Just when you are not expecting it, you can get tripped up in a negotiation

Just when you are not expecting it, you can get tripped up in a negotiation
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themeadester

We’ve all been there. We’ve been working on a negotiation with the other side for what now seems like forever. We’ve worked our way through issue after issue using all of our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques and we now believe that they’ve all been resolved to both side’s satisfaction. Both sides have been careful to keep all of the necessary parties informed on how the negotiations have been going and so we are now expecting smooth sailing from here on out. Everything gets typed up, both sides get their copy to sign. However, the other side pauses. All of a sudden they start to feel some remorse.

What’s Going On Here?

Wait a minute, didn’t we just spend an ungodly amount of time trying to come up with the deal that both of us now have in our hands? I’m going to go ahead and sign my copy, aren’t you going to do the same? It turns out that in a lot of cases the answer is “no”.

What can happen is that when the other side reads over the deal that has been put together, thoughts start to cross their mind. Things like “am I going to be paying too much?”, “should I have waited and tried to get better terms?”, “did the other side agree too quickly my proposal on some of the issues?” Now what’s going to be happening at the same time is that you’ll be looking over the deal. Questions are going to start to cross your mind also. What had looked like a great deal is now going to start to look not quite so great. You are going to start to ask yourself if perhaps you could have done better.

This kind of second guessing is something that happens a lot in negotiations. What this means for you is that you need to be ready for it to occur. You need to expect it. You need to plan for it. When it shows up, you should not be surprised. What we are going to want to do is to counter act this feeling and do everything that we can to get the deal approved by both sides.

What Can You Do To Save The Deal?

Although both sides of the table probably keep people in their organizations informed about the deal that was being negotiated, there is a more than likely chance that these people didn’t take a look at the deal until it showed up before them on paper. Now that they can see it is when they’ll start to speak up. When this happens, there are two things that you need to do. The first is to keep your level of aggravation down. It can be all too easy to blow your top when all of sudden people start to object to something that you’ve been working on for a long time. Secondly, you are going to want to work to find ways to keep this deal together. If you don’t take any action, then there is a real chance that things can start to fall apart.

Last minute hitches can come as a surprise. When this happens, we all start to get upset. When we get upset, our ability to successfully negotiate starts to decrease. What we need to do is to start to expect that in every negotiation, there will always be issues that show up at the end. If we expect them, then we won’t get so aggravated. What we need to do is to take steps to keep our deal from unraveling. This means that we need to be doing the following three things: remind the other side about the quality of the item being negotiated, tell the other side how satisfied past customers have been when they negotiated similar deals, reassure them that the item being negotiated is of high quality and comes with a solid warrantee.

It’s at this point in a negotiation that the deal killers always seem to decide to show up. That’s why you are going to have to take the time to tell the other side all of the reassuring things that you have probably already told them in the past. What you want to tell him or her is why the decisions that they’ve made were wise decisions. You want to provide the other side with the ammunition that they are going to need in order to be able to deal with the doubters in their organization. Note that you may end up using this information to deal with any doubters who pop up in your organization also!

What All Of This Means For You

So just exactly when is a principled negotiation over and done with? A lot of us would like to think that this happens when we’ve reached agreement with the other side on all of the issues and we’ve finally been able to get the entire deal documented on paper. However, it turns out that this is, sometimes, just the beginning. When the deal has been written down, this is when doubts can start to show up and the deal killers will emerge.

As a negotiator, this is when you are going to have to spring into action. It is going to be your job to save the deal. The other side is going to start to have doubts about the deal that they are preparing to sign and so you are going to have to reassure them that they are making the right decision. You need to equip them to deal with the deal killers that will emerge in their organization. At the same time you’ll have to deal with deal killers in your organization also.

Negotiations take a lot of time to put together. It would be a shame if once you had pulled a deal together, it fell apart because the other side had second thoughts. Instead, you need to anticipate that they’ll be having second thoughts and then you need to take steps to reassure the other side that they really are making the right decision. When you know that this will be happening, you can come prepared and make sure that your deals always get saved.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: When the other side starts to have doubts about a deal, should you bring in other people in order to reassure them?

