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8 Killer Negotiation Tricks Clients Don't Want You To Know

I have been writing about negotiation tricks for a while now. Well, this is the final nail.

Who isn’t trying to negotiate? As we speak, entrepreneurs are trying to convince investors, corporate giants are trying to convince their clients, and a dad somewhere is trying to get his son to do his homework — we negotiate every day! The aim of my series of posts is to explain certain negotiation tricks and techniques which have worked for me in dealing with people all over the world — across race, ethnicity, cultures, and ages.

Starting with the premise that everybody is a good guy and that at times it is important to say less and listen more, we discussed negotiation tricks such as using the Benjamin Franklin effect or the Foot in the Door technique and spoke about the ways you can frame a killer sales pitch. This is the last one in the series and what I believe will be the most actionable.

Here are 8 killer negotiation tricks which can give you an advantage in many scenarios. Use them with discretion — not all are applicable all the time. I will try to drop a hint on their applicability under each technique, but you remain the final authority when it comes to deciding on which one to use.

1. “I am not authorized to decide.”

When you are at the negotiation table, do not commit that you are the decisive authority even if you are. Leave room for people to think you can turn down even their best deal because there is someone else beyond you who will make the final call.

Why? Three reasons. One, it keeps your client on the edge and does not let him think he has “looped you in.” This slight uncertainty may lure him to make better offers. Two, it will give you time to think. You can walk out saying “I will get back to you as soon as possible,” and study the details carefully before making a final call. Three, If you did not like the deal, you can back down without being the bad guy.

You say something like this:

“Okay. Let me get back to you after discussing with my legal team about your offer. I will call you back.”

“Sorry son, I cannot decide on this. Your mother has the final say when it comes to desserts after dinner.”

2. Company policy

When you do not accept a certain proposal, use the words “Company policy.” It is the truth and it diverts responsibility, making you sound innocent and helpless. Rules are made for a reason, so use them to your advantage.

“Sorry, I will need the 10% today if you want to seal this deal. It’s company policy. I cannot hold it for you otherwise.”

“I understand, but it’s against company policy to let you leave so early. It’s out of my hands, sorry.”

3. Pre-drafted deals

If I ask my wife “Do you want to go to that party?” she might refuse. If I ask her “So, when do we leave for that party?” She is more likely to tell me a time. The same question can be put across in two ways — one in your favor and the other against.

If I want you to accept a certain clause, I will put it in the contract and ask you to opt out of it if you wish to do so rather than to opt in.

Internet subscription forms often have a field at the bottom: “I want to Subscribe to the Newsletter” which is usually ticked for you. Since most internet users are highly reluctant to click off that button, they will leave it as is and keep getting junk mail for the rest of their lives! Know what I mean?

The same goes for your personal relationships. Frame your questions according to the answer you are looking for. These negotiation tricks often work like a charm.

Enough said — take the hint!

4. Always reject the first offer

As a rule of thumb, do not accept the first offer. It will most definitely favor the other side. Even if the first offer seems great, pause, think, and reluctantly refuse. Wait for the next one. If you are in a fixed price negotiation (as in there is only one offer — take it or leave it), try to get better sub-offers which are not necessarily economic benefits.

For example, if they are selling you a holiday package and the company won’t budge on the price of the holidays, let them give you bonuses like additional nights, welcome drinks, chocolates, early check-ins, etc. You will be surprised by how many benefits are in the hands of the company executive without affecting their profits at all. Both of you walk out smiling. A perfect win-win, right?

That is what these negotiation tricks are aimed at — creating a win-win for both of you. If you manage to seal a substandard deal, thus cheating the other person, it will come back to bite you someday — you know where!

5. Biased choices

Everyone likes a multiple choice question. It reduces the options to a known minimum instead of requiring you to sift through an uncertain infinite number of options. You can easily lead the negotiation in your favor by introducing a certain finite number of choices, all of which are in your favor.

Think about these lines of conversation:

We have been to Thailand already. Let’s do Hong Kong, Macau, or Philippines this time. The choice is yours.”

“Sir, we are offering you a choice of colors between blue, azure, and white. All of these will cost you the same — please choose.”

“You can choose between paying today and getting that discount of 10% or paying next month but losing the discount.”

“Okay, son. Here are your choices: a day of voluntary service for my club, or help me out at home for two days.”

Negotiation tricks are all about techniques that play with the mind.

6. Decide on the agenda

As long as you control the meeting or host it, you can control the agenda to benefit your cause. You may simply leave out certain topics from the agenda so that they never come up or place a certain topic for acceptance in the beginning (typically make it the second item, not the first, for maximum impact). If you chair the meeting, you can decide the flow of decisions by placing emphasis on certain topics more than others.

In an annual salary discussion meeting, if you are not keen on increasing salaries, start with:

“Today, we will first equate how our salaries are doing against other companies in the market and decide whether we need a hike.” (Given that your salaries are on par.)

or

“Let’s start with our profits during the last financial year before we discuss an increase in salaries.” (Given that the earnings have not been much.)

If you are in favor of increasing salaries, try the following:

“Let us start by telling you how our employees have benefitted this company over the last year. The accretion rate is high. Keep the people happy and they will bring more performers in.”

These negotiation tricks work like a charm in most corporate environments if you are calm, confident, and a good speaker.

7. Add a new person

Negotiations can get stalled. Let’s say you’ve discussed something with your team and they haven’t been able to come to a conclusion. Change one person in the team and ask them the start from the top. The new person must have decisive powers to change the course of the negotiation and rethink issues.

The stalemate situation will get a fresh start.

8. Plant pseudo-clauses just to accept their refusal

This is one of those negotiation tricks which is often used in several professional deals and personal agreements. Simply introduce a clause which you really do not need but put it up as being very important. You will get shot down for sure, but then you will get an agreement on the important part.

I will need the full draft on my table by afternoon.” Wait for “How can I finish this by this afternoon?” and respond with “Okay, tomorrow morning then, and in that case, have it ready to be sent out by ten o’clock. Okay?”

If I accept this price for the car, you will give me first year’s insurance for free and alloy wheels with rear parking sensor fitted.” Wait for the rejection of the offer and respond with “Alright then, but I won’t leave without the insurance.”

The reception will be for two hundred and starters and beverages must be included in the price you have quoted. No beverages? Okay, two starters then.”

In each of the above statements, you knew that the other party would reject the added demands. You created those demands yourself knowing they would be shot down. Luckily, usually after refusing one thing, the other party is likely to budge on something else easily, thinking that you have already lost something you wanted.

Conclusion – The Killer Negotiator

These are a few of the many negotiation tricks up the sleeves of killer negotiators. However, I will repeat that ultimate mantra of negotiation one last time:

A good negotiator wins a deal, a killer negotiator creates a win-win!

As they say, do not try to grab the whole pie. Rather, make a way to inflate the pie so that both of you can have big and fair shares. Be honestly useful to your client (or your boss, your wife, or son — whatever the case may be) and they will never regret dealing with you! Stay tuned for my ebook on negotiation tricks, which will include comprehensive negotiation strategies.

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