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When a Sales Discussion Gets Stuck in an Argument

The Situation

Michelle sells contracts for copy machines to all kinds of organizations. Today she is meeting with a vice principal, Emil, who is negotiating for his private school. He makes it clear that he is talking to a number of vendors.

The two are trying to discuss the school’s needs, which leads to talking about contract terms:

Emil: Now, I want to make it clear that we aren’t interested in the five-year contract you may want us to sign. Our financial situation makes it impossible to be locked in.
Michelle: Oh, that’s fine. We offer plans from one to five years.
Emil: And I see here that you have monthly minimums. Well, we’re a school, closed two months a year. We don’t want to be roped into paying for months when we aren’t here.
Michelle: Well, we have special terms for schools, which will take that into account.
Emil: I didn’t see that on your website or in these materials.
Michelle: I’m telling you now. We can work out custom terms for your contract.
Emil: I know you’d like to get that monthly minimum up there, but we aren’t a big company, making tons of copies.
Michelle: If you don’t have the figures, we can determine how many copies you make and come up with a plan that fits your school. It’s not a problem.
Emil: We may be small, but we’re not going to be pushed around —

Negotiating, or Just Arguing?

And so it goes, on and on. For whatever reason, Emil is combative at every turn. Should Michelle chalk this one up in the loss column and just move on? Or is there a Q4 collaborative technique for getting to a more productive discussion?

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