Common negotiation traps (and how to avoid them)

Written by Huthwaite International

Negotiation is an essential part of our daily lives, whether we are discussing a raise with our boss or trying to reach an agreement with our business partners. However, negotiating is not always easy, and many salespeople fall into common negotiation traps that can lead to unfavourable outcomes. 

In this article, we'll talk you through how to recognise negotiation traps and explain how to work around them, so you can increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome in any sales negotiation.

1. Don’t negotiate too early

Negotiation, by its very nature, means you will need to make some concessions to get what you want. So it’s important to avoid negotiating unless you are well prepared and have a clear plan of what you want to achieve. 

On the other hand, customers often attempt to obtain concessions from sellers during the sales cycle, even before formal negotiations start. This creates a risk that sellers might agree to these demands in an effort to advance the sale. Without costings, sellers risk agreeing to piece-meal concessions made by customers over a period of time, which may not be fully realised until later. 

As a result, sellers give away potential bargaining chips that could be used in later negotiations, which leaves them with less flexibility when the actual negotiations commence. Naturally, customers rarely acknowledge or appreciate any concessions granted to them prior to the formal negotiation process.

Therefore, a common negotiation trap sellers frequently fall victim to is making concessions too early. By standing your ground, you’ll reduce the chance of making concessions early on that are a hindrance to your business or overall strategy.

2. Not planning what needs to be achieved and how to persuade the other party

The key factor separating those who fall into negotiation traps from those who don't can be found in how salespeople prepare themselves. They dedicate time not only to pondering their objectives, but also devising ways to convince the other party to consent to their proposals

This process includes:

  • Trying to get into the other party’s head and seeing the situation through their eyes.
  • Considering what might influence them to accept a proposed position on any given issue.
  • Determining which issues can be traded in return for the things they want, and how far they can afford to concede on any given issue to get those things in return.

A key part of a seller’s decision-making process during a sales negotiation is to calculate the cost of concessions made. This means that they know in advance exactly what it costs to move on any issue. Giving consideration to all the issues that could be traded in this way also helps sellers avoid the negotiation trap of making price the only negotiable issue.


Want more insight into why salespeople should avoid entering negotiations early? Download your free copy of ‘Are Your People Negotiating Or Concession Making?’ now.

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3. Make all concessions conditional

This advice is taught on almost all negotiation skills programmes, and it remains at the very heart of effective trading or bargaining. 

In the heat of negotiations, too many people forget the key phrases “I might be able to move on X if you can help me with Y” and “If you could give me Y, I might be able to move closer to you on X” and all the many variations on this theme. Establishing connections between negotiable items is crucial in order to sidestep the negotiation pitfall of merely offering concessions for the sake of securing the deal.

Ultimately, a negotiation is a simple ‘give’ and ‘take’. It’s your job as a seller to ensure that this will not sacrifice your service in order to guarantee a client. 

Avoiding common negotiation traps

In order to ensure your salespeople don’t fall victim to common negotiation traps, it’s important to understand the difference between negotiating and making concessions. Although making concessions is a part of the negotiation process to reach an agreement, a successful salesperson is often skilled at both negotiating and making concessions in order to find a solution that satisfies both parties. 

Discover the strategies to avoid making concessions during negotiations by understanding how to avoid entering negotiations early and preventing unplanned concessions. Read all this and more by downloading your free copy of ‘Are Your People Negotiation Or Concession Making?’ now.

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