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How to flip the script and win contract negotiations

August 1, 2023 -  By

Salespeople frequently find themselves negotiating stressful situations when trying to win a contract. What makes negotiations so tense is that it is unknown how the other side will respond to a request, counteroffer or specific response.

(Photo: Credit: The best photo for all / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

(Photo: Credit: The best photo for all / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

For many salespeople, it can feel like playing a game of high-stakes poker in which losing remains a very real possibility. But there is a way to learn exactly what will happen next with a simple game of “let’s pretend.”

Next time a prospect requests a concession, like a 10 percent discount, use a script along the lines of:

I’m going to have to get back to you on if we can do that because it’s a big ask and I’ll need to get approval from my boss. I’m not sure how she’ll respond, but let’s pretend she says the best we can do is a 5 percent discount. What would you say if that was the case?

Here the prospect could respond in a variety of ways. Some responses may be:

  • Unfortunately, that would mean we would have to go with a different firm due to the price.
  • I’m not sure — the team here would have to really sit down and figure out our next steps.
  • I’d have to rework some of my budget, but we could most likely make it work.

Whatever they say, you’ll have significantly more insight into the repercussions of your response. In fact, this conversation can continue with more questions and hypothetical negotiations, revealing many potential outcomes without any real-world risk.

You can use “let’s pretend” to negotiate any terms and allow your sales teams to make informed business decisions. Like any strategy, it requires crafting a personalized script, practicing delivery and acting the part.

If you need help improving your sales skills, I’m always available at

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