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P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The goal of any negotiation is to be able to reach a deal with the other side of the table no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are used. In order to make this happen, you need to be able to agree to things and then you need to be able to deliver on what you have promised. Somewhat interestingly, the other side of the table has to be able to do exactly the same thing. How can you tell if they will be able to do this?

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When something is done in a negotiation, is it really done?

When something is done in a negotiation, is it really done?
Image Credit: Merriam-Webster

I don’t know about you, but from my point-of-view it can take a very long time to negotiate certain things. You create your negotiating negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, spend your time talking with the other side for days, weeks or even months and then when all is over and done with, with a little luck, you now have an agreement with the other side. Finally, we can now all go on to work on other things. Or can we?

Just Exactly What Happens After The Deal Is Done?

So just exactly what do you think will happen after you reach an agreement with the other side of the table? If you are like most of us, you assume that the other side will read the agreement and then start to live up to their side of it. In many cases this is what happens – that’s why we are willing to negotiate in the first place. However, there is really no guarantee that this is what is going to happen.

As negotiators we need to understand what might be running through the mind of the other side of the table. Sure, they wanted to reach an agreement with us as a result of entering into negotiations with us; however, that does not mean that they need to like the agreement that was reached. The reasons for this can be many and varied. They may have been under time pressure, they may have felt that they didn’t really have any other options, etc. They signed the deal, but they were not happy about doing so.

This now leaves them in a difficult position. What should they do? One option that they have, and the one that we hope that they select, is to live up to the terms of the deal that they’ve signed with us. They do have other options. One is to just walk away from the deal and do none of it. There may be penalties in the deal that cover this, but they may feel that the penalties are better for them than implementing the deal. These two options represent extremes. It turns out that the other side has yet another option available to them.

Say Hello To Fait Accompli

So it turns out that there is this thing called “fait accompli”. The definition of fait accompli is something that “… has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept.” It turns out that fait accompli is yet one more option that the other side of the table has available to them if they are not happy with the deal with you that they have agreed to.

So how would this work? It’s pretty simple. What we need to realize as negotiators is that once something is done, it is very, very hard to undo. This is exactly what fait accompli is all about – an accomplished fact. In the world of negotiating this is a tactic that buyers who have entered into an agreement with you will employ if they don’t like the terms of the deal that they signed.

Fait accompli looks like this: a signed check is very difficult to return, a signed contract is also very difficult to return. This is why a buyer will send you a check for US$1,200 when you were expecting a check for US$1,500. Perhaps you agreed to allow the buyer to take 5% off of their bill with you if they paid their bill in 15 days. They end up taking 30 days to pay their bill and then they still take the 5% off of the bill. Will you return the check to them? Probably not.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators, our job is to try find a set of agreements that will allow both sides to agree to a deal. All too often, we think that when we are able to reach this point in a principled negotiation, it’s all over. It’s time for us to move on to our next negotiation. However, that’s not the case. It turns out that how the other side chooses to implement the agreement is a critical part of the overall negotiation.

The other side may have agreed to the deal with you because they did not believe that they had other choices. Now that it has come time to execute the agreement, they have a number of options. They can live up to their agreements, they can not do what they agreed to do, or they can exhibit fait accompli. If they use fait accompli they’ll use the fact that it can be very difficult to return a check or a signed agreement. They will provide you with less than you were expecting and then hope that you’ll just accept it and move on.

Realizing that a negotiation is not over until both sides have lived up to their sides of the agreement is a fundamental understanding that every negotiator has to accept. The other side has a number of options when it comes to executing what they have agreed to. We need to keep our eyes open and determine if they are trying to exhibit fait accompli. If they are, then we’ve got to determine if we are going to be willing to live with this.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If the other side decides to perform a fait accompli on you, what is your best response?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we are negotiating with another party to sell them something, we need to be very careful how they are treating both us and the other vendors that they are talking with. The person who is buying the product is highly motivated to find a way to get the best possible price and to learn as much about what they’ll be buying as possible. One way that they may choose to go about doing this is to run what is called a “reverse auction”.

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