How Negotiators Prepare To Handle The “Deal Killers”

by drjim on April 26, 2013

You never know when a deal killer is going to surface during a negotiation…

You never know when a deal killer is going to surface during a negotiation…
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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.

What Is A Deal Killer?

So just exactly what is a deal killer? A deal killer is a person who really does have your best interests at heart. However, they look at the world differently than you do. Specifically, they don’t care nearly as much as you do about reaching a deal with the other side of the table. Instead, what they are most concerned about is protecting either you or your company from entering into a bad deal.

A deal killer is generally a person who is in a position of some responsibility. Their opinion may affect your ability to complete the deal. At the very least, they are an important person in your life and you need to treat what they are telling you with respect.

What is a deal killer going to tell you? They’ll tell you to not trust the other side of the table. They’ll identify things that might go wrong with the deal and they’ll tell you to get a warrantee or get the other side to pay you upfront. These are all good ideas; however, you are going to find that the other side is not going to permit you to change the agreement in order to cover all of the potential issues that the deal killer will uncover.

What Does A Deal Killer Look Like?

Deal killers who might get involved in your next negotiation can come in many different forms. You need to be ready to handle them no matter what guise they show up in.

One of the more common forms for a deal killer is that of a lawyer. If you think about it, a lawyer’s training is all about looking for ways that things can go wrong. This makes them the ultimate deal killers. You need to treat a lawyer as an important part of the negotiation because they may be able to spot gaps in your deal that you couldn’t see. However, don’t let them kill your deal.

Deal killers often take the form of a member of your company’s pricing team. They may ask for one of two different things that could kill your deal: either higher prices or lower discounts. One of the big problems with pricing people is that they are often too far away from the real marketplace and so they no longer have a good feel for what is happening there every day.

Finally, the people in your company who are in charge of handling credit can be deal killers. Almost every deal needs to have some form of credit associated with it and if the credit team is not on board, then you may have trouble closing your deal. The credit team may tell you that the other side’s credit is not good enough to do a deal with them or they may want them to pay up quicker. You are going to have to work with them and get them to eventually agree to an imperfect deal.

What Does All Of This Mean For You

Just because both you and the other side of the table can start to see the end of your current negotiations does not mean that you are going to be able to get there. Instead, you need to understand that this is just about the time that a deal killer will probably show up.

This person is going to swoop in and take a look at the deal that is being put together. They may be a lawyer, a pricing expert or even a person in the company’s credit department. They are going to start to point out a whole series of reasons why you should not enter into this agreement. It’s going to be up to you to work with them and address as many of their issues as possible while still trying to find a way to close the deal.

As a negotiator you are going to have to understand that the world is full of deal killers. This means that you need to prepare for them to show up at the end of your next principled negotiation – they always do. Work with them and take what they say as valuable inputs. However, understand that there never is such a thing as a riskless deal and be sure to make the final decision about striking a deal with the other side of the table.

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

Question For You: Can you think of any way to get the deal killer involved earlier so they don’t cause the negotiation to stretch out?

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