Negotiation Tactic #41 – If. . . Then

Summary: Making an offer that is contingent on specific conditions.

This tactic, which is similar to The Trial Balloon, is used to check out your counterpart’s acceptance of your proposal. This tactic is based on the idea that most people never give up anything without getting something in return.


You are an office supplies salesperson. A potential buyer asks you, “If I am willing to sign the purchase order today, then would you be willing to lower the price by a dollar per unit?”


Before accepting an If… Then offer, make sure that what you are agreeing to is in your long-term best interest. You may want to reverse the tactic, asking your counterpart, “If I do lower the price, then will you be willing to make each payment ‘net 10’?” Or you may want to buy more time to research the long-term value of the proposal, using the I’ll Think About It and Get Back to You Later tactic: “Before I agree to lower the price by that much, I need to think it over and do more financial projections. I will get back to you next week.”

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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