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When the Bargaining gets Tough…the Tough Do Better Bargaining

Negotiating in life and business became more enjoyable once I learned two things: first, that (cliche alert!) "win-win"– should always be the goal. Secondly, that knowing some proven negotiating skills takes much of the fear out of deal-making.

Truths about negotiating began dawning for me years ago during what became my all-time favorite business seminar, featuring Herb Cohen , author of the classic, "You can Negotiate Anything" . Herb was memorable for combining an entertaining, down-to-earth style with a solid resume and content. Herb connected the dots from being a hired negotiator on diplomatic issues — nuclear arms talks and the 1980 Iranian crisis — to conducting business deals.

For example , he cautions on facing the "Soviet Style" adversary, who makes ridiculous offers in hopes of gaining a "we win — you lose" deal. The best response to the soviet style is simply ignoring the offer/demand — and waiting out a realistic one, (if it ever comes), which puts pressure back on the party taking the extreme position. 

Herb is still around. Here are a couple more of his gems, from his recent article on a sales training website.

1. Caring, but not too much
Since no transaction matches the importance our human relationships, it’s helpful to maintain emotional distance from what transpires. You should certainly want to make the deal, but Herb advises not marrying yourself to it. Instead, fall in "like" with reaching the objective, but not in love with it. He says that treating deal-making as the game it actually is, makes us more effective doing it. To that point, it’s better to not represent yourself, where more tends to be at stake emotionally.

 2. Limit your authority

Similar not representing yourself in a serious transaction, it’s less effective negotiating when you’re the chief executive of the party being represented.  Herb says it enables you some needed time and space to say, “That sounds good to me but I’ll have to check with my board’.  (If you don’t have a Board of Directors, then substitute the word banker, attorney, CPA, adviser, boss or even spouse.)" Limiting the ability to say, "yes" on the spot enhances your deal-making.

Negotiating has been an interesting and even fun part of business and personal life. There’s the creativity in working out a good deal, the interesting thoughts and tactics the other side uses and satisfaction in seeing two sides come together, whether on new car, a conflict resolved or a business deal with a client.

About the Author

Jeff Marr

Jeff Marr

Marr provides thought leadership to Walker and the customer strategy profession. In keeping with the newest proven approaches, Marr designs services used in client engagements. This includes facilitating customer-driven action by clients at the corporate, functional and account team levels, and creating new measurement solutions. Formal approaches Jeff helped create and launch include value mapping, account engagement, strategic assessment, won/lost bid assessment, and assessing lost/diminished customers.

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