Often in negotiations you'll face a situation where the other side/party don't believe that an offer that you have made is beneficial for them. Maybe they think that the price is too high or it doesn't include something which they believe is important.

It can be tempting to reduce the price. But there is another way. This is to convince them of the benefits and positive aspects of both your offer and selecting the products or services from your company. To do this, you need to be subtle, connect with them on a personal level and show empathy for their position.

In this online exercise on negotiations, we will both look at and I will explain the purpose of subtle and persuasive phrases in English which a seller can use in a business negotiation to convince/persuade the buyer to select their offer/company.

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on business negotiation vocabulary


Exercise: Selling the positives in a negotiation

Read the following business negotiation between a seller and potential buyer for a contract to supply television components to a television manufacturer. The buyer is negotiating for a better price.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Seller:'So, we can offer you 40,000 components at a unit cost of $4.35 per unit.'

Buyer:'$4.35 per unit. Hmm.'

Seller:'You don't seem entirely pleased. Could I ask you what the issue is?'

Buyer:'We weren't expecting the price to be so high.'

Seller:'It's an extremely competitive price for the quality of the component that you'll be getting.'

Buyer:'As you are aware, we've had a number of different offers and in comparison with those, the price that you're offering us is a lot higher.'

Seller:'I can understand why you're looking around other companies for offers. I do the same. I recently concluded a negotiation for microcircuits. I visited so many different suppliers. It's a very time-consuming process. At times it feels like it'll never end.'

Buyer:'Yeah. I've been very busy with negotiating for this order for the last couple of weeks. This is the third meeting this week that I've had with a supplier about it. It's tiring.'

Seller:'I can appreciate how you feel.'

Buyer:'It's what we're paid for.'

Seller:'True. Let's have a break.'

5 minutes later

Seller:'Although you see the price is high, what I'd like you to consider is the quality of the product that you're obtaining. This component is not only the best built and most reliable on the market, it's also the most innovative and advanced. In fact, it won first prize at this year's Berlin TV component fair. So, what this gives you is the confidence that this component in two years time will still be at the cutting edge. Unfortunately, with some of the components on the market from other manufacturers, in six months they'll be obsolete.'

Buyer:'It's something that we have taken into consideration, but the price you're asking is very high.'

Seller:'Let's put the question of money to one side for the moment. You know that our company has one of the best reputations in the industry for not only the quality of the product and innovation, but also the quality control system in our factories. We have the lowest rate of returns of any company in the sector. So you know what you're getting, a cutting edge quality product with a negligible risk of failure.'

Buyer:'The quality and innovation of the product is not in doubt. But the price is higher than we're willing to pay.'

Seller:'I understand that you see the price as a little high, and I'm sure that you've been offered less. But how much do you spend each year replacing faulty components? What would you say if we guaranteed each of the components not for the standard 3 years but for 5 years. Plus, if one of your televisions breaks down due to a failure of one of our components, we'll not only replace the component for free, but also cover your labour costs of repair.'

Buyer:'So, if I understand correctly, you offering a 5 year guarantee and you'll pay for all labour costs where one of your components has caused a television to break down?'

Seller:'Yes.'

Buyer:'Hmm.'

Seller:'Don't give me an answer straight away. Think about it and get back to me.'


Making a deal in negotiations exercise


Quiz: Negotiations phrases - Convincing people to buy

Below is a definition or description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A phrase that is used to try to change the focus of a conversation, is
         

Let's put the question of money to one side for the moment:
(phrase) This phrase can be used by both buyers and sellers. This is commonly used when you want to change the topic or focus of a conversation. It's like saying 'can we stop talking about the money', but a lot politer. It is a very formal and professional phrase. With the use of 'let's', it almost like you're asking the other person permission to do it. You can replace 'money' with many other things, e.g. 'responsibility', 'cost', 'blame', 'insurance' etc... In Spanish: "vamos a dejar la cuestión del dinero a un lado por el momento".

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Let's put the question of money to one side for the moment:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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2. A different way to say that you don't have a problem with them getting quotes/offers from other companies, is
         

I can understand why you're looking around:
(phrase) This phrase is used by the seller after the buyer informs them in a negotiation that they are in negotiations with other companies. Normally, the buyer uses this to try to get the seller to improve their offer. What 'I can understand why you're looking around' does is give the opposite reaction to what the buyer is expecting, i.e. 'the seller doesn't panic'. In Spanish: "puedo entender por lo qué busca".

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I can understand why you're looking around:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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3. A phrase that suggests that someone should think about an offer before replying, is
         

Don't give me an answer straight away:
(phrase) This phrase can be used by both buyers and sellers. This is used at the end of a session of negotiation. It should only be used when you feel that you have persuaded/convinced the other side/party to accept your offer and that by pushing them more, there is a risk that they'll say 'no'. It is generally followed by 'Think about it and get back to me'. In Spanish: "no me de una repuesta de inmediato".

