Recognizing a ‘Tell’
“When dealing with the hard-nosed buyers or sellers, the “bully” negotiator, know that the more they say that they won’t, the more likely they will.”
For much of my career, I have had to deal with very smart business people in giant transactions. Sometimes these transactions have aggressive type A-personality buyers. They are intimidating and pushy, even bully-like. How do you deal with these types of people? I admit that I myself have taken this position to get the best deal for myself. With decades of experience negotiating with these types, I’ve found something that I know will help you.
Finding the Weakness
When dealing with the hard-nosed buyers or sellers, the “bully” negotiator, know that the more they say that they won’t, the more likely they will. In poker people call this a “tell.” If your opponent acts big, he is probably weak, and when he gives a weak hand he is most certainly holding a killer hand. Once I realized that aggressive negotiators were telling me something different than what they were actually saying, I started making sales that I had previously missed.
Once I was on a transaction worth millions with a very sophisticated seller. He made it clear to me they did not want to be re-traded on price after the due diligence period and powerfully said, “We will not tolerate a re-trade!” That was a “tell,” I said to myself. I reassured him that before I ever 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 and told him the bad news that I would be withdrawing from the transaction. “As I promised, I will not ask for a lower price”. He then asked how much of a discount would I need to continue on, and we finished the deal.
Think about how many times you’ve told your children, “don’t ask me again,” and minutes later you were doing exactly what you promised you would not do. How about the gambler who tells himself “this is my last bet,” and then makes yet another wager a moment later? You see, when the buyer takes a bully position in the negotiations and they adamantly and emotionally repeat their position, consider this a “tell” as to a weakness.
Have you ever come across a buyer that just about yells at you during the negotiations, sometimes even before the negotiations start? They say words like “absolutely” and “I cannot” go over a dollar amount. These aggressive type As can be almost overwhelming to the amateur salesperson.
“When a person gives me a strong insistence, I know I have a buyer. “
What to Do
#1. You need to know that the aggressive buyer is ABLE to buy.
See them as a positive. Would you rather have a buyer that is complacent and never buys anything? Of course not. Aggressive negotiators are able to buy and can make decisions.
#2. Avoid becoming argumentative.
Don’t get emotional back—stay logical. Allow their energy to hit you, even to run over you. Don’t take the bait and get aggressive back.
When a person gives me a strong insistence, I know I have a buyer. In truth, I have a buyer that will actually do what he so strongly claims he will not. Bullies are not courageous, they are cowards. A screaming negotiator, acting overly aggressive and all big and stuff, is actually just vulnerable. The more the buyer insists they won’t, the more likely they will. Have fun with this and let me know how it works for you. Get great at winning over the insistent “no” buyer and you will close more deals, make more money, and enjoy your job more.