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‘The Negotiators’ is a series of articles that bring to life the most common types of negotiator: what they are like, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as approaches that will help you negotiate with them. Designed to be practical tools, you may find value in referring to the set for a quick start in reading and handling those you encounter.

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The Salesman

Hitting sales targets gives The Salesman a buzz. Profit? Let someone else worry about that! The ultimate illustration of how sales and negotiation require some different skills and approaches. This character is the consummate relationship builder. They have something to sell and will tell you whatever you want to hear to close the deal. The Salesman is focused on the relationship, and how to monetize it, often using their creativity to release value through the deal.

Naturally they are prone to give away the farm. Focusing on the short-term deal to hit target also risks long term gains, which a great negotiator will consider. This character is warm, flexible and compliant in building the relationship, only to passive-aggressively react to any threat to closing by trying to over-wield power.

You’ll have to be focused on implementing the deal or ensuring someone on their side knows how to. The Salesman will be off to knock on the next door.

Favorite Film – Tin Cup

Favorite Book – How to Win Friends and Influence People

Favorite Food – Anything – it’s on expenses

How to work with them

Ask questions, and drill down to show that you are interested in what they are offering, exposing the under-prepared stories they are prone to tell without damaging their ego too much. It might open the door to negotiating something of substance.


Let them win. They need a lot of satisfaction to feed their hungry ego, so be their friend, make concessions hard to obtain so they can go back to base and tell elaborate stories of their heroism in winning your business. If in a long-term relationship, have them win ‘supplier of the year’ awards to focus them and their organization on the kudos, while you enjoy the profits.

And if The Salesman is on your team you might consider letting them work their magic in opening the door while then having a dealmaker take over to agree terms. The Salesman will love this as they can move on to their next prospect.

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