Never Lose Again: Become a Top Negotiator by Asking the Right Questions

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The Most Practical Book on Negotiating Ever Written

Negotiating is an art. It’s complicated. To become an exceptional negotiator traditionally requires years of experience in negotiations. But that doesn’t mean that most people can’t quickly and easily learn proven negotiating skill and techniques if someone shows them what to do. This book does exactly that.

Never Lose Again reveals a simple but remarkably effective set of fifty questions that anyone can immediately use to become far better negotiators. The fifty questions apply to all types of negotiation situations, from conflicts like buying a home or car to business transactions of all kinds. Each question has been designed to put you in the best position possible, helping you to avoid tricks, break deadlocks, discover conflict and dispute resolutions, and find hidden deals in all types of negotiations.

No other book on the market distills the key negotiation principles into such a simply, effective, and instantly usable form. By learning to use these questions, you can start thinking like expert negotiators and make better deals for yourself, your family, and your business.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A clear-eyed, no-nonsense approach to navigating negotiations. Babitsky and Mangraviti distill Machiavelli into a negotiation algorithm."

—Robert Burton, author of On Being Certain

“Steve Babitsky and Jim Mangraviti are two people I hope I never have to negotiate with. This book puts you in the driver's seat with them in your corner — exactly where the other guy doesn't want them.”

—Zac Bissonnette, author of Debt-Free U

“Steve Babitsky’s and Jim Mangraviti’s work offers a practical Rosetta stone for mutually beneficial negotiation.”

—Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, author of Medical Choices, Medical Chances

"Never Lose Again is a refreshing take on negotiation. By demonstrating how to ask key questions at the right time, Babitsky and Mangraviti can turn even the most reluctant negotiator into a confident winner! Highly recommended for novice negotiators and even more accomplished ones who want to gain an extra edge."

—Diane K. Danielson, founder, Downtown Women's Club

Library Journal
The premise here is that anyone can become a successful negotiator by using the right 50 questions. The negotiation skills were developed through a series of seminars for corporate clients and physicians run by the authors' company, SEAK, Inc. The authors group questions thematically, from information gathering to breaking a deadlock, and explain how asking the right one at the right time is the best way to control the negotiation process. Each chapter covers one question and provides the tactics and psychology behind it and how it helps steer the process. Babitsky and Mangraviti also provide the best way to answer these questions so as not to lose ground during negotiations. VERDICT With its strong business focus, this book will appeal to readers of the Robert Fisher and William Ury standard, Getting to Yes. Others will also find it easy to read and understand as the authors break down the complex tactics of negotiation. Recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312643485
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Babitsky is the president and founder of SEAK, Inc., a professional training, consulting, and education firm. He was a personal injury trial attorney for twenty years and is the former managing partner of the firm Kistin, Babitsky, Latimer & Beitman. He has developed and taught numerous courses on negotiating, is the coauthor of over twenty books, and serves as a professional negotiation consultant. He resides in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

James J. Mangraviti Jr. is a principal of SEAK, Inc. Prior to joining SEAK, Jim practiced law in Boston as a litigator. Jim’s first book was published in 1992, and since then he has coauthored more than twenty books for physicians, lawyers, and expert witnesses. He has personally trained thousands of professionals such as accountants, engineers, attorneys, psychologists, and physicians. He resides in North Reading, Massachusetts.

For more info, visit

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Read an Excerpt

Question #1




Information translates directly into negotiating power. The more information you have when negotiating, the better off you will be. “How did you hear about us?” is a superb, zero-risk question that should be used routinely by sellers in an attempt to gather information.

The idea behind “How did you hear about us?” is simply to get the potential buyer talking. The question itself is very open ended and encourages an open-ended response. The person you are negotiating with will often blurt out damaging information, including how you were recommended, their current situation, why they are desperate for a deal, etc.

“How did you hear about us?” has the big advantage of being risk free. It is completely polite. It’s innocent sounding and almost conversational. There is really no downside to asking this question as a matter of course. “How did you hear about us?” can and should be asked routinely by sellers of goods and services.

