Stephen Newman’s Blog

Talk Your Way through a Sales Stalemate

You know that moment when a ‘must win’ sales negotiation starts to feel uncomfortable. Your customer is proposing damaging terms and you’re forced into a position where you’ll have to make a choice you don’t want to make.

What’s your reaction? Do you walk away and waste all the hard work you put into this deal? Or do you accept your customer’s terms and lose in the process? You know you can’t negotiate with someone if they take a position and won’t budge. So what’s the answer? In my experience, you need to explore your customer’s interests and avoid haggling.

Negotiations are easier when people trust each other. However, these ideal situations don’t come along often. Throughout your selling career, you’re more likely to encounter prospects that won’t budge in their position, because they’re fixed on a single option “It’s my way or no way.” So if your customer doesn’t like your proposal, start discussing some alternatives. Let the decision making process become more collaborative. When customers feel rushed into a deal they can become obstinate. The sales process has to be a natural progression and an equal discussion.

“It costs £X.” “I’ll only pay £Y”

If you feel you’re heading towards what looks like an irrevocable breakdown of your relationship, take a deep breath, park the subject of price on the side and just talk. Your customer may be afraid to go back to his boss and ask for more budget because the company is behind on sales targets. This fear will hinder his ability to negotiate, so your job is to make it easy for him. Use tools to help things along. I’ve found a blank flip chart is invaluable. Make a list of all the issues you need to agree including price. If there are say, 9 other issues you can agree on except price, you know you’re 90% there. What’s more, will the customer really walk away from a negotiation where 90% is already agreed and start again? What will that cost them in terms of time and perhaps lost business?

At what point do you walk away?

Despite your best efforts, not every deal will be Win-Win. The best sales professionals know in advance the moment to walk away. Look out for early signals that it may not be a good fit for either of you and define a point at which you’ll stop investing in this sales opportunity in order to focus on one with more potential.

Be creative

You cannot negotiate from a position. Fact. Of course it’s tough out there and no one wants to spend. So be creative. Start talking and make your option the most favourable opportunity. Top salespeople know you gain credibility by listening really well. Ask precise questions and address your clients’ concerns throughout the meeting. Let them know you want them to win in this deal as much as you do. Explore how both of you can win and address every concern.

For more information about how to negotiate your way through a stalemate, talk to Stephen Newman, on: Telephone: +44 (0)1923 818 967 email: or visit: