The Worst Negotiation Strategy Ever

June 18, 2018

Many years ago, I was in Mexico with my then new wife. Along with other Americans we visited a local craft market where the craftsmen were selling their wares. These were hand made items and many of them exquisitely designed. Some of our party made a point to disparage the work of these men with the goal of setting a lower price. It was clear from the look in the men’s eyes that they were insulted and did not want to deal with these people. My wife took a different approach. When she found an item she liked, she picked it up. Admiring it she discussed the beauty of the work. The craftsman’s eyes light up with delight. Then she explained that she was on a tight budget and while the item was worth every penny he was asking she could only pay so much. Not offended at all the craftsmen accepted her offer with a smile. 

This was not a conscious negotiation strategy on her behalf. But intuitively she knew the right way to approach these men. If you are looking to buy something do not disparage the item to its owner. Whether it’s a business, home or some other item all you will succeed in doing is making them ill disposed to selling to you. 

I have worked as a business broker in Florida for over ten years. In that time, I have assisted in the sale of many businesses. The successful deals happen when buyer and seller build a rapport. The smart buyer does not insult or devalue the business in order to attain a lower price. Instead noting the good and bad he/she will make a fair offer and explain in a respectful way the logic of the offer. This does not guarantee a seller will accept the deal, but it will make it more likely that common ground can be found.

The worst negotiation strategy is to devalue whatever it is you are trying to buy. If you sit before a seller and run down the value of their property or product all you do is make them not want to sell to you at any price.

Being respectful does not mean you have to pay more than you want. On the contrary you will likely find that doing so will get you a better deal in the end.

Anthony John Rigney is a Jacksonville based business broker, Board-Certified Intermediary (BCI) and Accredited Business Intermediary (ABI). He is also the past President of the North Florida district of the Business Brokers of Florida (BBF) and a member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA). If you are interested in buying or selling a business – contact Anthony today at