You’ve qualified your prospect and presented your proposal. Now all he must do is sign on the dotted line and you’ve successfully closed the deal, right? Not so fast!

Instead of signing, your prospect gently pushes the proposal forward and says: “I’d like to talk about some of the details of this agreement before I sign.”

Be careful not to panic or let your fear of losing the deal take over. Instead, make the subtle shift from sales advisor to negotiator. If you don’t make this shift, you run the risk of making unnecessary concessions, conceding on price or derailing the sale altogether.

Here are four key negotiation skills every salesperson must develop:


Negotiation is a specific process for guiding a discussion of relative wants and needs toward a mutually rewarding agreement. The goal of negotiation is not winner take all, but everybody wins. In other words, unless agreements are satisfying to both parties, someone will come away a loser – which threatens the relationship between the parties. There are specific negotiation skills that help you get what you want while satisfying your client’s needs as well.

Actively Listen

Listen with the intent of understanding your prospect. This sounds simple, however when you are in the midst of an intense conversation it can be difficult. Many communication problems that arise in negotiations can be attributed to poor listening skills.

There are times when you feel as though your prospect may be off base. When this happens, resist the urge to interrupt, let them finish and be interested what they have to say. Repeating what you think you heard him say. This will help you gain valuable information that can serve as the basis for getting them what they need to feel satisfied.

Set Goals

When establishing your negotiation strategy, remember that both sides must feel comfortable with the final solution. Consider a three-tiered goal approach in order to pre-determine your win/win or walk-away outcomes.

I deal
R ealistic
A cceptable

Prepare your I.R.A. in advance of the proposal presentation. This will put you in a proactive position for being in control of the negotiation. Having an I.R.A. will help you understand the point at which you must walk away. Conversely, your I.R.A will keep you from walking away too soon. Have the courage to reset and redirect. Stand your ground. Be confident and diligent in showing your prospect that the value of your solution is worth every penny of their investment.

Salespeople shouldn’t be willing to accept any curve ball a prospect throws at them. If demands become unreasonable, unprofitable or go against your core values, don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal. Remember, no deal is better than a bad deal.

Lead with Emotional Intelligence

Although you and your prospect may sit on opposite sides of the table during a negotiation, your goal is to be the leader of the negotiation. It’s important to lead with emotional intelligence. Unexpected pressure can create stress. Guard against this by using the S.T.A.R. technique:

S top and take a deep breath.
T hink about what you want to have happen next.
A ssess yourself and the situation.
R espond intelligently and don’t react emotionally.

All too often, when invited to negotiate, salespeople avoid making the shift from sales advisor to negotiator. Instead, they do all they can to survive derailment by making unnecessary concessions. It’s important to recognize that negotiation is often overlooked as a vital part of any sales process. These skills will not only help you make the necessary shift to negotiator, they will win you more negotiations and give you the confidence to recognize that no deal is better than a bad deal.


Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.