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Selling vs. Negotiating


It is often thought that negotiation forms part of every sale, but the fact is, if you sell well, you won’t need to negotiate. If we can heighten the buyers ‘desire to buy’ this will reduce his/her ‘requirements to negotiate’


Selling is described as matching the benefits of your product or service to the needs of your customer, putting them together in a reasoned argument”. Whereas, negotiation is

“the act or process of bargaining to reach a mutually acceptable agreement or objective”


So, when do we sell and when do we need to negotiate? (Remember, selling well will mean there is less and sometimes no negotiation at all!) It is important to know the difference, whether you are presenting face to face to your customer or virtually. The principles are the same whichever medium you use:

When to Sell:

  • If the customer expresses a need – sell, by addressing and meeting those needs.
  • If the customer expresses objections – sell, by correcting any misunderstandings, managing any limitations that outweigh the objection
  • If the customer expresses interest – sell, by closing the sale and taking the order.
  • If the customer accepts the best proposal option – sell, by closing the deal
  • If the customer accepts the second fall back proposal – sell, by closing the sale.

When to Negotiate

  • If the customer rejects the deal and makes demands – negotiate, by buying time if needed; analyse the proposal from the perspective of the customer, competition and priorities; analyse the proposal based on your objective, the negotiable points and non-negotiable points.
  • If the customer considers your proposal – negotiate, by presenting the best two options given the customer choice and correctly position your offering from a value and functional perspective.
  • If the customer rejects the best proposal – negotiate, by having a contingency proposal offer.
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Know the Difference

It is important, that your sales teams know the difference between selling and negotiating, as both are called for in different situations (whether presenting to a customer face to face or virtually). More importantly, ensure you are providing the training and skills to enable them to execute both effectively. However, we advise, before booking the team on a negotiation skills course, ensure they know and can apply the fundamentals of selling and the core skills required. When they have mastered these competencies, you can build on these selling skill foundations in negotiation skills training.


If you want to find out more about our selling and negotiation courses, check out our programme pages: SELLING or NEGOTIATION.

We provide a range of programmes for those new to sales and for the more experienced. Or contact us at where we would be happy to answer any questions you have