Negotiation Styles: Learning the 5 Styles of Negotiation – 2023

No matter who we are, or how we express ourselves, communication is a central part of our personal and professional lives. The ways in which we communicate are partly shaped by our experiences and understanding, all of which affect the way we interact with others.

Our communication styles play an important role in how we negotiate. It can affect how we approach communications and handle conflicts with other parties. So understanding how we communicate and what impact that can have on how we negotiate can help us to be better negotiators with better outcomes. 

When it comes to negotiations, there are classically five distinct styles that people tend to use to communicate. In this article, we will look at each style and explore its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to negotiations.

What Are Negotiation Styles?

Negotiation styles, sometimes known as behaviours, are useful parts of negotiations – both in business settings and in your personal life. They refer to the ways in which we communicate, including sentiment, style, and the words we use, which are shaped by our personal traits, experiences, and background. But we are able to change our negotiation style through knowledge and recognition. 

Learning about how we communicate and how that compares to others can help us to identify aspects of each that work for us. The first step towards changing the way we communicate is to become aware of our style and other styles that are effective. We can then work on developing new skills and strategies to improve our current style, whether that is to be more effective at home or in a negotiation setting.

Why Are Negotiation Styles Important?

Whatever style we have naturally, our negotiation style can have a significant impact on the outcome of a negotiation. So part of being a good negotiator is learning which communication style to use for which situation.

The most successful negotiators can identify which style will be most effective while they are in a negotiation process and can adjust their approach. For example, a competing style may be appropriate when there is a clear winner and loser, while a collaborating style may be more effective when both parties’ interests are aligned around longer term interests.

What Are The Main Types Of Negotiation?

There are 5 common negotiation styles. These include:

  1. Collaborating
  2. Competing
  3. Compromising
  4. Accommodating
  5. Avoiding

By familiarising yourself with these 5 most common negotiation styles, you can become a better negotiator and achieve more favourable outcomes.

  1. Competitive Negotiator

Characterised by striving to win more for themselves than their counter-party, i.e. claiming value. Competitive negotiators prioritise their goals and focus on achieving them as quickly as possible. This means that they often disregard the needs or feelings of the other party – their only focus is to win.

These types of negotiators often rely on their positional power and influence to gain a competitive edge. This usually means that the outcome they strive to achieve is gained and they effectively ‘win’ the negotiation. 

However, depending on the situation, this can lead to negative outcomes. Negotiators who only communicate in a competitive style risk damaging business relationships and ultimately, a company’s reputation. It can be perceived as being aggressive and in extreme cases, bullying, in order to get their own way.

Having two competitive style negotiators on either side of the table is likely to lead to gridlock as neither will concede. 

  1. Collaborative Negotiator

Rather than focusing on the “I win, you lose” mentality of competitive negotiators, collaborative negotiators adopt an “I win, you win” mindset.

A collaborative negotiation style aims to find a balance between the needs of all parties. Usually, they achieve this by investing time in creating and proposing different solutions rather than settling for a quick agreement. They work to find a happy medium in the negotiation so that everyone’s needs are met, which allows for the creation of long-lasting partnerships.

This style is open to finding common ground. However, this style of negotiation may not be conducive to an agreement if they are up against competitive negotiators. So collaborative negotiators need to be aware of their position and not sacrifice their needs in the process to keep the other parties happy.

  1. Compromising Negotiator

The collaborative style of negotiation can sometimes be confused with the compromising style. But the key difference is that a compromising negotiator is more “I win/lose some, you win/lose some” than “you win, I win”.

A compromising negotiation style is when someone is willing to give up some of their interests to meet the other party’s needs, but not all. This can be useful when the parties involved in the process are of equal power. For example, an employee may compromise on the salary for other benefits like flexible working hours. This is the “I win/lose some, you win/lose some” outcome that a compromising negotiator seeks to achieve.

However, this can have its limitations. This style of negotiation can be taken advantage of by the competitive style who try to gain more of an advantage from the process.

  1. Accommodate

On the other end of the specturm, an accommodating negotiation style often results in an “I lose, you win” outcome. 

An accommodating negotiator yields their own needs and interests in favour of meeting the needs of the other parties involved. They often overshare information during the process in order to be liked and foster a positive relationship with others.

This style is good for situations when building a relationship with the other party is far more important than the actual outcome of the negotiation. For example, political negotiations that rely on creating long term allies.

However, in situations where a definitive outcome or agreement is needed, an accommodating negotiation style is not effective.

  1. Avoid

In a complete contrast, an avoiding negotiation style achieves a “lose-lose” model. These people avoid conflict and so avoid addressing issues completely, or uses ambiguous language so no agreement is achieved. 

This type of communicator can miss opportunities and put strain on relationships in both personal and business settings. It generally leads to no negotiation agreement happening, which negatively impacts all parties involved.

Which Negotiation Style Is Best?

When it comes to being a more effective negotiator, it is important to consider using different negotiation styles to suit the situation. The most experienced negotiators understand all of the different styles and know how and when to use them.

Each time you are about to begin a negotiation, you should consider which style or which combination of styles will best suit your aim. To do this you should think about:

  • Is it important to keep a relationship with all parties involved?
  • What style of negotiators are others using who are involved?
  • What is your natural style?
  • What are your desired outcomes?

For more negotiation tips, get advice from expert Mike Lander at Piscari.

Sources: ©ROY J. LEWICKI AND ALEXANDER HIAM, Thomas Kilmann Conflict Resolution Modes 

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Top Strategies To Make Concessions (or Trade Offs) In A Negotiation

While the thought of negotiating concessions may send salespeople into a tailspin, the principle of trade-offs is a core negotiation skill. Negotiation training and coaching is key to success, as it lays the foundation for tackling more advanced negotiation tactics later.

You have to prepare thoroughly in advance of any complex negotiation. You need to understand all the negotiation variables, then define your upper and lower limits. Then, you’ll understand what you can trade-off and when to introduce it.

This article will give you the tools you need to establish a solid foundation for negotiations involving concessions (trade-offs), allowing you to confidently tackle more complex discussions.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the term Trade-Off as it better articulates what you’re doing – it’s an exchange of value between two or more parties.

What Are Trade Offs in a Negotiation?

