What Do You Do When Customers Haggle Over Price

When your customer is holding out for a discount, it is possible to close the sale without leaving money on the table.
We've all been there; you've invested months into a sale and now here we are at the
end of the year and you just want to close the deal-but your customer won't budge, not even a little bit. And you feel stuck with reducing the price to meet their terms just to get them to sign on the dotted line.

Not only does this hurt you in the short run by the obvious discount, but all too often it backfires in the long run. Why? Because you're no longer perceived as a true partner once you allow the negotiation to be win-lose and you attempt to win your customer over with gimmicks or extras. When you start "giving in," clients can
become more difficult simply to hold out for a deeper discount. A further danger is that once word gets out, it creates peer envy. When customers learn that the "best" customers are getting discounts, they become unhappy about their deals regardless of deal size, actual discount, and other interests.

So, what if your customer is holding out for a discount? How do you achieve a win-win without leaving money on the table?


  • First, you need to view negotiation as an activity you use not just throughout the sales cycle, but beyond it as well.

  • Second, you have to develop a solution that will satisfy your customer's business goals as well as-often hidden-personal interests in the deal.


By introducing your negotiating strategy early on in the sales cycle, you plant the seed for the relationship to begin on a win-win basis, and you better understand the motivations and the business issues involved in your deal, and other working parts within your customer's organization that could be influencing your deal. If your customer is a stickler for price, you first need to find out why. In our current economic climate, oftentimes cash flow can be an important issue that is sometimes translated into "I need a lower price." What your customer may really need is adjusted terms.

Perhaps your customer is haggling over price because they have been a long-time customer and feel they deserve to be getting a world-class deal. One of our clients experienced this quandary. After exploring in detail into the reasons behind the customer's request, he found that what the customer really wanted was some expression of appreciation, to feel part of the "elite." Our client developed a
"frequent flyer" type program that generated special rewards without reducing price. The perceived importance not only won our client the deal, but in the end he provided even more value to the customer because he delivered what the customer really wanted.

When we begin to see that our negotiations must be aligned with a repeat-business and long-term strategy, we find ourselves negotiating for a better business relationship, for improved communication with our clients, for those much-needed appointments, for broad access to others in the client organization, and for that strategic element in any business activity: information and intelligence.


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Miller Heiman has been a thought leader and innovator in the sales arena for almost thirty years, helping clients worldwide win high-value complex deals, protect and grow key accounts, manage talent and optimize sales strategies and operations.

With a prestigious client list that includes Fortune 500 clients, Miller Heiman helps companies in major industries to build high performance sales teams that deliver consistent sustainable results.
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