4 Costly Sales Negotiation Mistakes, 1 Simple Tool

By Bradley Chowles February 12, 2020 | 4 min read

Hopefully, you’re not guilty of the negotiation mistakes mentioned in this blog. But, chances are good that you’ve probably committed a few of these errors before, if not regularly. It’s okay, you’re not alone. In fact, most sales professionals typically are unaware of their mistakes. For instance, if I were to ask you to share your best negotiation tips, you’d quickly start listing everything you think you do right and describe what you think everyone else does wrong. That’s the confidence and self-assurance that makes you a successful sales professional in the first place – but it’s also what makes it difficult for you to recognize your shortcomings and change for the better.

In order to help organizations better understand negotiation mistakes, RED BEAR Negotiation researchers interviewed over 600 sales professionals and asked them, “What negotiating mistakes do you see sales professionals make?” The answers were unsurprising. Let’s examine the four most common responses. Oh, and at the end, I’d like to introduce you to one simple tool you can use to negotiate better.

1. You’re not planning and executing a sound negotiation strategy

Whenever you stride into a negotiation thinking that you’ll just “wing it”, you’re all but guaranteed to fall far short of your actual potential. What’s worse is going in with a team and not identifying the lead negotiator. If you’re up against someone who has done their strategic planning and research, then there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with an unprofitable deal and your tail between your legs. In practice, you’re making this negotiation mistake whenever you fail to spend enough time preparing for a negotiation with a customer, such as developing questions to uncover needs over wants or when you fail to identify the full range of negotiables they might trade during the negotiation.

2. You aren’t uncovering the customer’s real needs

Being an effective sales negotiator is all about finding the other party’s genuine needs and motivations, and curating your pitch accordingly. But if you get ahead of yourself and try to solve their problem too quickly – or even worse, don’t listen to them at all and force-feed them with a one-size-fits-all highlights reel of your company’s success stories – then you shouldn’t be surprised when then respectfully decline and go with a more attentive competitor. Many salespeople make the negotiation mistake ofNego not asking enough questions, talking too much, and listening too little; and, as a result, find it difficult to build a strong customer relationship. An important part of your planning is developing an effective positioning statement.

3. You have a poor concession strategy

The single most damaging sales negotiation mistake is walking into the discussion without any kind of concession strategy. Even if you plan on “winging” it and relying on your gut instincts – which is itself a mistake, as we’ve already covered – you should still have a mental list of what you can concede and what kind of value you expect in return. Without a clear concession strategy, many salespeople give concessions without getting enough, or in some cases anything, in return. They also tend to give away too much too quickly and have low aspirations in what they ask from customers.

4. You’re not managing customer relationships

Another grave mistake made by sales professionals is failure to manage the customer relationship. If you are too rigid in your demands you run the risk of overpowering your customer and putting them on the defensive. If you struggle to say “no”, even to a customer’s unreasonable demands, then you’re setting a precedent that’ll continue to sting throughout the business relationship. It’s important to manage expectations from the very beginning of your discussion and leverage positive tension. By failing to do this, you’ll find it harder to build strong relationships and secure long-term business.


Don’t worry, RED BEAR can help. We’re experts at creating targeted negotiation strategies that can help today’s professionals across industries gain a consistent, tangible advantage. Download our Negotiation Planner and start planning for greater negotiation success. Our clients experience a 10X return on their negotiation performance with the RED BEAR’s Principles of Negotiation and using our negotiation tools.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to helping you and your team develop sharp and effective situational negotiation skills, click here.


One of the first steps to becoming a master negotiator is to learn 5 key negotiation behaviors and how they work within the 3D Negotiation Model to your benefit.
The main goal of using negotiation tactics by a customer is to fundamentally alter the negotiation in the customer’s favor. Negotiation tactics are tricky for a reason but can be handled with ease...

Subscribe for Exclusive News

Subscribe Here!

Follow Us