Three classic negotiation tactics in action

It was real and so cool.  Someone was using three classic negotiation tactics on me and how elegant and spontaneous. Let me explain nibbling, visual flinch and contrast

The sales woman on the phone was trying to get me interested in a new online sales training tool that I could brand and sell onto my clients. Now I was interested as some clients ask about online learning and how this can be achieved for them and this company seemed to have the solution.

I was interested and was sending out all the signals however it really frustrates me when I have to be so obvious I want to be closed. I wish salespeople would close quicker or at least trial close more.


Anyway we agreed the next steps which would be a meeting with the software developers in Milton Keynes and I was about to say farewell when the salesperson said:

“Did I tell you Paul about the registration fee?”

To which I replied “Noooooo….but go on”

Sensing I was being nibbled I let her continue.

“Yes, it’s to show commitment to the software company if you want to become a training partner which is fair play. When I asked them how much they had in mind they said £2,000”

Visual Flinch

At this point I started to go a little faint and the phone began to wobble in my hands and my legs began to give way. “Hoooow muuuch!” I exclaimed.

“Yes Paul that’s exactly what I said to them”

“Good” I replied “That’s a lot of money in this current climate”

I’d used the classic visual/verbal flinch and I thought it had worked.  But the best bit was about to come next.


“So I talked to them about value Paul and negotiated the registration fee down to £250”

“Now that’s more like it” I replied, thinking that compared to £2,000…£250 is nothing.

I’d firstly been nibbled, in other words, agreed to the deal and then she nibbled me with something else. Then she’d used contrast cleverly to make the £250 appear very small indeed. Clever.

A little final tip for you to make the £250 seem even smaller.  No, don’t break it down into a weekly figure “that’s less than £5 a week” sounds so corny and so 1980’s. Simply leave out the pounds in your words and talk about 250. It just sounds less.

Remember when negotiating use nibbling and ensure you provide a contrast to make something look really small or the opposite if this is your intention. And the visual flinch always gets a result and is a whole lot of fun.