The Negotiating Customer

 

Debra from Tennessee wrote:

“We have this one client who wants to negotiate everything. Every single time, he tries to get a better price, better payment terms – something. We don’t negotiate these things, and I tell him that, but every month he tries again. He drives us all nuts. What do we do?”

Negotiators are customers who are convinced that there is always a better deal to be had. It doesn’t seem to matter how good your price is, or how great the value is, they will always ask for a little more. They will negotiate for better prices for your merchandise, better hospital rooms, better delivery terms – you name it, they’ll negotiate. Their motto is: “It never hurts to ask.”

There are a good number of people who don’t enjoy these types of discussions. They find the whole process stressful, confrontational – even demeaning. Some people can become quite offended when someone tries to negotiate, believing that their integrity is in question. And, to be fair to them, in a sense, it is. After all, if you say to someone, “these are my terms,” and
then change your stance later, the first statement becomes a falsehood. By the same
token, challenging someone on their terms can suggest that you don’t believe those are their terms at all.

When dealing with Negotiators, however, it’s best not to delve this deeply into the philosophical aspects of negotiations. The Negotiators certainly aren’t. All they want is to make sure that they’re getting the best deal they can. For some, it’s their job. Some see it as a game. For some, it’s so instinctive, they barely realize they’re doing it. Whichever the case, here are some tips for dealing with negotiators:

  1. Remain pleasant. Smile. Very rarely are they trying to insult you

  2. If you can’t change anything, just say, “I wish I could, but I can’t

    change it.” Repeat as often as necessary. Don’t forget the smile

  3. After #2, reiterate what you can do for them. It’s important that

    they perceive themselves as at least getting something

  4. Avoid saying things like, “I have to treat you like I treat everyone

    else.” – even when it’s true. It will only make things worse.

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