Sales Coach Christine Harrington
Decision making in Negotiation

Negotiation Secrets for Decision Making-Part 1

How to Negotiation Through Decision Making-Part 1

14 years ago, an in-depth research study revealed critical insight into how the mind makes decisions. Understanding this will help unlock clues on how you make decisions, but also how the buyer makes a decision to buy. Your life is a series of decisions, every moment of every day. So is the buyer’s life. That’s why it’s important to know how decisions are made.

The research I referenced was published in January 2006, by the Harvard Business Review which states in the Law of Science, the human mind cannot make a logical decision. It’s impossible. Every decision you make and the buyer makes is based on 100% emotion then validated by knowledge, experience, training, and practice.

Here’s the problem, 99% of the world doesn’t know or believe the science! Our education systems tell us decisions are made because of our essence, how smart we are. There are awards set up in the educational system based on how smart we are. Perhaps you’ve received one.

How many times have you heard the buyer say or anyone for that matter, “I want to make a logical decision.”

The truth is, it’s not possible to make a logical decision. Researchers have identified a whole series of such flaws in the way we think about making decisions.

Yet, we tell ourselves, we KNOW what will happen. We think we know what the buyer will say or do..but the fact is we don’t know at all and that’s the real problem in selling. It’s a psychological trap, making a judgment believing we’re smarter than the buyer.

So don’t fool yourself into thinking you or the buyer are making decisions based on logic.

Here’s an example.

Whether at a social gathering, family dinner, or party..bring up either religion or politics. Try and debate your position using logic. Within minutes, watch yourself and others discussing the subject turn into a heated and perhaps angry fever pitch defending their position. The "logical" discussion turns into a mess of emotions! 

Next at the same gathering, watch the person telling a story…. who is using words to paint a vision of experience. The storyteller will captivate the people listening by connecting with the area of the brain that stirs emotions, the part of the brain that makes decisions. And people are compelled to listen because their emotions are involved. This is how 100% of our decisions are made.

Appeal to the emotional area of the brain the buyer uses to make a buying decision, by painting a vision of your product or service. That’s just one negotiation secret for selling.

But beware…there are traps!

Trap #1 The Status Quo

I’m always skeptical when someone expresses they have no biases because they are not being honest with themself or others. Research shows we all have biases and those biases influence our choices. As a matter of fact, biases are so strong toward alternatives it generates the status quo decision.

Here’s an example: My guess is you have prospects who have long term business relationships with their current vendor. Even though the prospect has ongoing issues with the current vendor and your product is a better solution, the buyer will not leave the current vendor. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical. Right?

You’re right it’s not logical but emotional.

Enter, Stats Quo

The status quo decision is based on emotion. It represents not only a safer course but breaking the status quo means taking action. Taking action opens up the buyer to criticism and perhaps regret if the decision doesn’t work out. So the buyer doesn’t want the responsibility and instead protects his/her ego.

That’s why the buyer will respond with… “Maybe, I’ll rethink it later”, with later never arriving.

What can you do?

  • Remind the buyer of the objectives and walk through how to examine how they will be served by staying the Status Quo. Show the barriers of the status quo that block their goals.
  • Balance with the buyer other alternatives by using counterbalances and evaluating all the pluses and minuses.
  • Ask yourself, would you choose the status-quo alternative if in fact it weren’t the status quo and discuss this with the buyer.
  • Offer reassurance and a plan to the buyer that avoids disruption, effort, and cost by switching to your product/service. This will help the buyer not exaggerate the fear in his mind.
  • When comparing alternatives, always evaluate in terms of the future as well as the present, reminding the buyer that the desirability of keeping the status quo will change over time.
  • When presenting different alternatives, the buyer may have a hard time picking the best alternative which may cause him to default back to the status quo. Give him your best recommendation if you sense this happening while at the same time look for opportunities to anchor his decision by circling back to solving the issues.

And there are three more traps. Since this is such a broad and deep subject I’ll expand upon the other traps in upcoming articles.


This week, notice your decision-making process and examine when often you settle for the status quo decision. This will give you insight into how the buyer's decision-making process. 

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