Put simply, a trade-off is when you are exchanging value with your counter-party. For example “We can reduce the price for X by 5%, if you can commit to a 24 month contract rather than 12 month with no termination for convenience”.

The Pros of Negotiation Trade-Offs

Trade-Offs in our experience are an essential part of negotiating a mutually beneficial deal. Firstly, they can help rescue a negotiation that is not going well, by addressing the points of disagreement or contention. Secondly, trade-offs can help to build relationship trust as it demonstrates flexibility as well as assertiveness.

When a salesperson is willing to make trades, it demonstrates a willingness to find solutions and can create a more positive atmosphere in the negotiation. This, in turn, can help to build trust and strengthen the overall deal.

Negotiation trade-offs can help:

1. Encourage parties to find common ground

By allowing parties to give up something in exchange for something else, negotiation trade-offs can help them to find common ground and come to an agreement that both sides can benefit from.

2. Increase flexibility

Negotiation trade-offs can provide a greater degree of flexibility in negotiations, allowing parties to explore different options and solutions. This can lead to creative solutions and better outcomes. Often deemed to create a win-win outcome, provided, it creates more value for both parties.

3. Build trust

Making trade-offs to reach an agreement can help to build trust between both parties by demonstrating a willingness to work together.

4. Resolve difficult disputes

Giving up something in exchange for something else in order to reach an agreement can help to resolve difficult disputes, as it shows that both parties are willing to make sacrifices to reach a beneficial outcome.

5. Encourage cooperation

By making trade-offs, both parties can demonstrate that they are willing to cooperate and work together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

The Cons of Negotiation Trade-Offs

Negotiation trade-offs can have potential downsides as well. If handled badly, they can put the salesperson in a weak position. The key thing is “an exchange of value”. If the salesperson simply yields to the customer, it’s likely to affect the profitability of the deal. Additionally, it can create tension in the negotiation and potentially damage the relationship between the parties.

Other potential issues with trade-offs include:

1. Potential to Create Unfair Outcomes

Trade-Offs can create an unfair outcome for one of the parties if not planned carefully. This can create resentment and distrust, impacting the relationship between both parties.

2. Inconsistency in Negotiation

Too many trade-offs can lead to inconsistency, confusion and miscommunication, which can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of trust.

3. Unproductive Negotiations

If a party is too quick to trade, without understanding the other party’s interests/motivations, they may miss out on potential opportunities to get better terms or a better deal. This leads to unproductive negotiations, certainly for one of the parties.

4. Loss of Leverage

Making too many trade-offs reduces the leverage of one party. This can lead to one-sided negotiations where one party has the upper hand and may take advantage of the situation.

The 4 Guidelines for Trade-Off Strategies

Follow these four trade-off guidelines to improve the quality and value of your negotiations.

1. Label and Signal Your Trade-Offs

Provide clear signposts when you’re making a trade-off “you say you need X, and on reflection, we can do Y, but we’ll need you to do Z”.

This ensures that the customer is clear that you’re not simply yielding, and that you’re ensuring the negotiations can continue in a spirit of cooperation.

2. Require Reciprocity

After clearly communicating the trade-offs that you’re prepared to make, you need to get a reciprocal commitment from the client.

The salesperson must be confident, well-prepared, and strategic in their approach to requiring reciprocation.

3. It’s a Trade-Off, not a Point Scoring Exercise

If the customer suspects you’re trying to score points, manipulate the negotiation, or overuse your leverage, it could be catastrophic. Both parties must have a clear understanding of each other’s concerns/issues, and needs, in order to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

The important thing is that both parties agree to change something in their deal structure in order to maintain momentum.

4. Make Trade-Offs In Instalments

In other words, this isn’t a game of poker – don’t go “all-in” early. However, this can actually have the opposite effect and make it more difficult to reach an agreement. Break the trade-offs down into smaller pieces and consider when they need to be played.

Additionally, making trade-offs in instalments can make the negotiation feel more like a back-and-forth process, which is more typical and may be expected by the customer. It can also give the salesperson the opportunity to discover that they may not need to make as many trade-offs as they initially thought, and can help to build trust with the customer by demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to accommodate their needs.

Applying The 4 Trade-Off Guidelines To Your Negotiation

Making trade-offs in a negotiation is an important part of reaching an agreement. However, it is important to use them judiciously, as they can potentially lead to an unfair outcome or a one-sided negotiation. 

By following the four guidelines outlined in this article, salespeople can learn how to effectively use trade-offs in their negotiations, while still maintaining a strong position and achieving a mutually beneficial outcome.

For more support in achieving better outcomes from your negotiations, visit our training guides and information pages for more strategies and tactics. 

How to Create True Value in Your Negotiations – Top Tips Revealed

After investing time, effort and money into upskilling your salespeople, you should feel confident in their ability to negotiate and close better deals. However, being able to create value in negotiations requires more than the application of some tools and tactics. It requires tapping into the experience of seasoned commercial leaders to shape creative deals to get the best outcomes.

Negotiations are an essential part of the sales process. And understanding how to create value in the eyes of the buyer is a key factor in securing a successful outcome. But what does it mean to create value in a negotiation, and how can you do it effectively? In this article, we will reveal some top tips for creating value in your negotiations, helping you to close deals and achieve mutually beneficial agreements. Whether you are a seasoned sales professional or just starting out, these strategies will be valuable in your pursuit of successful negotiations.

What is Value Creation in Negotiation?

Value creation in negotiation is about finding a solution that meets the needs and interests of both parties. It allows both parties to walk away from the negotiation feeling satisfied, rather than one party winning at the expense of the other (i.e. win-lose distributive negotiations). To create more value for both parties (i.e. win-win integrative negotiations), a salesperson has to become a Consultant. They have to:

  • Integrate the interests and goals of participants through creative and collaborative problem-solving.
  • Focus on the relationship as well as the substance
  • Understand the inter-play between complex issues
  • Build a clear negotiation process and agree “standards” or “criteria” by mutual agreement.
  • Focus on how to increase the size of the pie, not simply carve-up the pie.
  • Ask questions, jointly problem-solve, build mutually beneficial solutions
  • Constantly build bridges with complex stakeholder groups.

Creating and claiming value are two crucial aspects of a negotiation strategy. In any negotiation, the parties may choose to adopt a co-operative, competitive, or mixed approach. 

