As a businessperson, one of the most common occurrences you will ever face in your day-to-day activities is negotiations. Dealing with negotiation should be as easy as saying ‘yes’ or no depending on how good the deal is, right? In a perfect world, sure, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Being in the business, you should have your own back first, but at the same time, the customer shouldn’t feel ripped off. This shouldn’t be much of a problem since a good negotiator won’t want to eat into your profits, rather reach what, to them, seems like a fair bargain. However, you will often run into customers who intend nothing less than malice.
Customers who only have their best interests at heart will use different kinds of psychological attacks on you in order to get what they want. This may sound silly because there’s no way such an approach could be effective. You’ve been in the business too long, you know all the ins and outs, the crooks and crannies that crooks use to steal your money.
That’s what most people like to think, but at the end of the day, they become unsuspecting victims of sophisticated attacks on the psyche. At the same time, even if you do recognize such attacks, a customer is a customer as long as they’re willing to pay enough. You don’t just want them to walk away. You can now see the dilemma this puts you in.
To be fair, that may be too much credit on the would-be negotiator’s part and too little on the average American’s – a bit of an overstatement. Anecdotally, the commonplace of such dirty tactics is growing and the trend likely won’t slow down anytime soon. The sooner you learn to recognize them and root them out, the less the chances you’re going to fall prey to them.
The left at the altar tactic
A negotiation is essentially a confrontation of emotions. In such a situation, the brain’s fight or flight mechanism is usually triggered. People who aren’t used to negotiation will often feel a sense of discomfort when attempting to negotiate the price of a commodity. This is the brain’s defense mechanism against getting harmed which may lead to a feeling of psychological trauma.
Negotiators will often take advantage of this mechanism, especially when they realize the person they are negotiating with is an amateur. The ‘left at the altar’ technique is when the person negotiating threatens to leave or makes movements that suggest they’ve lost interest in the negotiation. This is in order to prompt you, a seller desperate to move his wares, to concede and accept a price much lower than you intended.
Take the example of a car salesman attempting to move cars. He’ll set up his price, and the buyer, being a shrewd negotiator realizes he can pitch a price a little lower than what he’s offered. However, he tries to lowball the salesman, who, knowing the car’s value to be more than that, throws a counter-offer. At this point, the negotiator says something along the lines of, “yeah, no thanks. I’m not that interested in getting a car right now anyway.” This is with the hope that the salesman, desperate to sell the car and get his precious commission, will be willing to pitch even lower.
The countermeasure for such an approach is simple: don’t fall for the bait. If he threatens to drop the deal, thank him for the service and let it go through a quiet period. If you feel the buyer might still be interested, resurrect the discussions after about thirty days or when they call back. This time around, the ball is in your court.