TUE NOV 21 2023

Leveraging Chris Voss’s Negotiation Techniques For Closing More Deals

by Bithika Bishesh

In the high-stakes world of B2B sales, mastering the art of negotiation is absolutely critical.

Chris Voss, the former FBI negotiator and author of "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It," gives us a deep dive into the subtle intricacies of effective negotiation. 

While it may sound far-fetched to incorporate hostage negotiation techniques into sales, the principles behind these techniques are potent and profoundly effective in the world of B2B sales. 

Let's dive into how B2B sales reps can integrate Voss’s principles to master the art of negotiation and close more deals successfully.

Ways to Effectively Incorporate Voss's Principles into Your Sales Strategies

1. Preparation: The Bedrock of Negotiation

According to Voss:

“Negotiation is a psychological investigation. When the pressure is on, you don’t rise to the occasion—you fall to your highest level of preparation. Good initial preparation for each negotiation yields at least a 7:1 rate of return on time saved renegotiating deals or clarifying implementation."

For B2B reps, this means going beyond product specs or service details. Understand your customers’ industry and the challenges they face, and be well-versed with your product or service. A well-prepared sales rep can confidently tackle objections, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

2. Mirroring: A Powerful Way to Build Rapport

Mirroring isn't just imitation; it's alignment. Whether it's mirroring body language, tone, or phrases, this technique ensures you're in sync with your client. 

Picture this: A prospective client says, "We're unsure about moving to the cloud due to security concerns." 

You respond, "Security concerns?" 

By echoing back, you urge them to elaborate, leading to deeper insights.

Top sellers using mirroring often find clients revealing more about budgets, timelines, or internal constraints—keys to tailor pitches.


3. Labeling: The Validation Powerplay

Labeling can transform the narrative. When a client remarks, "This integration process seems extensive," acknowledging it with, "It sounds like you're worried about a lengthy transition?" doesn't just validate their concern but shows understanding and attentiveness.

In practice:

By addressing worries, you position yourself as a solution provider, not just a vendor.

4. The Calibrated Questions Arsenal

Calibrated questions aren't just questions; they are keys to unlocking the treasure chest of information. By asking open-ended questions, sellers can guide the conversation, digging deeper into the buyer's motivations. 

For instance, the question, "What's the biggest challenge you face?" can reveal a lot about a company's pain points.

By understanding the broader organizational needs and concerns, you can tailor your solutions, ensuring smoother deal progression.


5. Tactical Empathy: The Subtle Powerhouse

Imagine you're selling cybersecurity solutions. The client expresses, "Last year, a minor breach cost us a significant contract." Responding with, "That must have been incredibly challenging," showcases tactical empathy.

When sellers truly understand pain points, their solutions appear less as upsells and more as necessities.

6. Anchoring

In the high-stakes realm of B2B sales, anchoring, when executed adeptly, can significantly steer negotiations in your favor. This tactic, anchoring, capitalizes on the human tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information.

If you begin your pricing discussion with a high value, even if the buyer negotiates down, you’re likely to settle at a favorable point.

Picture this: You're a seasoned B2B sales rep presenting a robust software solution to a potential high-value client. Here’s how you can master the anchoring technique based on Voss's insights:

  • Engage Emotions: Start with acknowledging their fears of possibly investing in a less-optimal solution. Make them envision the loss, preparing the ground for your proposition.
  • Wait and Listen: Resist the urge to throw the first number. Let your prospect anchor the pricing. They might surprise you with a figure higher than you anticipated.
  • Establish a Range: Mention a favorable range saying, “In the industry, solutions of this caliber are valued between $150,000 and $180,000.”
  • Diversify the Conversation: If the price becomes a sticking point, shift gears to non-monetary terms. Highlight complimentary training and support that accompanies your solution.
  • Use Precise Numbers: If you propose a price, say $137,425 instead of $140,000, indicating a well-calculated figure.
  • Gift a Surprise: Offer an unexpected additional service, showcasing the added value and making your proposal more appealing.

Adopt the Ackerman Model for a structured pricing negotiation strategy. Start with 65% of your target price, followed by calculated increments, ending with a non-rounded number along with a non-monetary bonus.

Anchoring in negotiations can shape perceptions. Aim high, ensuring that your proposal, pricing, and value proposition challenge your prospect to see the unparalleled value in your offering. 