Value is created through the process of interest-based negotiations. This involves finding ways to increase the elements of the negotiation that align with each party’s interests. This can be referred to as “joint gains” and leads to mutually beneficial outcomes, also known as a truly “win-win”, integrative solution. 

On the other hand, claiming value involves one party trying to “win” as much as possible, a process known as “distributive negotiations” or “getting a larger slice of the pie.” This leads to a “win-lose” situation, usually causes tension, and potentially causes the negotiation to break down. To claim value, one party will often try to:

  • Minimize, play-down, the value of the other party’s offering.
  • Exaggerate the value of their own offering or position.
  • Concede slowly/reluctantly
  • Out-wait the other party.

Be careful. If this is your natural negotiation style, these tactics may backfire badly. For example, if the other party feels that they are being manipulated, and they’ve thought through their BATNA, they’ll walk-away and spread the word about your aggressive tactics.

What Is A Negotiable Value?

A negotiable value is something that can be used in a negotiation to help both parties reach an agreement. It is important to understand whether the negotiable element you are offering has value to the other party. If the other party genuinely needs or wants what you are offering, it can be used as a trading tool. For example, if a salesperson knows that a customer requires customer support through an app that their company already has in place, they can use this as a value-add in the negotiation.

In simple terms, find something that costs you very little but means a lot to your counterparty.

How To Add Value in a Negotiation and become an Integrative Negotiator

1. Build Trust

Trust is a crucial element in any negotiation, and customers are more likely to engage in meaningful conversations with salespeople they believe have their best interests at heart. Building genuine relationships with customers helps to establish trust and reduce risks.

Sharing information and being vulnerable, while still maintaining appropriate boundaries, can help to build confidence and trust with customers. Be authentic and genuine in your interactions and relationship-building efforts, as customers can easily sense fakes and phonies.

Asking open-ended questions and showing a genuine interest in understanding and solving the customer’s problems helps build trust.

2. Find Uncommon Ground

To create value in a negotiation, it is important to focus on areas where the salesperson and customer have different interests and goals. Instead of addressing each issue individually, it can be more effective to consider multiple differences or issues collectively. This allows the salesperson to find ways to benefit both parties by addressing the uncommon ground between them. Focusing on individual differences or issues can cause the customer to become overly focused on finding a solution for each one, rather than considering the broader context of the negotiation. To avoid this, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind and not get too caught up in individual issues.

3. Be Agile

Being a successful negotiator requires the ability to think on your feet and handle tricky situations. While preparation is essential, it is also important to be able to adapt to changing circumstances during negotiations. To do this, salespeople should have a clear understanding of their end goal and be able to utilize their negotiation skills and tactics effectively. Listening to the customer’s needs and being open to finding creative solutions to issues that arise is essential in successful negotiations.

4. Focus on a “Win-Win” Agreement

While it may be tempting to focus on claiming value as much as possible in negotiations, it’s ultimately more beneficial for both parties to seek a “win-win” solution. Here are some tips for salespeople looking to strengthen their chances of repeat customers through mutually beneficial negotiations:

  1. Be open and honest with the customer and communicate your desire to work towards a mutually beneficial agreement. This can help to build trust and foster a positive relationship.
  2. Develop strong interpersonal skills and take the time to build relationships within your industry. These connections can be valuable in providing informal character references and recommendations to customers.
  3. You have to help the customer understand the ROI from the solution you’re proposing. This can help to differentiate you from competitors and increase the likelihood of a successful negotiation.

Negotiation Pitfalls to Avoid

Focusing solely on your own interests

You’ve got to consciously find out about and consider your customer’s interests. What are their motivations for doing this deal? What’s in it for them personally? Once you understand their real motivations/interests, you’ll find ways to create value for both parties.

Neglecting to build trust

Don’t slip into the habit of being a highly competitive negotiator (i.e. focused only on the substance of the deal and ignoring the relationships). Building trust with the customer is crucial for successful negotiations and long term benefits for everyone. Being open, honest, and slightly vulnerable can often have surprising results. You’ll need strong interpersonal skills, high EQ, and the ability to show a genuine interest in solving the customer’s problems. To learn more about building trust, watch this excellent 6 minute video 


Rushing into a negotiation and trying to secure a “win” too quickly often ends badly. It signals to the customer that you aren’t interested in understanding their real needs/issues/interests. If your counterparty is an experienced commercial negotiator, it will also back-fire on you as the complexities reveal themselves. To avoid this, simply slow down, ask open-ended questions, understand the customer’s context, and take the time to think of appropriate solutions/options. 

Lacking Confidence

On the other hand, lacking confidence and becoming overly accommodating can also be detrimental to a negotiation. It can cause customers to lack trust in the salesperson and the process and seek solutions elsewhere. Confidence is a complex topic and there are lots of books on the topic. This article is a good starting point 

Personalities getting in the way

In summary, this is the inability to separate the people from the problem. Avoid this by, taking emotions out of the negotiation


Successful negotiations require careful and thorough preparation, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to see things from the other person’s perspective. By focusing on creating value for both parties and building trust, you can establish long-term relationships with customers and increase your chances of repeat business. With practice and experience, you can hone your negotiation skills and become an expert in the art of creating value and finding mutually beneficial solutions.

For more training and tips on becoming a more successful negotiator, visit our resources at

Anchoring in Negotiation – 3 Proven Tactics For Better Deals

Negotiations are an integral part of business. Negotiating successfully means learning critical foundation techniques to optimise the outcome. One of these foundation techniques is anchoring, which involves setting the initial offer, or target price, to influence the outcome of the negotiation. Anchoring is a powerful tool in your negotiation toolbox, however, used badly, it can destroy a negotiation before you even get started.

Anchoring techniques are vital for sales people during the whole sales cycle, not just at the contract negotiation stage. In this guide to anchoring, we look at what the technique is and how it can be used to achieve better deals.

What are Anchor Points, Target Points and Reservation Values

Let’s get some terminology straight before we start. Here are our definitions:

  • Anchor Point: The starting point for your negotiations
  • Target Point: Where you’d ideally like to end up
  • Reservation Value: Your “least acceptable outcome”

An Anchor Point is typically the starting point of a negotiation. From the Anchor, there is then a negotiation process to land at the end-point for a commercial structure that works for both parties.

