Why Sales Negotiations Always Seem To Be A Failure Early On

It's always darkest just before the storm…
It’s always darkest just before the storm…

I often like to think of a sales negotiation as being very similar to a dance. The first few moves are very well known and are recognized by both sides. However, very quickly things can get out of control. Neither partner recognizes what the other partner is doing and toes start to get stepped on. Does it always have to go this way?

The Beginning Of Bargaining

Unfortunately I believe that the answer is “yes”. Ever sales negotiation seems to follow a fairly predictable course. We always seem to start out on the right footing – doesn’t every negotiation start with pleasant introductions?

It’s what happens after the introductions that the expert negotiators focus on the most. They realize that the next step is when the real bargaining starts.

Once upon a time I took a business course on “organizational behavior”. Although that was a long time ago, I can still remember the phases that people go through when you throw them together as a part of a team: forming, storming, conforming, and norming. After I took this course I can remember being amazed when I observed that in real life these really are the steps that teams go through.

The same can be said of sales negotiations – they too seem to follow a standard path

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along…?

Why does it have to be this way? Sales negotiations always seem to quickly descend into hostility and verbal sparing. For the sensitive negotiator this can quickly appear to be movement in the wrong direction.

We need to understand why this happens. One of the key reasons is that at the start of a negotiation both sides of the table are as far apart as they are ever going to be.

We all enter a negotiation with a starting position (what we want) that may appear to be unrealistic to the other side. This is going to make the other side think that the possibility of reaching an agreement with us may be out of the question.

We all react to this situation in the same way. We attack the other side’s position and force them to defend themselves. We force them and they force us to take different postures in order to justify where they are coming from.

What All Of This Means For You

Every sales negotiation has its ugly parts. Most often right after the negotiations start, things appear to head off into the wrong direction.

Experienced sales negotiators realize that this is a normal part of every negotiation. Since both sides start so far apart, conflict and disagreement are to be expected.

The key is to realize that this is only one part of a much larger negotiation. If you can make it through this part, then things will get better. Remember, things always seem the darkest just before the dawn…

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

Question For You: How can you tell the difference between a tough negotiation and a hopeless one?

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

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How many times has this happened to you: there you are, you’ve jumped into a sales negotiation and started off with your initial negotiating position. The other side did exactly the same thing. You are miles apart and it seems like there is no way that you are ever going to bridge the gap. What do you do now?