Why Sales Negotiators Like Salami

by drjim on January 7, 2011

Doesn't Everyone Like Salami?

Doesn’t Everyone Like Salami?

Who doesn’t like packaged luncheon meat? Well, ok, maybe a lot of people don’t, but at least when I say the word “salami” everyone gets a mental image of what I’m talking about: one of those sausage looking things that you buy at the store and then proceed to slice off pieces as you make things like sandwiches. Why is this so important that every sales negotiator should have one of them on their desk at all times?

How To Eat A Salami

Careful – if you take my advice and purchase a salami and place it on your desk, very quickly you are going to discover that this thing needs to be kept refrigerated. Don’t do it!

Instead, let’s think about how you’d use a salami if you bought it from the store. I guess that it’s always possible that you could use the whole thing all at once. Outside of being once very solid meal that would probably stay with you for the better part of a month, it would be almost impossible for a normal human being to eat an entire salami in one setting.

So how do we normally do this? In pieces. We’ll buy the thing and stick it in the fridge. The next time we’re fixing lunch, we’ll cut a slice off. If we happen to be wandering through the kitchen and realize that we’re hungry, we’ll cut a slice off. If we’re fixing a salad for dinner and we’re looking for one more topping, we’ll cut a slice off. Before you know it, the salami is gone.

How To Negotiate Using A Salami

Why all this talk about deli meat? Simple, it turns out that the more that you know about how you go about eating a salami, the better a sales negotiator you’ll become.

The reason is that one of the oldest negotiating tactics in the book is called the “salami tactic”. Perhaps I should explain.

During a sales negotiation, you’d really like the other side to just give in to all of your demands at the start of the negotiation. However, this happening is as unlikely as you sitting down and eating a whole salami in a single setting.

Much more likely is the other side giving in to your requests one by one over time. Small concessions by the other side go almost unnoticed over time – almost like when you were snacking on that salami that was sitting in your fridge.

Smart sales negotiators understand how the salami is going to be eaten and they prepare for it. They don’t plan on getting everything that they want right off the bat. Instead, they prepare their arguments and tactics so that they can go after the salami that they want, piece by piece.

If a discussion about one issue isn’t going well, a sales negotiator will switch to another topic. If he or she is able to get that piece of the salami, then they may come back to the issue that couldn’t be resolved and say “look, we worked out that other issue, how about if we just resolve this one”. By doing this, they may very well get their hands on yet another piece of the salami.

Eventually, by the time that the negotiation is over, the negotiator will have ended up with a majority of the salami that they had originally set their eyes on. What may have seemed impossible at the start of the negotiations, turned out to be quite possible!

What All Of This Means For You

Although it might strike you as a bit odd to use a luncheon meat as an example of how best to conduct a sales negotiation, the salami is an important tool. Understanding how we eat one of these can show us the way to negotiating success.

Realizing that we can’t get all that we want right off the bat is important. The salami tactic shows us that if we can get pieces of what we want then over time we can end up getting most of what we were looking for.

A sales negotiator needs to have many tactics in their bag of tricks. The salami tactic is a classic that everyone needs to know how to use. Sorta makes you hungry, eh?

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

Question For You: Do you think that it’s possible to break what you are negotiating for up into too many pieces?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In order to be a successful sales negotiator you need to be able to walk away with the lowest prices when you engage in a negotiation. As you might suspect, the key is how you get there. Having multiple tactics that you can use is your ticket to success. The Krunch tactic is a classic tool that every sales negotiator needs to know how to use — and how to defend against.

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