A Target Point, also known as the “most desirable outcome”, is not revealed to your counterparty. It’s your ideal outcome if everything went your way. For example, a salesperson may have an ideal price in mind (for a given scope) that they would like to obtain for their products or services.

Your Reservation Value is your end-stop, your line-in-the-sand. You also don’t reveal your reservation value until the end of the negotiation cycle, when it will naturally reveal itself. For example,  “this is my best and final offer, we can’t go beyond this point”. If your counterparty tries to push beyond this point, you should exercise your BATNA.

How is an Anchor Point used in a Negotiation?

Anchoring is an attempt to establish the main reference points that negotiations will revolve around. This anchor point can, and often is, used as a point to make negotiation adjustments – this can be things such as price points, timescales, the output provided, scope, payment terms, contract length, etc. An Anchor point is usually presented early in the sales cycle/negotiations.

There’s been a lot of research into anchoring, and not just in the context of negotiations. All the findings point towards the fact that human beings are psychologically influenced by first anchors.

Therefore, the initial price presented in a negotiation can significantly impact the decision-making process of the customer. This initial figure, or anchor point, serves as your reference point for the customer to consider when determining the value of the deal. 

However, be careful. When planning your initial offer, in order to effectively utilise anchoring bias in the negotiation, it must be realistic. So, what constitutes a realistic anchor? This is a complex topic, but here’s some principles we think you should adhere to:

  • As a seller, you should anchor-high, but be realistic. What this means is, buyers aren’t fools. They can easily research the market for value points, and may have bought something similar before.
  • Have a justification for when the buyer says “wow, that’s a lot more than I expected”. You need to be able to explain, logically, why your products/services attract a premium.
  • Be prepared for the buyer to counter-anchor – see below! You need to be flexible, and ensure that the buyer is in the right psychological mindset to negotiate around your anchor.

Challenges of Anchoring in Negotiation

There are a number of challenges with anchoring which you need to understand before using this powerful technique:

  • In a sales situation, you can’t simply throw down a random high-ball number. You’ll get found out really quickly, which will damage your credibility.
  • Buyers are savvy, you have to do more research than them to deliver a realistic high-anchor. There has to be a Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA).
  • Negotiation around the anchor point in order to reach agreement needs to be carefully planned. As you start to negotiate, you’re signalling psychologically with every counter-offer.
  • Experienced buyers are trained in counter-anchoring techniques.
  • If the buyer is experienced with a seller’s offerings, they’ll immediately start negotiations with their anchor.

If the two parties have wildly different expectations from the beginning, it can lead to breakdowns in communication and early aborted deals. If the customer makes the first offer (anchor) with a much lower price than the seller has in mind, it can be extremely difficult to persuade them to accept a higher price.

How to Make an Effective First Anchor as a Seller

Here’s our 3 step process to making an effective, credible, opening anchor as a seller:

  1. Do your research and get your positioning right

Talk to your sales manager/director. Make sure that your proposition pricing strategy has option-trade-offs embedded into it. Check your proposition’s positioning against your close competitors. Make sure you have an ROI argument. Scan the web for recent news articles about your prospect that could impact this deal.

  1. Design your Anchor and ZOPA

Based on your research, design your anchor(s) at the top of the market. Make sure there’s room for negotiations and trade-offs. Understand the ZOPA (as far as you can). Work out the negotiation trade-off rounds. Each round of negotiations (ideally a max of 2-3) should signal to your counterparty, psychologically, that you’re getting closer to your best and final offer for those sets of negotiation variables. This is a more advanced technique.

  1. Deliver the anchor and defences

Confidence plays a significant part in any negotiation. And confidence, for most of us, is aided significantly by preparation. Take all your preparation, meet with your counterparty, set the scene, then lay out your anchor(s) with the rationale. Note: this doesn’t mean “justifying your anchor” which can be seen as defensive and weakens your position. Again, this is a more advanced technique.

How to Counter-Anchor your Prospect’s Initial Offer

So what happens if your prospect makes the first offer (anchor)? There are proven techniques for overcoming initial anchors from your prospects. Here’s our top 3 tips:

  1. Do Your Research in anticipation of their anchor

Effective preparation is crucial for any negotiation. Conducting thorough research on the customer’s background, needs, and budget helps ensure that a selling price can be proposed that is high, yet realistic. Prepare various solutions that address the customer’s needs with different commercial models/price-points. Research the prices and services offered by competitors in order to anticipate and address any references the customer may make during the negotiation.

  1. Defuse/refute the anchor point

It’s tempting to go straight to a counter-anchor when faced with an “outrageous” starting anchor from your counterparty – don’t! First, gather your thoughts, calm the mind, and then point out, logically, why their initial anchor isn’t acceptable. Use market data/research to refute the anchor, explain why it’s absolutely not acceptable, and dis-arm your counterparty.

  1. Propose A Counter-Anchor

Once you’ve refuted their anchor, provide your own counter-anchor (with a justification). For example:

  • A prospect indicates a budget of $35,000 with a poorly defined scope and target outcomes.
  • Your minimum price (reservation value) is $40,000 for your well defined scope/value proposition. You know the comparable market price range is $40,000 to $50,000.
  • You refute the $35,000 initial anchor as unacceptable,you point to some independent market data/research validating why, you explain the value created by your product/service
  • You counter-anchor at $49,000, explaining your offer and illustrating the ROI.

Be prepared to exercise your BATNA if the prospect won’t respond to your counter-anchor. Avoid bad-deals by preparing well, knowing how to counter-anchor, and knowing your value.


What appears at first sight to be a simple technique is in fact far more complex. Use the techniques above to:

  • Understand the foundations, and the differences between anchoring, targets and reservation values.
  • Plan for making an effective, credible anchor(s), with confidence.
  • Know what to do when your prospect makes the first offer instead, in order to get yourself back on track.

For more negotiation tips and training, visit our advice section at

How To Use The Reservation Point In Negotiations For Better Deals

For Better Deals

The art of negotiation is an important skill in any business setting, and the use of a reservation point is one of the keys to success. A reservation point is the lowest point you are willing to accept for selling your product/service – we often call it your “least acceptable outcome”. Knowing how to use it effectively will help you get what you need in your next negotiation. It will also enable you to walk away from bad deals and exercise your BATNA.

