Six Questions to Ask in a Business to Business Sales Negotiation

Any time you feel pressure, start asking questions. We’ve developed an effective sequence of questions (below) that can help you explore the thinking behind any demands your customer makes. These questions will also help you gather new information that can put you in a better position to address the customer’s needs. Plus, asking questions of the customer slows down the sales process and gives you time to think!

Question 1: What I hear you asking for is [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][restate request verbatim]. Is that correct?

The customer’s first demand is often unreasonable and may come as a surprise to you. By repeating it back you achieve two goals: You gain time, perhaps just a few seconds, to think, and, when your customer hears from you exactly what they just demanded, they may recognize it is unreasonable.

Question 2: Can you tell me more about that?

Another great question that can buy you more time to think and uncover valuable information.

Question 3: Other than this issue, is there anything else we need to discuss?

Isolates the demand and prevents the customer from “nibbling,” making additional demands after you have made concessions on the first demand.

Question 4: Could you help me understand why that’s important to you? May I ask, what’s the reason for that?

Behind each negotiation request your customer makes is typically an underlying interest, a reason for it. Understanding your customer’s interests, needs, and motivations in the negotiation will help you find ways to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Question 5: Can you see why [the issue they are contesting] is important to me?

This question asks your customer to see things from your perspective, understand your motives the reason why a certain condition of your proposal is required. It’s a temporary role reversal.

Question 6: Just suppose I was able to gain approval to work with you on [the specific issue], would you be willing to work with me on this other issue?

“Get the OK” suggests some flexibility but limits your authority, which may reduce the pressure on you. The question also asks for a concession from the customer in exchange for a concession from you.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.