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Three Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes

Three Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes

Notes on Negotiation Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

I have coached and trained over 50,000 sales professionals in negotiation since I started in this business 25 years ago. Many have achieved great success, including some with seven-figure incomes.

The most effective have excellent negotiation skills (since sales and negotiation are inextricably interlinked skillsets).

But none are perfect. Here are three common sales negotiation mistakes.

This applies to those with sales titles plus everyone who seeks new or renewal business from customers or clients, including business owners, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, and the list goes on.

1. Not enough asking and listening

Some sales folks try too hard to “sell” their product or service and believe success derives from convincing arguments and topnotch persuasion skills. If they can only get you to believe their _______ is the best, they can close the deal, right?


This is the exact opposite approach to most effectively achieve sales negotiation success. As I say in my programs, “negotiation power goes to those who ask and listen, not those who argue and persuade.”

Ask questions. Actively and deeply listen. Drill down and find out your potential customer’s true wants, needs, core interests and underlying desires. Explore their problems and why they are even talking with you.

Then illustrate to them – not convince them – why your solution best fits their needs.

Effective negotiators ask at least two times more questions than others. That’s an incredible statistic!

2. Overreliance on the relationship

Effective sales negotiators will always get the benefit of the doubt and then some when they have developed strong and powerful personal and professional relationships with their customers.

Most sales professionals know this well and spend a lot of time and effort building rapport and establishing these crucial relationships.

But it’s not everything. Your product or service must still satisfy your customers’ needs and interests. And it must do so at least as good as your customers’ best alternatives (or Plan Bs).

So, build the relationships. But don’t think it will trump everything else. You still need to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ fundamental needs and keep improving relative to your competition.

Years ago, I raised a bunch of money when starting my software company. I distinctly remember discussing this investment opportunity with a long-time friend and former legal client. We had and have a great relationship. But he still decided not to invest.

Why? Because he had an alternative opportunity with lower risk and a potentially similar rate of return. I didn’t blame him for turning me down (although I was disappointed). My opportunity didn’t fit his investment objectives and needs.

3. Ego

Egos mess up a lot of deals. And many sales professionals love to win. Focusing on “winning” to the exclusion of strategy and achieving your goals suggests your ego has become too involved.

There is often a difference between winning and satisfying your interests. You may get the deal signed and “win.” But if the price, terms or conditions mean it’s a long-term problem – you didn’t achieve success.

Don’t let your ego overpower your strategy.

Latz’s Lesson: Sales professionals should ask more questions, not overly rely on their relationships, and put their ego in their back pockets.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts' proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN • Premier Indiana CLE


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