This article will provide an overview of what a reservation point is and how to use it to get the best deals in any situation.

What Is The Reservation Point In A Negotiation?

The reservation point in a negotiation is the point at which a negotiator is no longer willing to make any further concessions and is prepared to walk away from the deal. It is the point at which the negotiator feels they have traded as much as they can, and any further concessions would be too costly.

This usually happens when there is an established highest price at which a customer is willing to purchase a product/service and the lowest price that a salesperson is willing to sell the product or service.

Why Is Reservation Point Important?

Having the confidence to walk away from a deal that doesn’t work for you is essential. Part of knowing when to walk away is understanding your reservation point.

Setting clear expectations about reservation points, specifically in relation to price/service offerings, is important for successful sales teams. Sales people need clear guidelines about how much leeway they’ve got when negotiating a deal.

How To Calculate A Reservation Price

In nearly every negotiation, a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is directly tied to a Reservation Price. Thinking through your BATNA and the trigger points is essential to knowing when it’s time to walk away from a deal and pursue your best alternative.

What Is A BATNA?

A Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is the most favourable alternative course of action a negotiator can take if no agreement is reached or viable. It’s the minimum outcome you are willing to accept from a negotiation before you’ll walk away.

According to HBR/PoN, BATNA , there are four steps to developing your BATNA:

Step 1: List your alternatives. Think about all the alternatives available to you if the current negotiation ends in an impasse. What are your no-deal options?

Step 2: Evaluate your alternatives. Examine each option and calculate the value (financial and non-financial) of pursuing each one.

Step 3: Establish your BATNA. Choose a course of action that would have the highest expected value for you. This is your BATNA—the course you should pursue if the current negotiation fails.

Step 4: Calculate your reservation value. Now that you know your BATNA, calculate your reservation value (i.e. the lowest-valued deal you are willing to accept). If the value of the deal proposed to you is lower than your reservation value, you’ll be better off rejecting the offer and pursuing your BATNA. If the final offer is higher than your reservation value, you should accept it.

Note: The above 4 steps are a direct quote from the source material.

How To Calculate A Reservation Point

Clarity on your reservation point is essential for a salesperson to avoid two mistakes.

  • Firstly, it ensures a salesperson avoids accepting a deal that is worse than the established least-acceptable-outcome for this deal.
  • Secondly, with the right preparation, it ensures the sales person is mentally prepared to start signalling to the client that you’re reaching the end of the line.

Once a salesperson has identified their BATNA, they’re in a strong position to calculate a Reservation Point – this is a “walk-away” point in the upcoming negotiation. In a negotiation where multiple issues are at stake, a reservation point will include several variables, e.g. price, scope, contract duration, termination rights, etc.

The skill here is building reservation points that enable you to trade off variables with your counterparty. This enables them to get a win, and for you to achieve a deal that is much better than your reservation points.

Should You Reveal Your Reservation Point In Negotiation?

In short, no, never – you should not reveal your reservation point in negotiation.

As much as it can be tempting to be fully open and honest with a customer, salespeople really do need to be aware of the amount of information that is being shared with a potential prospect. 

Revealing a Reservation Point within a negotiation is one of the biggest mistakes that a salesperson can make, as it leaves them wide open to having a weakened proposition exploited. It’s important for a salesperson to play their hand wisely. Under no circumstance should they give up this information when speaking with a customer.

What will become obvious to your customer, is that you’ve reached the limit of the negotiation, beyond which, you’ll walk away and exercise your BATNA. The skilled negotiator knows how to construct an effective deal that is nowhere near their reservation point, yet is still valuable to the customer.

Apply Your Reservation Technique To Your Negotiations

From Anchoring (insert link to Anchoring blog) to Concessions (link to Concessions blog) , there are many tactics which can be included in discussions in order to achieve the desired outcome. 

The Reservation Point within negotiations is another element which can help you to achieve what you want out of your future negotiations. However, as we have seen in this article, you will need to have a clear understanding of your reservation point and BATNA before entering into any negotiation.

For more negotiation techniques and tips, read our advice section at Piscari.

How to Manage A Contract Renewal in 2022 & Beyond

Despite being a necessary element of negotiation, the subject of contract renewal can often be an uncomfortable one. Broaching the subject of continuing or extending a contract can be difficult, especially if key stakeholders have moved-on inside the client. To succeed, you’ll need a negotiation strategy and negotiation skills to ensure it’s a profitable and rewarding renewal for both sides.

What Are Contract Renewals?

A contract renewal could be considered as the last stage of a contract or negotiation lifecycle. One way of looking at a contract renewal is that they’re a gauge of whether your client is delighted with the progress that’s been made against their target outcomes. Put simply, they’re a follow-up negotiation to extend the terms of your original agreement with an existing client.

Some Key Elements to Any Contract

Before we start talking about renewals, let’s take a step back and look at some key contractual elements that you will be negotiating:

  • Firstly, the 20/30/50 page behemoth that’s often called the Master Services Agreement (MSA) – this is where 95% of the contractual terms are negotiated. Take great care with this as it lasts throughout the working life of your relationship with the client
  • Schedules attached to the MSA, for example Security Policies, Change Request Processes, SLAs/KPIs, Statement of Works (SoW), Pricing Schedule, etc. The SoW being predominantly where you specify the work you’ll be doing.
  • Contract Term: This is the nominal length of the contractual relationship
  • Notice Period: How much advance notice either party must give to the other if they want to end the agreement. Beware, these are often different for the client and vendor.
  • Payment Terms: How long it will be before you receive the cash once you’ve invoiced. We’ve written a blog on Payment Terms.
  • Termination Rights: Broadly falls into two categories. “Termination for Convenience” and “Termination for Performance”. Ideally, you don’t want to ever accept Termination for Convenience, however, clients nearly always want this right – it’s a tricky negotiation so get expert advice.

We mention them here because once you’ve negotiated specific items in the Master Services Agreement, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to change them as part of a renewal negotiation. The main things you’ll be negotiating at renewal are the SoW, Pricing Schedule and SLAs/KPIs.

Contract Renewals Are Vital Growth Opportunities For Your Business

Once you’ve gone through the initial procurement negotiation process and the customer has signed the initial agreement, this is where the work really begins. Depending on the supplier’s strategy and organisation design, there are broadly two models for managing contract renewals:

  • The sales person retains the sales relationship with the client for as long as they work together. Therefore, the sales lead does the renewal negotiations
  • The client is handed over to service delivery. In these cases, it’s usually the role of an Account Manager and/or Project Manager to negotiate the renewals.

