Negotiating: Do You Know the Silent Advantage of Sellers?


In negotiations, we typically think of the buyer as being in a more powerful position than the seller. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be the only supplier that can provide what your buyers need, you may be interested in an insightful technique that can help you leverage winning bids. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our strength grows out of our weaknesses.” Although he never tried selling anything to bio/pharma companies, he was a pretty smart guy, so let’s have a closer look at this idea.

While the buyer usually has the upper hand, possessing this power also can impair his ability to have insight into the seller’s position. This potentially gives the seller the silent advantage of being able to rebalance the scales to gain a more persuasive foothold and win the sale. By recognizing this inherent and useful paradox, the seller can go into the negotiation with the right perspective, and armed with the right information.

There’s a very good blog posting on this subject by Carolyn O’Hara on the HBR Blog Network. She recommends the following preparation for sales negotiation meetings:

1. Buck yourself up: define the unique attributes that you bring to the table.
2. Be prepared: bring the exact information that supports your case, including being prepared to handle price objections.
3. Be a good listener: build trust by genuinely showing interest and asking good questions that demonstrate that you understand the buyer’s concerns and issues.
4. Remain calm and steady: don’t make the mistake of being reactive or allow yourself to be baited. Stay focused on your goals, especially if the buyer’s behavior is distracting.
5. Be nimble: rather than limit yourself to a single strategy, be prepared to respond to unexpected demands by asking questions to get a better understanding.

O’Hara’s blog posting provides two short case-studies worth reading. We hope this helps you plug into some new, helpful strategies for successful negotiating. Click here to read the blog posting.