Negotiating or Lying – How to Tell the Difference with Buyers

One thing I’m consistently asked is “How do you know if the prospect is being truthful with you or just flat out lying to you?”

Nothing like a little controversy to start the new week! Truthful negotiation tactics or just flat out lying to get you to do something? That is the issue at hand today.

Okay, first let’s take a quick look at truthful buyers. These people just tell you up front – “no. Not today. Get out of here. Please leave you’re wasting my time.” The directness of the statements tells you they mean it. They do not or are not going to do business with you. No doubt, no replay, and no reason to continue at the moment.

By the way, this response is most often triggered by your price being higher than they expected or are getting from your low priced competitor. Therefore, no deal or real negotiation. Other than an occasional – “Is this your best price?” When you say yes – the negotiation is officially over. Move on and be thankful for the direct answer.

There are three ways a buyer will provide tips to you that they are not being fully truthful with you at the moment. Especially during price negotiations.

The Three Tips Regarding Possible Lying by the Buyer are…

  1. Eye Contact – Where are they Looking?
    When people are truthful and focused – they look you in the eye and tell you how they feel about things. They are being genuine and truthful and expect you to do the same. However, when someone will not make eye contact with you – they are hiding something or just flat out lying about their position. Do not waste your time with thee people. It is much better to take an aggressive stand and ask questions about their direction and buying criteria. If they cannot answer those questions, then it is possible you are meeting with a fake buyer (there are some of these people – really.)
  2. They Get Personal and / or Opinionated
    Here is where the situation can fall apart very quickly. It begins because the buyer feels the sales person will not confront them about anything in order to stay in the loop for making the sale. So, what happens when the buyer makes a statement Personal and presents an opinion rather than a fact or distorts the facts to their advantage? Most sales people cave into this nonsense and if it is price that is being discussed – lower their price. Bad move since the buyer is at best using a poor negotiation tactic on you. Okay, here is how this works – First, the buyer uses a personal pronoun – I, we, us, or my at the beginning of the sentence, adds an opinion verb – such as “view, perceive, regard, or consider” – and finish will an unfair or non-factual statement (which is obviously wrong) to get your full attention. If you get defensive or make a personal reaction by stating they are wrong, you have officially bitten the rotten apple. Please realize this is a tactic being used upon you to get a better deal. IF you agree to their idea of what is, then you are going to be taken advantage of by some savvy negotiator. Ask objective questions of how they determined this point? What were they points of reason in their action? How is your current supplier handling this issue? Use questions to show you are not going to fall for this trick.
  3. Use veiled Threats to Influence You
    When a real buyer has made a negative decision about buying your solution, they will just say “No” or some other direct version to let you know you lost this time. However, the liar types will use a veiled threat – an either/or or an if /unless statement to see if you will bite. Now you all have heard a buyer say no in the past, so I’m not going to go any more on this topic. However, when you hear something like – “Unless you cut your price, we are not going to be doing any business with you.” “If you don’t cut your price, you’re out of here.” These statements are designed to intimidate or bully you and scare you into cutting your price out of fear of losing the sale. Stop it, do not bite, this is a cheap negotiation tactic – nothing more or less. Here’s something to think about – if they had a cheaper price – why aren’t they already doing business with this group?

There you have the three signs of a less than truthful negotiating buyer. Watch for these traits especially when you get to the pricing of your offerings.

The truth is you want people to be direct and forthcoming about their choices and decisions. The worst case situation is when the buyer leads you on – keeping you in play until they can get a better offer (usually from the existing supplier.). These people waste your valuable time, which as a sales person is the only time you can seriously trade with prospects.

My experience tells me it is better to be working with people who are truly interested in your solutions and offering while understanding that the lowest cost is NOT the best criteria for making a deal work. Improve your probabilities of b2b sales success by spending time with truthful people who want a superior solution for their organization.

One more point: Whenever I am engaged in a coaching situation, I have the person I’m coaching read a book – NLP at Work by Sue Knight. And, for sales people the chapter on Decisive Questions is required. This chapter goes into the communication that is confusing and tricky by design and it shows you how to deal with it. I highly recommend this book for all your human interaction knowledge and expertise.

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Voss Graham

Sr Business Advisor / CEO at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Your Knowledgeable Partner for Business Success and Achievement. Dedicated to helping others get to their next level of success. Award winning business advisor; coach to executives and business owners; Business Growth Strategist; and experienced using assessments for hiring & selection, evaluation of teams and improving communication. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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1 thought on “Negotiating or Lying – How to Tell the Difference with Buyers

  1. Further reading: “What everybody is saying” a good book by someone that made a career in the CIA out of detecting lies (and it is not as easy as I hoped it would be) @robinstacpoole

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