How To Win A Race When You’re Not The Fastest Runner

by drjim on October 20, 2009

You Can Still Win The Race Even When There Are Other Runners...

You Can Still Win The Race Even When There Are Other Runners…

Sales negotiators are often our own worst enemies. So much of what it takes to have a successful negotiation depends on your mental state going into the negotiation that if you don’t believe that you can close this deal, then I’ve got some bad news for you – you probably won’t.

One situation that my students seem to struggle with over and over again is the case where it’s them and a whole bunch of other companies all trying to get the same deal. The other companies appear to be prettier, smarter, and all around better: what chance do any of us have against them?

The Many Going After One Challenge

This is arguably the classic negotiating challenge. We see this all the time in real life when we want to buy a house that someone else also wants to buy or we want something on eBay that lots of other people want (and are willing to pay more to get). When the other side of the table is a single party and our side of the table is packed with us and our competitors, it can get to be a little bit disheartening.

The thing that I tell my students to remember is that things are never as they look. When you are in a highly competitive situation, it’s all too easy to look around and start to lose hope because you see how many other people want the same thing that you do: there can only be one winner. What you are missing here is that no matter how shiny they all look on the outside, the number of parties that you are actually competing against is really very small.

Why You Actually Have A Good Chance Of Winning The Deal

So here’s the deal. When you are going after a deal and there are a lot of other firms doing the same thing, you should not worry too much about them. The reason is that despite their numbers, the actual number of firms that you’ll be competing against is relatively small. Here’s why:

  • People at the other side of the table may not like a firm for some reason and so their offer won’t be considered.
  • A firm’s past history with the other side of the table (missed deliveries, poor quality, etc.) may make its offer be rejected.
  • Size of the firm: perhaps it’s too big for the job or maybe it’s too small to pull it off.
  • Product Features: many times a competitor’s solution may do more than yours, but the other side of the tale doesn’t value those features so their price will be too high.
  • No pricing: amazingly enough, sometimes a firm won’t be able to get through all of its internal hoops in time to be able to deliver a price.
  • Unknown firm: if the other side of the table doesn’t know a firm, that is have an existing relationship with them, then they may reject doing business with them.
  • Financial trouble: some competitors may be having money troubles that mean that nobody is going to risk doing business with them.

Final Thoughts

Having the confidence that you’ll be able to close a deal is critical to being a successful negotiator. Often it will be you against the world as you attempt to be the one that the other side of the table selects. In these cases it can be all too easy to lose heart, the other firms may look as though they are better positioned to win than you are.

However, you’ve got to realize that appearances can be deceiving. Many of the other firms will fall by the wayside for one or more reasons that may not be obvious to you. Once you realize this, you should become more confidant in your ability to strike a deal.

Having this knowledge will prevent you from automatically providing concessions to the other side during your negotiations. These concessions may not be needed because much of the competition will not truly be considered. Once you know this, you should be able to strike better deals and do it quicker.

What do you think is the best way to determine who your real competitors in a negotiation are?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Having a single supplier for something that you want is the best thing in the world. “What?” you say, they’ve got me over a barrel,  they can dictate any price or any conditions on a deal that they want because I have no other alternative

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