7. Black Swans: Surfing the Unexpected

In a B2B sales scenario, a Black Swan event could occur if a sales rep discovers mid-negotiation that a competitor has drastically reduced their pricing, presenting a newfound challenge to close the deal. Chris Voss identifies three types of leverage: Positive (providing what your client wants), Negative (highlighting losses they might face), and Normative (aligning with their values) to navigate the unforeseen hurdle. 

With Positive Leverage, the rep can emphasize unique value propositions, like superior customer service or a proven ROI, that sets their solution apart despite the price difference. Through Negative Leverage, they could underline the potential drawbacks or limitations of the competitor's offer, like hidden costs or lack of certain crucial features. Lastly, by employing Normative Leverage, the rep could remind the prospect of their organization’s emphasis on quality and reliable partnerships, suggesting that a cheaper offer might not align with these values. By strategically leveraging these unexpected insights, the rep can steer the negotiation toward a successful deal closure.

Understanding the client’s constraints or gaps in knowledge can offer negotiation advantages and transform unpredictable events into leverage points.

8. Engage, Don’t Dominate

In successful B2B negotiations, interaction balance is key. When a buyer provides insights, asking questions like, "Could you elaborate on that?" can reveal vital information. Engagement metrics, such as turn-taking rates and buyer participation, are crucial.

However, mastering the power of "No" can significantly transform negotiations. Instead of pushing for a "Yes," sales reps should value a buyer's "No" as it reveals their actual concerns, whether they're about understanding, affordability, or needing more information. Rather than fearing "No," turn it into an opportunity: ask solution-based questions like, "What about this doesn’t work for you?" or "What would you need to make it work?" This approach can build trust and drive the negotiation forward.

There are three types of “Yes”: Counterfeit, Confirmation, and Commitment. In B2B sales, aim for the Commitment “yes”—a genuine agreement leading to action. But be cautious: all three can sound similar. To discern them, use tactics like the Rule of Three, getting the buyer to affirm thrice in one conversation. Another tactic is to probe using "How" questions, ensuring the buyer is equally responsible for the solution.

Pay attention to non-verbal cues, too. The 7-38-55 Percent Rule highlights that only 7% of a message is conveyed through words; the rest is through tone and body language. If they don’t align, use labeling to bring clarity.

Lastly, ensure your questions guide buyers towards offering a better solution. For instance, ask, "How am I supposed to do that?" This makes them consider your position and could lead to a favorable response.

Strategic negotiation, understanding the power of "No," and employing proven tactics can make the difference between an ordinary deal and a successful partnership.

Benefits of Leveraging Chriss Voss’s Principles in B2B Sales

From deepening client relationships to efficiently driving deals forward, Voss's strategies can reshape the art of sales negotiation. Here's a closer look at some of the advantages of applying Voss's techniques in a B2B setting.

  1. Enhanced Trust Building: Deepen connections with clients by understanding and validating their concerns.
  2. Increased Customer Satisfaction: Utilizing Voss's techniques creates a more personalized, understanding, and responsive sales experience. This, in turn, not only boosts the immediate sales interaction but also nurtures long-term customer relationships and loyalty.
  3. Higher Conversion Rates: Improved trust and understanding lead to a higher percentage of calls resulting in successful sales or desired outcomes.
  4. Effective Objection Handling: By employing Voss's approach, sales reps can skillfully unearth the root causes behind objections, enabling tailored responses that directly address client concerns.
  5. Negotiating More Win-Win Deals: Voss's strategies emphasize creating a collaborative environment wherein both parties feel valued and heard. This fosters a scenario conducive to crafting win-win deals, where solutions are tailored in a way that meets the needs and expectations of both the client and the sales entity, enhancing the chances of repeated business and referrals.


Chris Voss's principles offer a masterclass in human psychology, communication, and relationship-building. Rooted in high-stakes hostage negotiation scenarios, these principles delve deep into understanding and influencing human decision-making processes. 

For sales reps, this means going beyond the surface-level transactional interactions and genuinely connecting with prospects. 

Adopting Voss’s techniques equips sales professionals with tools that not only elevate their negotiation skills but also transform their interactions from mere sales pitches into powerful, persuasive dialogues. In an era where relationships drive sales more than ever, Voss's insights can turn average sales reps into negotiation maestros.

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