What Happens When a Salesman Says ‘NO’ to a Deal?

After being in sales for almost 20 years, it is my humble opinion that the most challenging phase of a sales process is the negotiation stage. No matter how many self-help books you read or how many hours of coaching you get, trust and collaboration are absolutely essential for win-win negotiation to take place.Detailed and thorough planning prior to the negotiation is a must. This will help to reduce negotiation cycle time and result in enriched outcomes.Below are listed some of the key questions that the sales person needs to ask before getting to a negotiation table:

Have I identified the right decision-makers?

Are each of the decision-makers adequately convinced on my offering?

Who will be on the negotiation table?

Who should accompany me to the negotiation table?

Do I have all the relevant information pertaining to the other party?

Have I drawn up specific objectives/ strategies for each issue that needs to be negotiated?

List of concessions that can be given.

List of concessions that I would expect.

Timeframe within which I would be able to strike the deal.

Have I rehearsed the negotiation conversation?

When will I walk-out on the basis of:


Service demands

Value adds


Negotiation tactics adopted

In the list mentioned above, when to walk-away from a deal is not considered by most sales people; but this can help to close more sales. Here are few benefits of exercising the ability to walk-away from a deal:

Shows your conviction on what you believe: When you continue to remain on the negotiation table long after your final concession was made, you are leaving the other party to believe that you could offer more. On the other hand if you politely show that you have hit your bottom line by walking away, the other party would be convinced and believe what you say. I learnt this as a sales executive selling time shares. My manager walked away from the table saying, “I am afraid we may not be able service you” when the customer fancied one too many additional offers. I was shocked at my manager’s response but within minutes the customer ended up buying the membership saying, “I am happy as long as you deliver what you have promised”.

Helps customers loosen their grip on the ‘positions’ they hold: Arguing with people who are too obstinate to let go off their position leads to a lose-lose outcome or a lose-win. In any case it is a ‘lose’ for you. In such situations it is better to walk-away from a deal. During my days of selling children’s book for one of the biggest business houses in India, a retailer insisted that he could not accommodate book stands in his store. No matter what concessions I gave, he just did not budge from his position. I simply told him I am not keen on doing business and started walking away. This unnerved the obstinate negotiator and he conceded to me having a stand, albeit a smaller stand.

Empowering buyer to sell our position to their bosses: There are times when we cannot get to the ultimate decision maker. In such cases the middle-man, who upon instructions from his boss, tries to get the best out of the deal. These middle-man do not give up on their position nor do they give any concessions. But the tables turn when we start to walk away. They do this primarily to tell their bosses that if they had not given the concession we would have walked out of the deal.

These points simply show that walking out of a deal also needs to have a strategy that you execute on the negotiation table. In other words, be clear on when to walk out of the deal. I can already hear a lot sales people saying it is easier said than done; but, trust me, this is easy if, and only if, you have a long list of prospects at any given point and you are not overly dependent on this sale.

This is the reason why customer service training and negotiation skills training are recommended on a frequent basis for sales personnel.

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