27 Mistakes Salespeople Make During Negotiations (and How to Avoid Them)

27 Mistakes Salespeople Make During Negotiations

In the sales realm, the art of negotiation is a crucial skill, as salespeople frequently engage with prospects and clients. The problem is, in today’s marketplace, buyers – whether individuals or corporate entities – are more aggressive when it comes to negotiating terms of purchase.

Many sales professionals fall short in their negotiation prowess when dealing with shrewd purchasers.

If you’re on the buyer side of the negotiation, you’ll want to be aware of this list to know whether you’re dealing with a gun salesperson … or not.  If it’s a gun you’re dealing with then you’ll want to be on your best game. 

But if you’re dealing with a salesperson making many of these mistakes then you might be tempted to take advantage.  Perhaps so, but also, you’ll want to make sure that the salesperson doesn’t negotiate into an unsustainable deal that could come back to bite you.  Identifying these mistakes will help you get a heads up on potential pitfalls of their pitch.

Below, we list twenty-seven critical errors that salespeople often commit during negotiations.

Poor Preparation

1. Failing to pose a sufficient number of high-value questions. Only a handful of salespeople take the time to pose insightful questions during the sales process, impeding their ability to strategically position their offerings.

Procurement’s counter-play Prioritise preparing a comprehensive set of probing questions that delve into supplier capabilities, offerings, and potential value additions. 

2. Overlooking the importance of collecting the right information. While questions are pivotal, the significance of formulating the right questions cannot be downplayed, as it facilitates more effective negotiation.

Procurement’s counter-play:Conduct thorough research on suppliers, market trends, and your organization’s specific requirements. Tailor your questions to uncover crucial details that inform your negotiation strategy.

3. Disregarding strategic planning. The absence of a well-thought-out strategy equates to preparing for failure. Dedicate time to devising an approach, determining tactics, outlining feasible concessions and identifying the information needed for optimal negotiation outcomes.

Procurement’s counter-play: Devote time to crafting a robust negotiation strategy. Define tactics, anticipate concessions, and gather information necessary for informed decision-making.

4. Neglecting practice. Skilful negotiators exploit every opportunity to refine their craft, becoming more adept and self-assured over time.

Procurement’s counter-play: schedule regular practice, simulate real scenarios, seek feedback, document experiences, continue learning, join negotiation groups, and enlist an accountability partner for consistent skill refinement.

5. Hinging negotiations on assumptions. The maxim “Assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME” holds true.

Procurement’s counter-play: prioritize clear communication, verify facts, and ask clarifying questions to ensure a solid foundation for productive discussions.

Overlooking Value vs Price      

6. Neglecting to establish the value of their products, services, or solutions. Value is subjective, contingent upon each buyer’s perspective.

Procurement’s counter-play: discerning what holds importance to individual clients and adapting your offerings accordingly is paramount.

7. Succumbing to the misconception that competitors always offer lower prices. The truth is, someone, somewhere may always sell a comparable product for less. Nonetheless, unless your pricing is irrefutably the steepest in the market, not all rivals are guaranteed to undercut you.

Procurement’s counter-play: Regularly assess your pricing strategy and market positioning to ensure competitiveness while focusing on the unique value your product or service provides, rather than solely competing on price.

8. Excessive verbosity & insufficient attentive listening. Instead of merely awaiting a turn to talk, attentive listening is crucial, demanding effort, energy and patience.

Procurement’s counter-play: practice mindfulness, eliminate distractions, maintain eye contact, use non-verbal cues, avoid interruptions, ask open-ended questions, paraphrase, empathize, be patient, and reflect for continual improvement.

9. Failing to exploit silence as a negotiating tool. Silence is golden – if you know how to use it.

Procurement’s counter-play: Rather than immediately responding, employing deliberate pauses can prompt concessions that augment deal value.

Lacking self-awareness

10. Allowing ego to hinder progress. Negotiation is an integral facet of business, yet instances abound where favourable deals were forsaken due to ego-driven irrationality clouding judgment.

Procurement’s counter-play: prioritize rationality over pride, focus on the objective, and remain open to mutually beneficial solutions, avoiding ego-driven decision-making.

11. Failing to uphold objectivity throughout sales and negotiation processes.

Procurement’s counter-play: consistently assess facts, set clear goals, separate emotions from decisions and utilise data-driven analysis for a more rational and effective approach.

12. Low confidence. This often stems from an absence of negotiation skills, highlighting the need for frequent practice. Also, confidence might waver when negotiating with perceived higher-authority figures.

Procurement’s counter-play: practice negotiation skills regularly, seek mentorship or training, and remember that confidence can fluctuate, especially when negotiating with perceived higher-authority figures.

13. Overlooking subtleties and underlying messages. Not everything is conveyed verbally; very important and useful information is often conveyed more subtly.

