Negotiating With A "Jerk": Sell AND Stay Professional

BY Jessica Helinski
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Negotiating probably isn’t anyone’s favorite part of the sales process. It can be particularly unpleasant if you are trying to negotiate with someone who is being difficult. “Most of us are familiar with a proven sales negotiation strategy that aims for a win-​win when the two sides are reasonable parties and have established a common goal,” writes Tris Brown for LSA Global. But, negotiations likely won’t always include a reasonable customer or prospect, especially when selling big-​ticket items like cars. Sometimes, you may be stuck dealing with a downright bully. 

A different negotiating approach

Brown has some great advice for negotiating with, in his words, “a jerk.” Here’s his approach:

Maintain composure.

First, do not let the customer know that their intimidation is getting to you. Show them that their kind of behavior will not sway you. Nor should you get aggressive yourself and stoop to their level. Why? “Because you lose your objectivity and, therefore, your opportunity to truly understand what they want in the end,” Brown explains. This ends up dismantling the entire negotiating process, as fighting fire with fire will only cause the entire sale to fizzle out. 

Focus on learning. 

In order to sell, you must get past all the hyperbole to find out what the customer really wants and needs. Negotiating won’t be able to continue effectively unless you can learn what you should be offering. Do your best to uncover this, and, Brown suggests, keep it in context. Maybe the customer is behaving poorly because they’re desperate, anxious or unsure. Maybe they have no idea what to do and are acting out of frustration. As he writes, “Invest the time to know where they stand and why.” 

Check out Brown’s entire article to read his other four negotiating tips. They will help keep you in the right frame of mind when negotiating with a less-​than-​reasonable customer. It’s important to keep in mind, too, that if the behavior is too difficult, it might be a good idea to walk away. But, if you decide to continue negotiations, Brown’s approach can help you navigate the situation to a sale.