How To Negotiate Large-quantity, Non-returnable Sales

how to negotiate

Corporate buyers do not want to buy your books — they want to use your content to solve a business problem. With that awareness, what preparation must you consider before you can reach a deal that satisfies all parties?

Have you ever tried to get a loan? Ask for a raise? Sought to get agreement with family members about where to go on vacation? In each case, you took part in a process designed to reach an accord that was agreeable to everyone involved. You can use those same skills to sell your books in large, non-returnable, profitable quantities to business buyers.

When trying to persuade people to your side, you probably planned on how you were going to do it. The larger the stakes, the more forethought you gave.

If your objective is to sell a case of books to a prospective buyer, there is little at stake and you will not spend much time developing a negotiating strategy. You can pivot with relative ease from one tactic to another, responding to your prospects’ moves. However, if you are sitting across from a person deciding whether to purchase 10,000 of your books — or none at all — the risks are higher and more preparation is necessary.

While each negotiation will have different twists and turns, there are some aspects that are fairly universal. Planning for those in advance can greatly enhance your probability of success. The key to successful preparation is an understanding of what leads to a win-win conclusion for both parties.

For example, your objective is to sell a large quantity of non-returnable books. Corporate buyers, however, do not want to buy your books. They want to use your content to solve a business problem. With that awareness, what preparation must you consider before you can reach a deal that satisfies all parties?

From your prospect’s perspective

What is your prospect’s objective? Introduce a new product? Improve sales of an existing product? Motivate employees? Determine what problems your prospect wants to solve, then show how your content can do it.

What worked (or did not work) for them in the past? Show how can you help them avoid past mistakes.

Why should they buy from you? Buyers need to feel comfortable that you can do what you say you can do, on time and at the agreed-upon price.

From your perspective

What is your ideal result, your best negotiated outcome (BNO)? Think of all the different options that may come up when you discuss terms for the sale. What is your position on each? Consider these examples of most-beneficial terms:

  • Short discount
  • No returns
  • Little customization
  • Long delivery time
  • Large quantity order
  • Opportunities for recurring revenue
  • Payment with order

What are you willing to negotiate away in return for a favorable outcome? If you must concede on one item to get something in return, which of the above criteria is least important to you? For example, customization may not be a major factor to you since you know it entails little marginal cost. But adding a logo to the cover may be critical for your prospect. Customization thereby becomes a quid pro quo negotiating point.

What are you not willing to sacrifice in return for a favorable outcome? There may be terms upon which you are not willing to concede. You may not have the financial reserves to print a large quantity of books if they are returnable. In this case, you might offer a greater discount or extended payment terms in exchange for a non-returnable sale.

What could undercut your BNO? Unanticipated discussions may surface during the negotiation. One of the participants may get a brainstorm and say, “What if we…?” Then the dialogue revolves around that unforeseen topic. It is impossible to know all these diversions in advance, but you can think about the general boundaries within which you will deal.

Can you remove or alter any constraint that makes your BNO unattainable? You could be blind-sided with a stipulation that you pay a penalty for late delivery. But if you know in advance that your printer can easily make the intended date, you can catch your prospect off guard and regain the momentum when you reply, “Actually, I’ll pay you a higher penalty for late delivery if you pay me a bonus for early delivery.”

The more you know beforehand about the people, the process, and your costs, the more likely you can discuss terms on the spot, resulting in the best negotiated outcome for both parties. Focus on your objective and keep your best interests in mind, but do not ignore the needs of your buyers.

The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS) is hosting its National Virtual Conference September 10–11

Discover how to sell to non-bookstore buyers with nine hours of book-marketing content delivered in easy-to-understand sessions. Top national speakers will help you discover how to sell your books in ways you never imagined and to people you never knew existed— in large, non-returnable quantities. The conference features national speakers focusing on critical book-marketing topics. You may attend one course or all of them – at no charge.

Click here for more information, an agenda, and to register.

APSS understands that today’s circumstances require extra effort to keep our members’ profitable. The APSS Take-Out Marketing Menu offers free home delivery of four monthly webinars to keep you motivated and informed. Plus, every Tuesday (3:30–4:30 pm ET) and Thursday (12 noon–1:00 pm) Brian Jud conducts a free consultation to answer your questions about APSS, special sales, and/or book marketing in general. Check the Executive Director’s blog at or contact for individual links which change monthly.

Click here to watch a 13-minute video about the benefits of APSS membership.

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