How Do You Close A Negotiation? One Nibble At A Time…

Nibbling can take the bite out of closing a negotiation
Nibbling can take the bite out of closing a negotiationImage Credit

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not over until it’s over”? The person who said this was clearly talking about a negotiation because experienced negotiators know that a negotiation is never over until they say that it’s over.

Welcome To The World Of Nibbling

After both sides of the table have reached an agreement on the last issue being negotiated and all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have been put away, it’s all over, right? Well no. Let’s say that at this point in time you’ve reached the neighborhood where your final deal lives. However, you’ve still not made it to the exact house that you want your deal to be living in.

What this means is that you are going to want to make some final adjustments to the deal that you now have on the table. How much better can you make that deal for you? It turns out that you have now entered a very special point in time: the other side can see that a final deal is within reach and so they are going to be more agreeable to anything that you propose now.

This is when you need to start to nibble. A nibble is when you ask the other side for something more. It might be to have them throw something extra into the deal. Maybe it’s to have them do something extra for you that they wouldn’t normally do. If you had just agreed to buy an expensive Christmas gift at a store, then you could nibble with them and get them to gift wrap it for free.

How Buyers Use Nibbling

Nibbling is an especially powerful technique for buyers. Since they are the ones who will be signing the deal and paying the money they feel that they are in a strong position to demand more from the other side of the table.

A buyer may end up nibbling to get a number of different things. The list can `included permission to pay bills late, cooperative marketing programs, getting products delivered earlier, or even getting higher quality products than they had been negotiating to get.

The lesson that buyers have learned over time is that nibbling works, They can improve the deal that has been agreed to during the negotiations by carefully nibbling once the negotiations are over with.

How Sellers Use Nibbling

Nibbling is not something that only buyers can use. Sellers can use nibbling to get a better deal from their buyers. The difference is that seller nibbling generally occurs after the deal has been completed and the paperwork has been signed.

Sellers have been known to provide their buyers will lower quality products than the contract called for. There may be extra services that were expected as a part of the deal that won’t be provided. This is in addition to the more traditional delivering late, sending the bill earlier than was expected, and tacking on unexpected charges.

If the buyer is not careful, all of these seller nibbles can result in the final cost to the buyer jumping up considerably. The buyer can put a stop to this type of nibbling; however, they have to notice that they are happening first.

What All Of This Means For You

The ultimate goal of any principled negotiation is to walk away from the table with the best deal possible. It turns out that once you’ve reached a deal with the other side, you may still not have the best deal possible – it’s time to do some nibbling.

What this means is that you should not be shy about asking for more from the other side if you are the buyer. Likewise, if you are the seller you will also be able to use the nibble to make this deal be better for you.

As a negotiator you need to start to expect that just because agreement has been reached on all of the open issues, the negotiating is not done. There is still a lot of nibbling that may occur. Be prepared and you can nibble your way to the best deal possible.

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

Question For You: Can you think of a negotiating situation where nibbling would not be appropriate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

During a negotiation there comes a time when you believe that you can see beyond the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques and start to see the end of the negotiation. Both sides of the table have been going back and forth for a while and it’s starting to look like you are going to be able to come to an agreement. A deal is at hand! This is about the time that the deal killer shows up and that just might make this deal never happen.