Procurement’s counter-play: Observing behavioural cues and body language provides insight. For instance, requesting a discount while avoiding eye contact may signify discomfort.

Poor Negotiation Tactics

14. Failing to define a threshold for walking away. A lack of clarity regarding when to abandon a deal could culminate in monetary losses.

Procurement’s counter-play: establish a clear threshold for walking away from a deal, factoring in your objectives, costs, and acceptable terms, ensuring you don’t compromise beyond your limits.

15. Disclosing any impending deadlines. A tight timeframe places you at a disadvantage, which adept counterparts could exploit to garner a more favourable deal.

Procurement’s counter-play: Avoid disclosing impending deadlines during negotiations to prevent giving your counterparts an advantage; instead, maintain a poker face regarding time constraints to negotiate from a position of strength.

16. Being unable to terminate negotiations. Many salespeople find themselves accepting offers, only to realise later that the agreement proved financially detrimental.

Procurement’s counter-play: When a deal lacks sound business rationale, readiness to exit is imperative, regardless of the invested effort.

17. Omitting moments of contemplation. Weighty decisions made impulsively or under duress often result in unfavourable outcomes. Deliberation affords the potential to save funds and bolster profits.

Procurement’s counter-play: Avoid making impulsive or pressured decisions; instead, take moments for contemplation in crucial situations to ensure more favourable and informed outcomes.

18. Reliance on a singular approach. When it comes to negotiations, you can’t be a one-trick pony. These are dynamic and complex situations. Just because an approach worked in the past, that doesn’t mean it will work today.

Procurement’s counter-play: Astute negotiators employ diverse tactics, such as the Flinch, Trade-off Principle, and Nibble, adapting each to the situation.

Disregarding Authority & Relationships

19. Ignoring alternative viewpoints. No one is completely objective, and you can’t see what you can’t see. Always acknowledge there are alternative views, even if you don’t know what they might be.

Procurement’s counter-play: Prior to finalising a negotiation, it’s advantageous to consult a business partner or colleague for an objective perspective, often yielding fresh insights and strategies. Utilise this time to confer with a neutral party.

20. Negotiating with inappropriate individuals. Engaging with someone lacking the authority to reach conclusive purchasing decisions is futile.

Procurement’s counter-play: Ensure you’re negotiating with individuals who possess the authority to make definitive purchasing decisions.

21. Inadequate utilisation of written testimonials and endorsements.

Procurement’s counter-play: Should testimonials exist, categorising them appropriately enables their strategic deployment.

Overlooking Reciprocation

22. Yielding prematurely. When effort is invested, recipients tend to appreciate outcomes more. Succumbing to hasty concessions might convey product flaws or desperation for sales.

Procurement’s counter-play: Avoid yielding prematurely in negotiations, as it can signal product weaknesses or desperation. Instead, stand firm on reasonable terms, demonstrating confidence in your offering and commitment to fair deals.

23. Assuming the buyer holds all power. While buyers wield substantial leverage, understanding your capacity to walk away in response to unreasonable demands is vital.

Procurement’s counter-play: acknowledge their leverage but maintain your awareness of alternatives and negotiation boundaries, ensuring a more balanced and strategic approach.

24. Fearing loss of sale opportunities. Remember, alternative prospects always exist. Fear is heightened when one’s sales pipeline is thin, mitigated by continuous prospect acquisition.

Procurement’s counter-play: Combat the fear of losing sales opportunities by recognizing that alternatives always exist. To mitigate this fear, consistently work on expanding your prospect pool, ensuring a healthier sales pipeline.

25. Speedy surrendering of concessions. Don’t be too hasty. Even if you’re fine with the concession, you don’t want to appear desperate.

Procurement’s counter-play: Delays before agreeing to a concession increases its value, implicitly suggesting that further requests for concessions will prolong negotiations.

26. Dispensing numerous concessions without securing reciprocation. One-sided concessions render your position weaker..

Procurement’s counter-play: Strive for balanced concessions that ensure both parties benefit. Seeking a quid pro quo is entirely reasonable

27. Rushing negotiations. Rushing negotiations can lead to misunderstandings, overlooked details and poor decisions, compromising the quality of agreements and potentially harming long-term relationships and outcomes.

Procurement’s counter-play: Masterful negotiators exemplify patience, navigating delays with composure and sidestepping anxiety when proceedings unfold slower than anticipated.

That’s it. The above encapsulates thirty-two missteps and oversights that salespeople frequently commit during negotiation. Did you notice anything you might be guilty of?

Learn how to avoid these fatal negotiation mistakes

Awareness of these pitfalls empowers one to elevate performance, boost sales and enhance profitability both at the top and bottom lines. At Academy of Procurement, we know the art of negotiation well, and we’ve been providing masterclasses and online tutorials to professionals from a range of industries. Have a look at what we offer and learn how to avoid the above fatal negotiating mistakes.