Is It Possible To Have A Sales Negotiation With A Friend?

by drjim on February 18, 2011

The Toughest Negotiations Can Be With Friends…

The Toughest Negotiations Can Be With Friends…

Sigh. So this is a very difficult subject to talk about. Generally when we talk about negotiating, we’re talking about sitting down and going at it with an unnamed and unknown “other side of the table”. When that other side is somebody that we already know, with whom we already have a relationship, things get very complicated, very quickly…

Why Negotiating With A Friend Is Difficult

Sales negotiations are never easy, and when you are dealing with someone that you already have a relationship with it becomes just that much harder to do. There are several reasons for this.

The first is, of course, simply that your existing relationship with this person can be harmed by the process of negotiating. During a negotiation, you are trying to maximize what you walk away with. However, by doing so you may end up offending or even angering your friend. If you didn’t know or care about the other side of the table, then this would be of little concern. However, if they are your friend first and negotiating opponent second, then you’ve got a potential problem on your hands.

The next reason is that unlike someone that you are meeting for the first time, your friend already knows you. In fact they know a lot about you. This means that a lot of the standard negotiating tactics that we use during a sales negotiation may not work on them because they already know how you think. If you walk away from the negotiation, they may be in a very good position to call your bluff because they know you so well.

How To Negotiate With A Friend

All of this leads back to the fundamental question: just how should we go about negotiating with our friends? Sadly, there isn’t one simple, complete answer to this question. Instead, we’re going to have to take several steps if we want to have any chance of conducting a successful negotiation while at the same time maintaining our relationship with our friend.

We need to understand that our relationship with the other side of the table is going to be adversely effected by a negotiation if the other side walks away feeling that they got a bad deal. This is what we need to spend our time working to prevent.

More often than not, the belief that you’re getting a bad deal is going to come from the feeling that you got ripped off – you were not able to get the full value for the good or service that you were trying to either sell or buy. This is what we need to prevent.

There are a lot of different ways to do this. One of the most effective is to take extra time doing research when you are negotiating with a friend. What you need to look into is what the fair market value for the item is. Once you know this, you are ready to negotiate.

During the negotiations you will need to present the results of your research. Before you start to discuss prices with your friend on the other side, you are going to need to get them to agree as to what the fair market value for the item being discussed is.

Once you’ve been able to reach agreement on this issue, then you’ll be well positioned to enter into pricing discussions with the other side. Once a final price has been agreed to, it won’t be your words that they’ll dwell on after the negotiation is over, but rather their understanding of the market for the product and how the final price relates to that.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiating with friends is never an easy task for any sales negotiator. The risk of damaging the relationship during the negotiation process is great.

You need to understand that this type of negotiation is different from any other sales negotiation because the other side of the table already knows you. This will make using your set of standard negotiating tactics much harder because they will be able to see though you.

Instead, you are going to need to do enough homework in order to determine a fair market value for the item being discussed. When the negotiation starts, you’ll have to get the other side to agree to this value. Once that is done, you can start to discuss pricing for your specific deal.

It is possible to both negotiate with a friend and to keep that person as a friend after the negotiations are over. In order to make this happen, you need to do your homework and reach agreement with them early on in the negotiations. Do this and you can have your negotiations and keep your friends too.

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

Question For You: If a deal isn’t going to happen, how can you keep a good relationship with your friend?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Isn’t the telephone a wonderful invention? I mean just sitting there at your desk you can pick it up (or flip open your mobile) and reach out and touch just about anyone in the world. It sure seems like this must the best way to do sales negotiations in the future – just imagine how much more you could get done! Hold on — the phrase “speed kills” comes to mind for a good reason – the phone may be the worst thing that has ever happened to sales negotiations…

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Clive Rich February 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Negotiating with friends is harder, because you always want to be liked by friends. When negotiating you may work for a win for both sides, but it doesn’t matter whether the other side likes you or not.

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Dr. Jim Anderson March 3, 2011 at 7:10 am

Clive: very good point. What makes negotiating with friends so difficult is that not only do we want to keep them as friends, but we also want to reach a good deal. Sadly, it’s not always possible to get both…

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