Week 44 – Say Your Panic Phrase – Chapter 11

How you do keep your cool in negotiations? How do you react in a poised manner? I admit that this is not always easy. But I do have a proven technique to give you: For tight situations, use your panic phrase!

Let me start with a less well-known anecdote regarding Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a former German Foreign Minister, which is said to have occured at the University of Cologne.

Genscher was at the lectern of the largest lecture hall, preparing for a preparation. A student came to him and shouted out loud, “Asshole!” The subsequent Foreign Minister stayed calm, smiled and said, “That’s cute, but my name is Genscher…” That’s what you call quick with, wouldn’t you agree?

Somehow it’s the same with price negotiations. Too many people are confronted with unpleasant statements. Seasoned buyers can be vary creative when it comes to putting a consultant or a salesperson off their stride. But entrepreneurs and executives are also known for using tricks.

I think Genscher thought of his quip beforehand. Perhaps he had already been confronted with a similar situation in the past. So what prevents you from coming up with your own comebacks for when buyers try out their tricks on you?

Techniques for Boosting Your Wit

Say Your Panic Phrase © Fotolia 2015 / studiostoks

Say Your Panic Phrase © Fotolia 2015 / studiostoks

Can you prepare to be quick-witted? Let’s take a costumer’s statement for this: “You don’t really believe I’m going to pay for shipping costs!”

It would be easy to react emotionally here. But what if you focused purely on the factual content? What you would hear could be something like, “The client does not wish to pay for shipping.” Which would simply mean, “The client doesn’t want it sent to him.” To which you could smile and answer, “Alright, then how else are you going to get your merchandise?”

Always approach the matter in the following way:

1. Write down a typical customer statement.

2. Focus on its factual content.

3. Interpret the statement in such a way that it is easily digestible.

4. Find a snappy answer to the easily digestible customer statement.

5. Learn it by heart, by visualizing the situation and speaking the words aloud.

It’s important that your reaction is delivered without thinking twice. It’s like driving a car in the winter: If it’s starts to snow and the car begins to slip, it’s probably not the right time to reconsider your options here. However if during the fall you’ve taken a safety course and practiced the right steering movements, you will increase your chances of doing the right thing in an emergency.

If You Draw a Blank, Press the Mental Panic Button

Before becoming an entrepreneur, when I was still a sales director, an employee asked me to go to an appointment that had been made with a purchasing director. The reason was that this purchasing director had been newly appointed. Everything had already been negotiated with this particular firm; there was a contract that still had a few years of term-time. Apart from greeting him, I would say nothing but, “What are we going to achieve today?” That was my panic phrase.

The place of negotiation felt about as big as a small bus stop. There were three buyers present, but no refreshments and hardly any space at the table for my documents. In a word: The perfect place for grilling a sales professional.

All of them three buyers threw everything they could think of at me, provoking and insulting me in the process. And me? I just kept repeating the phrase: “OK, what are we going to achieve today?” I did this, until the first one snapped and stormed out of the room. The buyers did their utmost to nail me. But my panic phrase helped me to keep my composure.

That’s why I strongly recommend that you get yourself a panic phrase, too. Memorize it; practice it privately – perhaps while driving alone. In this way, when you’re facing an onslaught of insults, you won’t fly into a rage, but react coolly.

Next week I will open a new chapter. We will have a view of the daily business from some more distance.

Best wishes,
Stephan Heinrich