Negotiation is a critical skill in any good professional’s arsenal, but only if you know how to do it well. One misstep, one wrong sentence, and all your hard work may as well have been thrown out the window on Day One because an entire conversation could turn on a dime. Using the right language, phrasing, and attitude can make all the difference to a prospective client or buyer, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 phrases that you should definitely avoid if you want to seal that deal, and ones to use instead.
“I’ll Be Honest.”
Does that mean that you haven’t been up until this point? That’s what will come across to clients, along with similar phrases like “I’ll be straight with you,” or “I’ll be blunt,” that imply that you’re passing along confidential or valuable information. Though it’s a good intention, it also implies that you’ve been falsifying other facts.
Don’t stretch out the statement, just go right in with the information, clients will appreciate your honesty and straight-forwardness without feeling like you haven’t been before.
Before: “I’ll be honest, this project probably won’t be completed this month.”
Now: “This project probably won’t be completed this month.”
“You Won’t Find a Better Product Out There.”
This claim may seem confident, but in reality it often comes across as unbelievable. Even if you are truly offering the best service on the market, use other phrases to elaborate and illustrate why, rather than throwing out brash statements that could potentially hurt your credibility. Avoid similar phrases like “by far the best,” or “the most superior on the market”.
Play to your product or service’s strengths (as well as your own) by speaking to its unique features and offerings.
Before: “Our service beats all of the competition.”
Now: “We offer customized customer service and reliable communication.”
“I’ll Give You ____, But Only if You Sign Before ____.”
Don’t force buyers and clients onto your timeline, this kind of phrasing insists that the time-sensitivity of the project will overcome any objections, questions, or concerns they may have, with the intention of the buyer or client caving and following your ultimatum.
Focus your attention on what their roadblock is, that way you can address the issues on hand rather than forcing both parties into a potentially stressful and unfulfilling deal, and it will take the unnecessary burden off of the buyer.
Before: “I’ll give you guaranteed results, but only if you sign before the weekend.”
Now: “What’s stopping you from signing before this weekend?”
These words might be honest and persuasive on your end, but on the receiving end it can come across as manipulative or two-faced. Trust isn’t something that can just be given if you ask really nicely (pretty please with a cherry on top), it’s something you have to earn.
Speak to your strengths with confidence, reassuring them of the facts and promises. If you can back up what you’re saying, then there’s no need for “trust me”.
Before: “Trust me, it’ll get done.”
Now: “I’m confident that we will get this done on time, and here’s why…”
“I Need This Deal by ____ to Hit My Quota.”
Your client or buyer is on their own schedule, not yours. Sharing your timeline might seem reasonable at first, but in reality your client or buyer is really only invested in their own agenda. You are the one offering the service/product, not the other way around, and suggesting otherwise can make you seem selfish or self-serving.
Instead of prioritizing your timeline, compare it to the client’s, and show how it might affect their deadlines/schedule. Demonstrate the impact that your guarantees will have on their expectations.
Before: “I need this deal done by September 1st to hit my quota.”
Now: “It’ll take a month for materials to arrive, so we should wrap this up by September 1st to allow for that.”
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a hard and fast rejection, and it’s almost impossible to get things back on track afterward. Throwing a singular, “No,” at a client or buyer can shut conversation down faster than anything else. We’re not insisting on being a “yes-man” or compromising on everything, but softening the blow can go a long way on continuing negotiation.
Use positive language to indicate both your empathy and regret, and if possible offer alternative solutions.
Now: “I understand the interest and idea, however it’s unfortunately not possible.”
“You Want a High-Quality Product Right?”
Rhetorical questions are both aggressive and patronizing in a negotiation-setting, and will more often than not make buyers or clients defensive and resentful in return.
Focus on the value of your service and reinforce your strengths and benefits without seeming as if you are talking down to the other party. Lead the customer to their own conclusion by asking price and quality-focused questions.
Before: “You want the most bang for your buck, right?”
Now: “Are you interested in these materials? They are only available in this contract, but there is a way we can guarantee this service as well.”
“I Don’t Usually Do This, But…”
Unless your buyer or client is your childhood friend Billy or your great aunt Marge and you’re giving them a better-than-usual deal (which wouldn’t be strange in those circumstances), these words probably shouldn’t enter the conversation. It comes across as an under-handed tactic to induce gratitude, and can frame you as manipulative or seedy.
If the deal is in fact unusual, then you can explain, however be as straightforward and direct as possible.
Before: “I don’t usually do this but…”
Now: “Normally we only guarantee these results, but since you are signing for two units, we can guarantee these results instead.”
“This Shouldn’t Take Too Long.”
Speed and efficiency might do well on a work site, but in a negotiation situation they can cause stress and make your client or buyer feel like they are on a deadline or not being given your full attention. This can cause both parties to become more stubborn or aggressive, and what were once words meant to reassure can instead signal the end of the conversation.
Reassure them that they have your full time, focus, and energy. Giving both parties as much time to voice concerns, ask questions, and develop a good agreement will lead to much better outcomes.
Before: “This shouldn’t take too long…”
Now: “Are you under any time constraints? I’m happy to spend as long as we need developing this contract to work for both of us.”
“I’ll Send Over the Contract Right Now for You to Review and Sign.”
You may think that negotiations are over, but a working relationship extends far beyond the initial agreement, and remember to be mindful of this the whole time, and especially before their signature is on the page. “Contract” and “signing” are very cold business terms, not necessarily the wording of an invested business partner.
Use friendlier, more collaborative terms like “agreement”, “proposal” and “okay” in order to take the edge off of your phrasing. Your odds of closing will greatly improve.
Before: “I’ll send over the contract right now for you to review and sign.”
Now: “I’ll send over the agreement so that you can review and okay it.”
Avoiding these phrases in negotiations can make all the difference, and are important in cultivating collaborative and efficient working relationships with buyers and clients. Here at Pivot we are happy to help you in curating a reliable sales model and effective marketing strategy to get you the best results.
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