Negotiation Tactic #3 – Asking a Closed-Ended Question

Summary: Using a restrictive question to get a direct answer or specific bit of information from a counterpart.

Anytime you are trying to win a concession or gain a deal point in a negotiation, Asking a Closed-Ended Question is a good idea. Closed-ended questions are effective because they are direct and to the point. In contrast, they are not good questions to ask when you are striving to build a relationship or stimulate discussion.


An employee in charge of office supplies asks a saleswoman, “If I can obtain budget approval to purchase two SMART Boards, which would normally incur a combined cost of $4,000, can you get the price with tax under $3,750?”


The saleswoman might ask why the $3,750 figure is so important to the company’s budget. A second effective counter would be for the saleswoman to inform the employee that she cannot get the two projectors under $3,750, but if the company does not need the height adjustable wallmount that comes standard at this figure, the $3,750 figure could be a possibility.

It is critical for the saleswoman to counter the $3,750 figure. If she concedes to the initial offer and sells the two SMART boards for under $3,750, her counterpart may walk away wondering if he should have offered only $3,500 instead of $3,750.

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

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