“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

— Sun Tzu

In order to be an effective negotiator, sellers need to identify what type of buyer-negotiator they are dealing with. Some negotiators are cordial and pleasant. Others are abrasive and offensive. Although it is impossible to encapsulate all buyer-negotiators into one or two categories, placing buyers into a narrowed range of recognizable groups is extremely useful. Recognition of common negotiation tactics is easier when the tactics are labeled according to negotiator types. The purpose behind buyer-negotiator profiling is simple: If you can identify the negotiator type with whom you are working and understand his or her motives and techniques, you can effectively anticipate, prepare and position yourself to successfully negotiate.

On April 15, 1989, Donald Trump did an interview on Larry King Live. In their Interview, Larry asked Trump what gave him such an edge in his real estate negotiations, what made him such a powerhouse. Trump initially declined to answer. Larry persisted. Trump than asked Larry “Do you mind if I sit back a little bit, because your breath is very bad. It really is, has this ever been told to you?” Larry was stunned. Afterwards, his producers approached Trump demanding an explanation. Trump simply said he was demonstrating how he gets the edge in negotiations. He had demonstrated the power of a hard negotiator.

Spartan Sales Academy has identified Four Buyer types for Sales professionals to profile. Hard negotiators, calculating buyers, soft bargainers and casual shoppers. Certain buyer tactics are associated with each buyer type. For example, soft bargainers do not normally use the same tactics to secure discounts that hard negotiators use. Once a seller identifies the buyer type, it’s much easier to anticipate a predictable set of buyer tactics.

Hard negotiators are merciless “egotiators”. They leverage power aggressively and use adversarial tactics to manipulate, dominate and intimidate sellers. These are the Donald Trumps, the Al Capones of negotiation. They don’t care about your feelings, and they will attack any weakness you show zealously, if only to put you on the back foot and get a better deal. Relationships are the least of their concerns, all they want is to win and win totally.

Calculating buyers are professionals. They are shrewd, intelligent, professional, “get down to business” negotiators who leverage power firmly but fairly. These are buyers who are truly trying to find a fair deal, not just the best deal. They do not react well to “happy go lucky” seller types, and would prefer the hard facts, the bottom line.

Soft Bargainers are deceivingly easy to negotiate with. They are friendly buyers who are highly relationship driven, tend to share power, but are still focused on achieving ultimate price objectives. What makes them dangerous is how like-able they tend to be. When you feel that the relationship is great, the value built and the price agreed upon, they can leverage that relationship to drive for a better bargain, they will nibble. This catches many sales professionals off guard, who will concede in the hopes to salvage the relationship and their invested time.

Casual Shoppers are both an inexperienced and experienced sellers worst nightmare. These are the buyers who are casual, indifferent, unfocused, unpredictable and, most importantly, unqualified. They’re the window lookers who sometimes act like window lickers. They will waste your time, your energy and your mental fortitude, telling you everything you want to hear without being concrete. You’ll think you’re dealing with a soft bargainer until you realize, they aren’t the bargainer at all! Many casual shoppers are not even the decision maker! Don’t be sucked in by the casual shopper.

Professional sellers know how to profile what kind of buyer they’re dealing with and most importantly, what counter tactics are necessary to build, balance and maintain power with those buyers.