How to deal with 4 types of people at the negotiating table

Imagine this:
You get surrounded by 4 professionals in the room. They are the other side who is willing to negotiate the terms of the agreement with you.

And you are the only person. Stressful or exciting?

I used to be in a scenario like this.

The most daunting part is that I have not interacted with majority of these guys, except a single contact who is coordinating the meeting. But what if there is a way for me to manage their personality types, such that both sides emerge contented from the discussion?

There is no ultimate winner during negotiation; it’s a matter of concessions – the best outcome is to get things agreed that’s positively in your favour.

Let’s look at 4 types of people a salesperson can face:

1. The Smiling Python

He is a guy that will observe the entire proceedings without uttering a word. He sits there quietly, at times taking down a couple of notes, sometimes put a finger at his brow to absorb the conversations. He will smile at you when you maintain eye contact.

Then, he utter a statement like this “I have sat here, weighing the impact of this deal. I don’t like what I hear and see, in fact we are moving too fast. There are things which I feel uncomfortable…..”

What just happen? You get thrown off the chair without warning

Solution: Charm the Smiling Python. He can bite but he can be in check. Praise him and find out exactly why he feels that things are fast, why he is uncomfortable. So, your statement can be “I like that you have spotted how the pace of our discussion is.

I would not have noticed it. I am just curious here – what exactly do you feel uncomfortable about?” Once you gather his opinion, you can either probe more or continue to make him feel assured.


2. The Supporters

Apart from the Decision Maker, there are three other folks in the room. One can be just taking the notes down; the other may just be listening. And who knows, the third person is scanning his eyes around for whatever reason! They are very quiet.

Do not underestimate them, don’t ignore them. One of them can be the Influencer. The other can be the independent Judge. They can be the ones who make or break the deal. I call these people the “Supporters.”

What you can do in this case is to address each and every one of them by their names (yes, remember them, eye contact!), recognize their positions and make sure all are included in the negotiation.

Example – “I hear you, Mr. Decision Maker. (turn to the supporters), looks like we are very near to an agreement. Mr. A, what do you think of this clause since Decision Maker say yes? Mr. B, how will you like the marketing to be? Mr. C, when do you think we can sign off?”

3. The Loudspeaker

I have been through a negotiation and there is this bloke there who stands up and rattles “are you mad? Why are you charging a high price? You should know that we do not agree to it”.

Never retort back quickly with a fierce, sarcastic comment, never say the client is wrong with a loud tone back. Loud and loud will result in more friction. The best way is to have more allies backing up my deal. So here’s what I’ll do – I will use a softer, calming tone to soothe things down – “Mr. A, I recognize your thoughts.

Let’s get some views from the table?” And I turn my eyes to the other folks. By doing this, I will like to assess their viewpoints. There can be a chance that one of them may not be in good terms with Mr. A. If he goes against him, I can be sure he will be a great back-up for me, so he can influence the deal.

If majority agrees with Mr. A, I’ll say “Great! Now let’s see….what if we extend the service to 24 months instead of 12? Mr. C has talked about how he wants to have a long term relationship with us. Longer time frame means we can build a stronger rapport.”

Notice that I didn’t drop the price immediately. The key here is to recognize the Loudspeaker Mr. A’s comments. Empathy may also do the trick. Then, you can explore other concessions to get around the obstacle.

4. The Detailed Spokesman

Sometimes, you can face a situation where an individual goes down to specific criteria of the contract. If you react likewise, chances are the pace of the negotiation gets draggy because both have to agree every major point. No one wins, more people get drowsy instead.

Solution: Appreciate the spokesman’s effort. But pull him out of the picture; get others to focus on the key objectives that are outlined in the meeting. Then, get them to agree on the next steps.

Here’s how I will phrase it – “I fully appreciate your laser focus, Mr. D. Our agenda of the meeting is to get your approval in working out this wonderful joint venture with you. Bahrain is an interesting market and the competition is intense, the facts are in the presentation deck.

We need to come to a conclusion quickly. Mr D, what do you think of us working together on Bahrain? (chances are, he will nod his head. Hence you get his heads up). Shall we turn to page 5 of the contract to agree on 5.5 of your role in the Bahrain market…?”

There can be various situations arose in the room. The strategy is to first identify the type of people you may face on the spot, how you plan to take charge of the conversations and finally to steer it towards the signing of the agreement.

A final tip – be observant to the folks’ non-verbal cues such as their seating posture, the way they look at you etc. From there, you can better gauge their response towards a more conciliatory tone.

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