Negotiation Nibbling

It goes by many names, but being nibbled on as a sales person sucks. Being so close to the end of a deal and then having to give something additional up, just before signature, is brutal. So how do you recognize it and how do you avoid being nibbled on?

You’ve worked your ass off to get this deal and close it. And it’s a big one too. The deal is so close to being done that you can almost smell the ink of the pen that has to sign it. It’s taken a long time to get to this point and you’re emotionally worn out. You’ve put everything into this deal and now it finally look like they’re going to sign. THANK GOD.

Today is the day you get the PO, you’re excited and you’ve been waiting for it. Then just before you are supposed to get the PO, you get a phone call.

It’s the buyer.

“Listen, Jim. Just before we get this all signed off and get the PO sent to you, I’m going to need the following at no additional cost: [insert small item that costs money/change payment terms/change small term in contract/get additional warranty term/shorter delivery period/etc].”

You think, “How can this be!!! We negotiated everything, how is this coming up now? But what if I say “no”!?! I don’t want to lose this deal. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.”

​And because you’re afraid of losing the deal, you cave and give the buyer whatever they want.

A few things have happened here. The buyer, who knows that you’re emotionally invested in this deal has likely drawn the deal out, intentionally, to drain you emotionally. You’re worn out and they know it. Likely, over the course of negotiation, the buyer has also been conditioning you to think that you’re super lucky to get this business and has been telling you what a privilege it is to even get an order from them. They’ve also told you that other companies are just begging to get the opportunity to quote, but they chose you because they see ‘potential’.

The truth is, you’ve been played. The buyer has conditioned you to believe that you’re lucky to get the business and has placed you on a position of weakness to nibble on the back-end of the negotiation and get a few more small concessions before signature. They’re squeezing the last bit of juice out of the orange. And that fear you feel about losing the deal? You feel that because they’ve conditioned you to feel that way. The likelihood of you losing that deal by saying “no” to that nibble is SUPER low.

This sounds brutal, but it happens all the time. And, as a salesperson, you need to be aware of this very common procurement negotiation tactic.

So what do you do when this happens to you? Because it will.

Your wording should look like this:

“Melanie, thanks so much for the phone call, and unfortunately we can’t provide this additional item(s). For us to be able to provide these things means that we would need to charge you more and we really don’t want to do that. And I don’t think you want to be charged more, correct? Can we please move forward with the deal that you and I have both put a significant amount of effort into negotiating?”

9 times out of 10 they’ll drop it and you’ll get your deal signed without any more fuss.

Nibbling is super common. Be aware of it and learn to say “no”.