you seal the deal. For example, a customer who asks for a free option just before signing.