From the moment that the client decides to contractually work with you, they’ll be tracking progress against targets and the quality/professionalism of the experience. Allowing a few months of settling-in and understanding how each party works is key. It’s important for both sides to take-stock of any material changes they’d like to make in the future and to keep notes.

However, as you approach the end of the initial Term (length) of the contract, it’s a great opportunity to review:

  • Are there other services that you provide which can be included in a contract renewal with an increase in budget? 
  • Are there issues brought up by a client at a contract renewal which could improve the way you work?
  • Are there competitors that your client mentions at a contract renewal, which could give you insight into how they work? 
  • Do you believe that you have undercharged for the services your client ended up requiring?
  • Are you the perfect fit for the client that you initially thought, or is it time to walk away?

The list is vast when it comes to making a contract renewal work for you, and it’s important to remember that it’s a two-way street. Before talking about renewals, you have to ensure that you’re delivering/exceeding the client’s expectations. Have you solved the initial business problem and delivered tangible benefits?

Prior to renewals, in-fact at the start of the contract, you need a clear way of:

  • Measuring and reporting progress against SLAs/KPIs
  • Holding weekly/monthly/quarterly reviews with different stakeholder communities
  • Keeping lines of communication open so that clients can discuss any issues as they arise.

You don’t want to be left floundering at the point of contract renewal, with no way of being able to claw the relationship back.

Preparing For Contract Renewals

You have to build an engagement and negotiation plan for a contract renewal at least 3 months (and ideally 6 months) ahead. You need to take into account all the data you’ve collected (soft and hard) from your own team and the client. Preparing for a contract renewal negotiation is almost the same as the initial negotiation, except now you have the benefit of data, performance and relationships.

How Should You Manage Contract Renewals?

You should create a standard process and templates for contract renewals, just like you would for new-business-sales. As you build your contract renewal strategy and negotiation plan, think about the following:

  • Have you provided everything that you promised to the client?
  • Have there been any issues that needed resolving during the time you’ve been providing your services?
  • Were these issues resolved in a timely manner?
  • Are there additional things that you’d like to add to the renewed contract?
  • If these additions aren’t accepted by the client, does this mean that your business wouldn’t want to renew?
  • Has the relationship with the client remained positive and collaborative?
  • Do you want to continue to provide a service or product to the client?
  • Has this been a profitable relationship?
  • Do you need to change your pricing, KPIs and SoW to improve profitability whilst still hitting target KPIs?
  • Were the client’s initial expectations realistic about what could be achieved?

Once you’ve been able to answer these questions, you’ll be able to formulate a plan on how to discuss this with the client. They’ll have the same type of questions on their mind, so it’s good to get an idea of where their thoughts are on renewing their contract early on in your discussions. While it’s important to maintain the relationship and fight for a contract renewal, don’t feel like you can’t walk away if it no longer suits the business. You’ll gain more confidence as a salesperson if you collectively admit that the client relationship no longer benefits the business or indeed both parties.

In essence, use the same formal preparation that you used in your initial negotiations and you won’t go too far wrong. Preparation, data and a clear negotiation plan are critical to successful contract renewals.

How Using A Negotiation Coach Can Make You a Better Negotiator

Even the most successful negotiators are constantly learning and growing their skills. This usually involves attending advanced/niche training programmes, or by using a negotiation coach (or mentor – see below). By utilising the deep experience that a Negotiation Coach has, you’ll be able to strengthen your own negotiation skills and see things you’d missed. Wherever you are in your negotiation journey, utilising the skills of a Negotiation Coach could be the element you’re missing to accelerate your performance and improve the outcomes.

A Quick Word On Coaching versus Mentoring?

Most of us use the words Coaching and Mentoring interchangeably. However, here are three of the key differences:

  • Delivery style of the Giver: Coaching relies on the Coach asking insightful questions and the Coachee finding their own answers. Whereas Mentoring relies upon the deep expertise of the Mentor to help the Mentee answer questions quickly, avoid tank-traps and build solutions together.
  • Learning style of the receiver: Coaching is non-directive (e.g. “Can you please describe the underlying root causes of the problem you’ve just described?”) whereas Mentoring is directive (e.g. “I’ve seen something similar before, and in that situation, this is what I did and this is the outcome”.
  • Experience: Mentors typically have deep, hands-on experience of the situation that the Mentee is grappling with. Coaches have deep experience in asking the Coachee exactly the right questions to help them discover/unlock the answers for themselves.

In our experience, solving challenging negotiation problems requires Mentoring rather than Coaching. However, as 95% of the population prefer the word Coach, we’ll stick with that for the rest of this blog.

What Is A Negotiation Coach?

A Negotiation Coach works with a client on a specific deal (or number of deals). Their role is to provide deep insights into handling similar negotiation situations. They develop negotiation strategies, prepare the client in advance of negotiation interactions and debrief/re-plan after each intervention.

What does a Negotiation Coach Do?

They’ll usually do a combination of the following:

  • Spend time understanding the background of the situation in a lot of detail.
  • Support the client in getting as much information as possible about their counterparty’s options, the value of this deal to them, and the competitive landscape.
  • Provide tools, templates, checklists and techniques to improve the quality of the preparation and interactions with the counterparty.
  • Work with the client to clarify their objectives, BATNA, objective criteria
  • Build an ideal timeline and milestones to get the deal done
  • Build a list of all the negotiation variables and map out the ideal and least acceptable outcomes
  • Build a negotiation strategy and tactical plan in collaboration with the client
  • Prepare the client for negotiation meetings and re-group afterwards to review the strategy, tactics and re-plan

Negotiation Coaches will have seen similar situations and understand likely scenarios which will help deliver a more robust strategy. A Negotiation Coach can’t guarantee the outcome, but they can ensure that the client is exceptionally well prepared and has access to extensive negotiation experience. This combination generates >80% of the value in any negotiation situation.

Why Are Some Coaches More Expensive Than Others?

