Almost my entire career, I have had to deal with very shrewd business people in monster-size transactions. I often meet aggressive type A-personality buyers. They are intimidating and pushy, almost bully-like. I have even assumed this position to get the best deal for myself.
After 35 years of negotiating with these types, I discovered something that I know will help you. When dealing with the hard-nosed buyers or sellers, understand that the more they insist that they won’t, the more likely they will.
In poker this is called a "tell." If your opponent acts strong he is almost certainly weak, and when he presents a weak hand he is most certainly holding an unbeatable hand. When I realized that the aggressive negotiator was telling me something different than what he was actually saying I started making sales that had previously escaped me.
I was most recently on a multi-million dollar transaction with a very sophisticated seller. The buyer made it clear to me they did not want to be re-traded on price after the due diligence period and forcefully said, “We will not tolerate a retrade!” That was a "tell," I thought to myself. I reassured him that before I asked for a lower price I would just bow out of the transaction.
Four weeks later after my due diligence of the company, I called with the bad news that I would be withdrawing from the transaction, because as I promised, I would not ask for a lower price. The buyer then asked how much of a discount would I need to continue, and we made a deal.
Consider the last time you told your kids, “don’t ask me again,” and moments later you were doing exactly what you swore you would not do. How about the gambler who says “this is my last bet,” and then makes another wager right after.
When the buyer takes a strong position in the negotiations and they adamantly and emotionally repeat their position, consider this a "tell" as to some weakness.
I am sure you have come across that buyer that almost yells at you during the negotiations, sometimes even before the negotiations start. They say, “I’m absolutely not buying today,” “we can not go over this amount” or any other number of positions. These aggressive “grinder-type” negotiators are almost overwhelming to the underprepared sales person.
First, understand the aggressive buyer is almost always able to buy. I would much rather have this buyer than the one that is complacent and never buys anything. Second, you must avoid getting overwhelmed or becoming argumentative. Just let the energy hit you and go over you -- do not take the bait.
Today, when I get a very strong insistence to not do something, I know I have a buyer. In fact, I have a buyer that will actually do what they so strongly claim they will not. Much like how bullies are not courageous, the screaming negotiator, acting overly aggressive, may actually be showing you where they are most vulnerable.
Tuck this away as one of your new negotiating strategies: “The more the buyer insists they won’t, the more likely they will.” Have fun with this one and let me know how it works for you.
This sales secret is incredibly important to grasp and master. If you get really good at winning over the insistent “no” buyer, you will close more deals and make more money!