Negotiation is all about persuasion through words. Words are your weapons.
Like any weapon, effectiveness of negotiation words can vary. In this edition of PurchTips, we’ll explore three simple “bad words” that can render your negotiation efforts ineffective. No need to worry, these aren’t the profane type of “bad words!”
Bad Word #1: “Or” – Imagine saying these words to your supplier: “Can you reduce your price or are your margins too thin to go any lower?” By including the word “or” and the phrase that follows, you’ve made it easy for your supplier to resist your attempt at negotiating a better deal for your organization. They simply have to repeat a tweaked version of what you’ve said after the word “or.” This isn’t the only example of how using the word “or” could sabotage your negotiation efforts. Don’t give suppliers an excuse for not being able to improve their offers. If they are going to offer excuses, it is their job to come up with them!
Bad Word #2: “Can” – “Can you lower your price?” “Can you improve your terms?” “Can you sharpen your pencil?” Using the word “can” implies that the supplier knows everything important, such as its cost structure, and you know nothing. It gives the supplier all the power to simply say “no.” Because you’ve implied that the supplier knows more than you, you have created the belief in the supplier that you have no ammunition to challenge the supplier’s response. Using the word “can” makes you appear subservient. And you never want to appear subservient to your supplier in a negotiation.
Bad Word #3: “Best” – “Your price is too high, please quote your best price.” Do you know what’s wrong with using the word “best” in this sentence? When it comes to discussing price, the word “lowest” is better than the word “best.” Think about it. The “best” price in the mind of the supplier will not likely be the “best” price in your mind, right? If a supplier says “We gave you our best price” that may be true because the best price for them is the highest price. If the supplier’s response is convincing, you may think that they’ve given you their lowest price. The best price for you is the lowest price. So ask for the lowest price, not the best price.