As with all aspects of life, the price of goods and services is usually dependent on the level of experience, skills and value on offer. Negotiation coaches operate a wide range of commercial models including:

  • Hourly rate
  • Fixed price
  • Base fee + success fee
  • Retainers
  • A combination of the above

Five Ways A Negotiation Coach Can Benefit You

  1. It Can Prevent Fear From Destroying Value

Using well-defined and practised strategies will enable increased confidence when negotiating with your counterparty. Having an increase in confidence will have a positive impact on any fear which may have previously held you back.

  1. It Will Enable You To Become More Decisive

Having a professional negotiation coach will help you reach better commercial decisions quicker. Seeking out new ways of coming to a conclusion will help not only in the workplace but in everyday life too. You’ll become more assertive and decisive when trying to ascertain what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and what are the viable alternatives if agreement can’t be reached.

  1. You’ll Be Able To Articulate Your Needs In A Clearer Way

It may be that you have a perfectly solid negotiation technique, which simply needs a different perspective. A Negotiation Coach will help you to articulate what your non-negotiables are during each negotiation and what you’ll settle on.

  1. You’ll Move Away From Limiting Beliefs

Even at the top of your game, imposter syndrome can strike. Having even the briefest flash of self-doubt or limiting beliefs can cause a negotiation to fail. Using a Negotiation Coach will allow you to overcome these negative thoughts and reframe them.

  1. You’ll Be Able To Overcome Interpersonal Resistance

Everyone can meet interpersonal resistance when you engage with your counterparty. Hiring a Negotiation Coach will give you the skills needed to interact with any counterparty to get closer to your desired outcomes. A Negotiation Coach will often roleplay potential scenarios or roadblocks so you can develop strategies to overcome all types of resistance.


A Negotiation Coach is a critical addition to your negotiation toolkit for more complex deals. In summary:

  • A negotiation coach develops negotiation strategies, prepares the client in advance of negotiation interactions and debriefs/re-plans after each discussion with the counterparty.
  • Negotiation Coaches will have seen similar situations to the one’s you’re facing, they understand the likely scenarios and can help you prepare for more successful negotiations.
  • Negotiation coaches can help you with the emotional stresses of any negotiation

Learn more about our negotiation coach, Mike Lander, and discover how Piscari Negotiation coaching can help you to become a better negotiatior.

What Are Negotiation Tools?

Millions of us have jobs that require us to negotiate in some form every day. Yet, most of us don’t know how to negotiate effectively or how to use tools to aid the negotiation process. 

Knowing how to negotiate, what it’s really all about, and what techniques to use will increase the quality and value of the outcome. So, read on to learn a little more about what negotiation tools are, and more importantly, how they can help you to succeed in any negotiation.

What Is Negotiation? 

Negotiation is the ability to open up a dialogue between various parties, in an attempt to reach a mutually agreed resolution.

Whether you notice it or not, negotiating happens in nearly all aspects of life. For example, deciding which restaurant to meet a friend, or trying to get your kids into bed are both forms of negotiation.

Why Are Some People Better Negotiators Than Others?

Like everything in life, negotiating comes more naturally to some, but not all of us. There are however common traits that lead to a poor outcome. For example, being woefully underprepared. Failing to do your research, being too tactical, or just a basic lack of essential skills causes people to fall short.

Fortunately, many of these issues can be fixed easily. You can learn how to negotiate consistently better outcomes by discovering tips, techniques and tools to help you prepare. For example, follow these four simple steps for a better negotiation every time:

  • Understand the context and define your objectives
  • Define a timeline and key milestones
  • Think through all the negotiation variables and your best/worst outcomes
  • Keep track of issues as they come up and resolve them

You can find a Negotiation Workbook that will help you get it right every time here: 

What Types of Negotiation tactics Might You Meet?

There are some tactics that crop up frequently when negotiating. Here are just four common ones.

  • The Table Thumper: [preceded by a loud bang on the table] “This is outrageous and not what we’d agreed!” This bullying negotiator will use emotion and anger to overwhelm you. They want you to doubt your own memory of what was agreed and cave in.
  • The Low-Baller: “Your services aren’t worth anywhere near $50,000, you’re deluded. The most we’re going to pay is $30,000. Take it or leave it, I’m busy.” This is a classic negotiation-anchoring technique, rather than what they’re ultimately prepared to pay.
  • The Deadline Maker: “We close our supplier shortlist at 9.30am tomorrow, you’d better sharpen your pencils if you want to be in with a chance.” Deadlines can force you to make irrational choices. They may be artificial or real.
  • The Last-Minute Chipper also known as the ‘Columbo Negotiator’: “Ooh, just before you leave, there’s just one more thing…” You think you’re close to the finish line, so you’ll accept anything to get it done.

Negotiation Tools and Techniques

Here are some techniques and tools that will make you a better negotiator every time.

3 Negotiation Techniques

  1. Do Your Homework on your counter-party – there’s nothing worse than a negotiator who has no clue about the business they’re selling to.
  2. Your Negotiation Style – decide whether your looking to collaborate or play hard-ball. All the research indicates that collaboration and give-and-take delivers consistently better outcomes.
  3. Improve the Quality and Value of the Outcome – Plan out your negotiation carefully. Think through all the negotiation variables. Work out where you can concede and where you can create more value.

3 Negotiation Tools

You don’t need to have every negotiation figured out on your own and there are plenty of optional planning tools available to help you along the way.

  1. ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement)
  2. MDO-LAO (Most Desirable Offer and Least Acceptable Offer) )
  3. BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) 

Learn More About Being A Better Negotiator

There are many insider secrets to negotiation that we’ve pulled together for you, along with everything you need to know about selling to procurement professionals and various other courses designed to help you strengthen your existing skills.

Aggressive negotiation tactics: be prepared & keep your cool

Aggressive Negotiation Tactics

We all learn social norms as we grow up: the rules of how to engage and communicate with people. Some of us are arguably better communicators than others — for example, people with natural charisma and confidence tend to break the ice and make others feel at ease in new situations. Good listeners who ask lots of questions make for excellent dinner party guests. It’s a natural human instinct to make connections and be liked. So, for many of us, it can feel especially unnatural to abandon social norms at the negotiating table. When faced with aggressive negotiation tactics, it can be a real shock to the system and can be inherently destabilising.