We have found that new potential clients almost always answer “How did you hear about us?” The reason for this is simple. The question is so innocent sounding and on its face so reasonable that the person you are negotiating with has no reason not to answer it. A sophisticated negotiator might be cagey when answering, but you are still very likely to get some sort of an answer.

Another important advantage of “How did you hear about us?” is that it allows sellers to track how various marketing campaigns are working. Let’s say your business placed an ad in a certain newspaper and you routinely ask people calling to inquire about your services, “How did you hear about us?” If several people respond that they saw your ad in that newspaper, you know the ad worked and you might consider repeating it at a later time. If nobody mentions the ad you might consider discontinuing it.

The benefit of “How did you hear about us?” can be greatly enhanced if you ask follow-up questions. Once the person you are negotiating with starts answering one question it is more likely that they will answer follow-up questions. The conversation is flowing in this direction and the person you are negotiating with has already shown that they are willing to answer questions.

Asking the right follow-up questions depends on carefully listening to the responses you receive. The goal of all of this is to get the person you are negotiating with talking in the hopes that they will reveal information about why they called you, their situation, timetables, problems, budgets, or anything else that can be used to your advantage. Let’s look at some examples.

*   *   *

Recently, we got a call from a person working at a federal governmental agency. He was interested in hiring us to train some of their employees. Here’s how the negotiation went:

LEAD: Hi, I am interested in your company doing some training for us.

AUTHOR: That’s great. How did you hear about us?

LEAD: One of our people here has been to your seminars and told us that your training is superb, that you are the best.

AUTHOR: What’s your time frame for the training?

LEAD: Well, here’s the thing. We have a lot of money we need to spend by October 1. So we’d like to move this along on the fast track.

AUTHOR: Well, we can certainly help you with your problem.

From the above example, you can see the potential phenomenal benefits of asking “How did you hear about us?” and innocuous follow-up questions. In response to “How did you hear about us?” we were able to learn the extremely valuable information that they already thought that we were the best. That is, they were already sold on us. The biggest and most valuable information score came on our follow-up question, “What’s your time frame for the training?” The response we received about their having a ton of money they needed to spend fast was exactly the type of priceless information we were fishing for. Once we heard this answer, we were able to negotiate quickly and agree upon the highest fee we had ever collected for training.

Here’s an additional example. Once again we were being contacted by an organization that was interested in hiring us to do some consulting/training.

LEAD: Hello, my group was interested in hiring you to do some consulting and training for us.

AUTHOR: Hi, nice to meet you. How did you hear about us?

LEAD: My boss is the president of the company. He’s been to one of your seminars and loved it. He told me to hire you.

AUTHOR: That’s very kind of him. Who’s your boss?

LEAD: John Smith.

This also turned out to be a very easy negotiation. By asking the simple question “How did you hear about us?” we were able to learn that the potential client was already sold on us. More important, were able to discover that the person we were negotiating with basically had zero alternatives. He was actually instructed by his boss to use us. Needless to say, after learning this information, we were able to easily negotiate a favorable rate.


Sellers should ask leads “How did you hear about us?” as a matter of course. This is a no-risk question that may result in valuable information being provided to you. The information often gained about the person you are negotiating with—motives, deadlines, budgets, intentions, etc.—can greatly enhance your negotiation position. This question can also help set up follow-up questions that can obtain additional useful information. “How did you hear about us?” has the additional important benefit of tracking the value of various marketing campaigns that you may have conducted.

How to Respond If You Are Asked

“How did you hear about us?”

An excellent way to respond to this question if it is used against you is to provide an answer that suggests you are aggressively shopping around for the best deal. Such an answer will boost your bargaining power since the seller will likely draw the conclusion that he will have to offer the best deal in order to win your business. Please consider the following example, which is typical of the response we would give if we were asked “How did you hear about us?” by someone we were considering buying something from.

PRINTER: How did you hear about us?

AUTHOR: I had my assistant come up with a list of thirty to forty printers who do this type of work so that we could aggressively compare cost and get the lowest possible price.


Copyright © 2011 by Steven Babitsky and James J. Mangraviti Jr

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