Simon Hazeldine on His Top Five Tips For Sales Negotiations


E3 Founder Simon Hazeldine talks about his top five tips for sales negotiations.

Simon: First and foremost salespeople need to understand that selling is different to negotiating. You should sell first and negotiate second, and the reason for saying that is that selling is the process of understanding the client’s needs, showing how you can help, and also building up the value of your offer or solution or product. The more successfully you communicate that value proposition to the client, the more comfortable the client will be to paying a higher price for it because the more value they see in it, the more money they’ll be prepared to spend on it.

So selling is the process of convincing the customer or the client that they’ll find your product or service beneficial, and negotiation is the process of agreeing the terms upon which the purchase will take place. So sell first, negotiate second; sell first to communicate your value and then negotiate. So I’d say the biggest mistake would be to allow yourself to be dragged too quickly into the negotiation by the client. They will obviously try and do that sometimes in order to lower your ability to communicate value. They’re just trying to get a better deal.

Mark: That’s something I can definitely relate to.

Simon: The second biggest mistake I would think people do is they don’t get inside the other person’s head. What I mean by that is they’re not working hard enough to see things from the perspective of the customer or the person they’re negotiating with. Quite often salespeople will have their own objectives, to close the sale and make their commission, in the front of their mind, and the client’s view or needs in the back of their mind.

I think they ought to switch that around: They ought to have the client’s needs in the front of their mind and have their own objective in the back of their mind. The more you focus on helping the other person get what they want, the easier it is for you to get what you want.

Mark: That reminds me of that Zig Ziglar quote…

Simon: Yes the Ziglar quote, I think it’s, “You can get anything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

Mark: Ah yes that’s the one.

Simon: And then salespeople don’t plan and prepare properly enough for negotiations. They don’t sit down and spend whatever time is necessary to plan things like: What do they want to achieve? What is the customer wanting to achieve? What their negotiation range, from their must-get, which would be the walk-away point, to what would a realistic intent be? What would be a really good deal? Also trying to think and anticipate what the customer’s range is likely to be. And thinking about what areas they can negotiate on, what they can trade, how much it would cost them to give it away, what do they need to get in return for giving that away.

And so I think it’s that whole planning and preparation process. Plan and prepare first; build a good, strong foundation of planning and preparation; then do good quality selling; and then do your negotiation; and try to minimize that as much as possible, I would say.

Mark: Okay.

Simon: The fourth biggest mistake I would see, particularly this relates to salespeople, is the research that shows that very capable negotiators gather far more information than they give information in a negotiation. They’re not gathering more information because they don’t give information, they do give whatever information is necessary for the other side to understand their point. What they do is they gather a lot more information than less capable negotiators, which I think goes back to point number two: Get inside the other person’s head, trying to understand more about what the person needs. Quite often, in my experience, salespeople in negotiations, will do too much information-giving and not enough information-gathering.

Mark: Got you.

Simon: This is, particularly, something that salespeople are prone to. And then I think the fifth biggest mistake is people giving things away for free in their negotiation and not getting something back in return for it. So there’s far too many free concessions being made. The salesperson does not get something back from the client.

So I always say to salespeople, “In negotiation, give to get.” Nothing wrong with giving, providing you’re getting something of equal or greater commercial value back in return. So always trade and, ideally, use the classic conditional proposal, “If you, then I.” If you do this, Mr. Customer, then I will be able to give you this. So for example, if you are able to commit to a three-year contract, then I could revisit our discount level.

Mark: Great.

Simon: So just making sure that you get something back for everything that you give away in negotiation. So I think those would probably be my top five. 

Simon is the founder of E3.

Simon is an international professional speaker and consultant in the areas of sales, negotiation, business performance and applied neuroscience.

You can find more out about Simon and E3 at

Mark Leach is an on-line media strategist and journalist.