But the good news is, there are ways you can prepare and rebuke this kind of negotiation technique, without feeling like you have to morph into a cast member of Succession. The cut-throat world depicted in the TV show might be fictional, but there’s no doubt that some hardened negotiators do indeed employ some ferocious techniques to drive their side of the bargain. 

In this article, we’ll dig into some of these aggressive negotiation techniques, how to be prepared for them, and how to respond to them without losing your head. 

What are some examples of aggressive negotiation tactics?

Aggressive negotiation tactics include:

  • The Table Thumper “This is outrageous and nothing close to what I thought we’d agreed!” This bullying negotiator will use emotion and anger to overwhelm you into giving in. They may sprinkle a bit of gaslighting in to boot, relying on you to doubt your own memory of what was agreed and buckle under the pressure.
  • The Low-Ball Anchor “Your services aren’t worth anywhere near $50,000. The most we’re ever going to pay is $30,000. Take it or leave it.” Firstly, recognise that this is a negotiation-anchoring technique, rather than a true representation of what they’re ultimately prepared to pay. Typically, people drift around the first anchor proposed when negotiating.
  • The Authorisation Trap “Are you authorised to do a deal with me? Can you sign the contract? If not, you can leave now, there’s the door.” This tactic aims to undermine your position, encouraging you to spring into action to prove yourself. It’s also a way of your counterparty trying to put you in the “child” role with them as the “parent” (see the PAC model for further reading).
  • The Deadline “We close out on supplier short-list selection for this project at 09:30 tomorrow, you’d better sharpen your pencil if you want to be in with a chance.” Deadlines pressure you to make irrational choices and are used to create movement. They may be artificial or real so ignore them at your peril.
  • The Bluffer “I’ve got a dozen people like you calling me every day. If you won’t yield on price, I’ll just call one of them back and we’ll do a deal with them.” Competition is a powerful pressure tactic, especially from big global brands.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop “Look, I want this to go through as much as you do — especially so we can avoid bringing in Jo, who believe me, will tear you apart. We need to get this deal through now on these terms.” This technique allows the negotiator to try and smooth over cracks in the deal by comparing it to how it could be so much worse — the fact is, it could be a bad deal as it is, so never be strong-armed into accepting one-sided deals just because mythical threats are brought to the table.
  • The Constant Chipper They’re always chipping away at your offer, just because they feel they can. A succession of small chips can unnecessarily drag out negotiations, ultimately causing you to lose patience and agree simply to get the deal over the line.
  • The Last-Minute Chipper, aka the “Columbo technique”. “Before you go, there’s just one more thing…” This technique supposes that, because you’re so close to the finish line, you’ll begrudgingly accept this last condition, no matter how unreasonable it is. There is also a balance of power in the negotiation at play here, your counterparty may believe that you’ve mentally booked the deal in your head so be careful of your body language.

All of these techniques are carefully designed by some trained negotiators to get an emotional reaction from you. Emotions will derail you at the negotiating table and enable your counterparty to claim more value.

So what should you do about these aggressive negotiation tactics when they happen to you?

A lot of the time, you can address aggressive negotiation techniques simply by demonstrating that you know what they’re doing and using countering or disarming techniques. Once people have been found out once, they’re less likely to try it again.

One thing that definitely helps is “naming the game”. Even if you only do this in your mind, recognising and acknowledging their behaviour for what it is — a tactic — will help reduce the anxiety that it can cause.

Let’s get into some practical examples of how to counter some of these tactics:

  • The Table Thumper: Counter with facts. Respond with something like “It looks like we’ve got a communication problem, let me clarify what we agreed when …”
  • The Low-Ball Anchor: The best way to deal with a low-ball offer is to be knowledgeable about the true market rate, understand the ROI for the client and clarify the scope of what you’re offering. What you’re trying to do is re-anchor the discussions to your price based around your deep expertise and market knowledge.
  • The Authorisation Trap: Simply say “I’m authorised to negotiate a deal with you, and whatever we finally agree won’t be altered by my bosses. However, the contract will need to be signed by a Company Director”.
  • The Deadline: Check what is actually required by the deadline and also state “To be clear, our deadline-driven response won’t represent a fully negotiated offer. Price is only one variable on the table and therefore, needs to be negotiated in the context of other important commercial terms”.
  • The Last Minute Chipper: When your counterparty starts demanding 20% off at the last minute, respond initially by saying, “it looks as though your budget has been cut by 20%. So, let’s see what we can do to reduce the scope to reflect that.” If they continue to push, you could then say: “It looks like you’re trying to chip me at the last minute. Let’s just take a step back and look at the ROI and remember what it is that we’re both trying to achieve here.” Watch this quick video on the Last-Minute Chipper scenario

There are many other ways to deal with these aggressive negotiation tactics. Hopefully, these illustrations start to show you how to get things back on track.

How can you prepare in advance to counteract these aggressive negotiation tactics?

In our extensive experience as buyers, negotiation trainers and negotiation deal coaches, the critical thing you need is a rigorous, easy to follow, step-by-step process and templates. This will help you stay focused, reduce anxiety and emotions, and ultimately get you a better deal.

  1. Start with writing down the context of the deal. Include the goals (yours and theirs) and the objective criteria by which you propose that a negotiated deal can be agreed upon. Also, now is the time to prepare your BATNA
  2. Work out the stages of this negotiation and ideal timelines.
  3. Decide on your negotiation variables and your acceptable upper and lower limits.
  4. Make sure you keep track of issues as they come up and how you’re going to resolve them.

Start with the tangible value that you’ll be creating, then compare that to the price and hence the ROI. Prepare your negotiation strategy using a process, templates and checklists. They will have prepared their negotiation strategy, you must do the same.

This is exactly why we wrote the Higgle Book; it’s a step-by-step guide of proven negotiation templates that will help you prepare for every deal, no matter how big or small. 

Negotiation workbook

In conclusion…

There are two big lessons to be learnt:

  1. You have to spot the aggressive negotiator at their game and point it out to them, professionally. Confronting the behaviour can be tough, but you can choose to be subtle. If you don’t want to call it out upfront, you could simply ask them to repeat themselves — because you surely can’t have heard them correctly.
  2. “The prepared mind wins the day”. Consistent application of a step-by-step process and templates will prepare your mind for a successful, more rational negotiation.

Alternatively, you could decide to act more like Logan Roy, but we wouldn’t recommend it!

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