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Don't give me an answer straight away:

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4. A phrase that highlights to the other party/side the positives benefits of your product or service, is
         

What this gives you:
(phrase) This is a phrase used by a seller to explain to a potential buyer what the positive benefits of their product or service are. This phrase normally follows a description of a part of a product or service, e.g. 'this car has the latest ABS braking system'. The phrase follows this description 'what this gives you'. And is then followed by an explanation of the benefits, e.g. 'is a better and safer driving experience'. In Spanish: "qué le ofrece a usted".

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What this gives you:

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5. A way to express that you appreciate how the price is too much for them, is
         

I understand that you see the price as a little high:
(phrase) This is a phrase used by a seller. It is used to calm a situation where a buyer is starting to get angry or emotional about the price. This phrase is used to show empathy for the buyer's situation. It is important when saying this to have a caring/compassionate tone of voice and body language. If you don't, it will seem insincere and make the other person angrier. In Spanish: "puedo entender que vea el precio un poco alto".

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I understand that you see the price as a little high:

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6. A way to say that something takes a long time, is
         

Time-consuming process:
(phrase) This basically means that something takes both a lot of and a long time. In the context of this exercise it is used by the seller to show empathy with the buyer about the amount of work the buyer has to do. In Spanish: "este proceso requere mucho tiempo".

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Time-consuming process:

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7. A phrase that is used to introduce a new offer/concession, is
         

What would you say if:
(phrase) This phrase can be used by both buyers and sellers. It is used to introduce a concession to a previous offer you have made, e.g. 'what would you say if we lowered the price to $200?' . It has the same meaning as 'what if we offered'. In both, it sounds like you're making the concession because of the actions or demands of the other side/party, although you may have intended to make this concession before negotiations even started. It's a very effective and persuasive phrase. In Spanish: "qué diría si".

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What would you say if:

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8. A way to say that you are looking at other companies for the contract, is
         

We've had a number of different offers:
(phrase) In most negotiations, this phrase is generally used by buyers. It is a polite way of threatening the seller to reduce their price or improve the terms and conditions. It suggests that if they don't, the buyer will offer the contract to another company. The buyer could be bluffing (lying), but normally they aren't. In Spanish: "hemos tenido algunas ofertas diferentes".

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We've had a number of different offers:

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9. A phrase used to empathize or connect with the other side/party on a subject/topic, is
         

I can appreciate how you feel:
(phrase) This phrase can be used by both buyers and sellers. It can be used in two ways. The first, is to calm a situation where the other side/party are starting to get angry or emotional. This phrase is used to show empathy for their situation. It is important when saying this to have a caring/compassionate tone of voice and body language. If you don't, it will seem insincere and make the other person angrier. The second, is very similar to the first, but it is used to connect on a personal level with the other side/party by showing that you empathize with them or share the same opinion/feeling, e.g. 'I can appreciate how you feel, being away on business when you have a young family is difficult'. In Spanish: "puedo apreciar cómo se siente".

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I can appreciate how you feel:

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10. A phrase that means that you can trust the product or service that you would obtain, is
         

So you know what you're getting:
(phrase) This phrase is used by sellers in negotiations. It is used in this context to mean that you can trust the quality of the product or service, e.g. 'We only use Argentina beef in our restaurant, so you know what you're getting'. It is often followed by stating what the special qualities of the product or service are, e.g. 'the best quality beef in the world'. In Spanish: "asi que sabe que va a obtener".

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So you know what you're getting:

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11. A polite way to say 'what's the problem?', is
         

Could I ask you what the issue is:
(phrase) This is often used by sellers. This is very polite and commonly used in negotiations. Asking questions in negotiations is very important. It helps you both find out more about the other side/party and information that can be used to improve your chances of reaching a deal or agreeing a contract. In Spanish: "podría preguntarle cuál es la problema".

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Could I ask you what the issue is:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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12. A polite way to say 'what I want you to think about', is
         

What I'd like you to consider:
(phrase) This is a phrase used by sellers. In this context it is used to introduce a description of the qualities and benefits that a product or service has. Good negotiators often focus here on the qualities and benefits which the company who will potentially buy regard/see as very important. In addition, they'll also focus on those qualities and benefits of their product or services which their competitors can't compete with them on, e.g. 'What I'd like you consider is the microprocessor this computer has. It's the fastest on the market and we're the only company of the market to use it'. It's also used as a subtle way of criticizing the products or services of the competition. In Spanish: "quisiéra que considerase".

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What I'd like you to consider:

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Practice

Now that you understand the new selling the positives in a negotiation vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new phrases.