Negotiation Tactics: Behavior Speaks Louder Than Words

Posted on 07/09/2014 in Sales Negotiation Skills

Tactics are behaviors – actions used by the negotiator to serve a purpose or to pursue an objective. Tactics can be verbal and/or nonverbal.  One of the first things that negotiators or anyone skilled in communication learns is that every piece of behavior communicates.  Whether we want to or not our behavior speaks louder than the words we use.  For example, have you ever developed a series of assumptions about a person just by watching him or her enter a room and shake hands, without that person uttering a single word.
Negotiation tactics can work to strengthen the relationship or can be used to intimidate, discourage, anger or upset the other party.  Tactics can be skillfully planned or just happen in the course of a negotiation. Tactics that are intended to intimidate, surprise, or tip the power balance are called "Adversarial Tactics”.  
Successful vs. Average Negotiators
Average negotiators tend to make three common mistakes when they encounter adversarial tactics. First and foremost, average negotiators concede too much, too soon, on price. Second, they lower their expectation level for the overall negotiation. Third, they become intimidated or flustered, and end up making a bad agreement just to escape the situation.
By contrast, successful negotiators are flexible and creative when they respond to adversarial tactics.  
In general, successful negotiators respond to adversarial tactics as follows: 
•Remain calm 
•Suggest a break (or caucus), if needed
•Ask more questions to explore for alternative options
•Make a concession only if the other side reciprocates
•Hold firm on price but offer an elegant currency instead
•Warn, but not threaten the other person about the consequences of the adversarial tactic
•Get their needs met elsewhere
For more information on negotiation tactics, read STAR's 25 Most Difficult Negotiation Tactics article. If you are a sales manager and need help coaching your team on negotiation skills check out our Giving and Getting Concessions when Negotiating Sales Meeting Kit