Just Exactly When Does A Negotiation Start?

by drjim on August 13, 2010

You Can't Win The Race If You Don't Know Where To Start

You Can’t Win The Race If You Don’t Know Where To Start

While working with one of my sales negotiations students the other day I was asked a great question that I don’t often hear. The student had reported that she was feeling frustrated because she was working on a number of deals and when it came time to negotiate, the actual negotiations seemed to drag on forever. “Isn’t there a better way?” she asked. Turns out that there is…

Start Before You Start

If you want a sales negotiation to go quickly, then you need do everything possible to make the actual negotiation just a formality – work everything out before you sit down at the table. Sound impossible? It’s not.

A negotiation actually starts long before the first negotiation session. Chester Karrass, the godfather of negotiating, believes that it really starts when you first make contact with the other side of the table. What this means is that yes, a negotiation can extend over a very long time; however, that doesn’t mean that the actual process of negotiating needs to be lengthy.

The Power Of The Before Time

All too often, what sales negotiators don’t realize is that every moment of contact with the other side of the table is vitally important. When you are interacting with the other party and the negotiations have not formally started, this is exactly when the most valuable information can be learned.

If you are the one doing the buying in a sales negotiation, then this is the time that you can observe the salesperson on the other side. You make casual inquiries into such critical items as how they price their products, who has already bought the product, how the salespersons year is going, where they rank in their organization, etc.

This pre-negotiation time is just as valuable if you are trying to sell something in a sales negotiation. You can determine if this is the right person that you should be talking with, how much they have to spend as well as who really controls the money.

The Gift Of Gab

One of the most important things that you can use the early encounter time to do is to create a relationship with the other side. Ultimately, during any sales negotiation there will be a certain amount of tension on both sides of the table.

If you’ve been able to use your pre-negotiation contact time to develop a relationship with the other side of the table, then you’ll be able to quickly diffuse any stressful situations that pop up.

What All Of This Means For You

Novice sales negotiators don’t realize that a sales negotiation really starts long before either side sits down at the negotiating table. The process of reaching a deal really starts when the first contact is made.

Using the informal interaction time to explore where the other side of the table is coming from is a great way to use this opportunity. Taking the time to build a relationship with the other side will also pay dividends later on in the process.

Smart sales negotiators use all of the time that they have to move closer to reaching a successful agreement. They know that the time before negotiations start is very valuable and if used correctly, then they can make the outcome of the negotiations a foregone conclusion…

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

Question For You: What do you think that your #1 goal should be when you first meet the other side?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the world of negotiating, we all love the idea of getting to win-win. Walking away from our next sales negotiation with the feeling that not only did we get a great deal, but that we left the other side feeling the same way is every negotiator’s dream. It turns out that if this is how you want to have things turn out, then you’ve got to do some planning before the negotiations start in order to make it happen…

Be Sociable, Share!

Previous post:

Next post: