Why Do People Act in an Adversarial Manner when Negotiating?

Posted on 07/28/2014 in Sales Negotiation Skills

When negotiating, salespeople often encounter what we call adversarial tactics.  The term adversarial is defined as hostile, involving or characterized by conflict or opposition.  So, why do people act in an adversarial manner when negotiating?  Usually during a negotiation one side may choose to act adversarially to fluster the other side in hopes they will make a mistake and eventually to feel pressured into making a concession. 
 
So, what specific tactics are used to try to make the other side make a concession?  Salespeople should be prepared for these tactics, and specifically know how they might respond to the following tactics. 
 
Budget tactic "This is all I’ve got…” indicates the other side is trying to convince you that they have a dollar limit or some other restriction placed on them by their organization. 
 
Killer Phrase "You’ve got to do better than that” might work well against average negotiators who tend to make an immediate and unilateral concession. 
 
Split the Difference It is hard to say no because this appears to be so reasonable, but it is often a one-sided outrageous initial demand.  
 
Cherry Picking This refers to when a customer gets multiple bids, and then tries to get the best or lowest offer on each item by playing one supplier off the others. 
 
Take It or Leave It "This is our last and final offer…” indicates the other side is trying to convince you that they have reached their limit.  
 
For more information on negotiation tactics, read STAR’s 25 Most Difficult Negotiation Tactics article. Managers interested in running an effective sales skills clinic on negotiation currencies and concessions should visit our Negotiation Currencies Sales Meeting Kit page. 

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