Negotiation Firestarter: The Take It Or Leave It Tactic

by drjim on January 8, 2009

Take It Or Leave It Is A Negotiating Tactic That Can Cause Hostility

Take It Or Leave It Is A Negotiating Tactic That Can Cause Hostility

If you really want to set off the other side of the table during a negotiation, one great way to do this is to tell them that they can “take it or leave it.” This is pretty much the verbal equivalent of throwing gas on a fire – you are guaranteed to generate hostility on the other side of the table when you use this phrase.

We react in exactly the same way if the other side tries this tactic on us during a negotiation. This is understandable; however, if we take just a moment to think about it, we should probably be used to dealing with this negotiating tactic.

The deals that are presented to you in the course of an average day are almost all of the “take it or leave” it nature. You see these types of deals in the insurance bills that you get, the groceries that you buy, and the parking ticket that you pay. Although they might not say it explicitly, these are all subtle forms of the “take it or leave it” tactic.

Before you decide to burst into flames the next time that someone uses this tactic on you, take a moment and give some thought to why the other side might be using this tactic. They have decided to only offer a fixed price and here are some of the reasons that they might be doing this:

  • They don’t want every one of their employees to have to have good negotiating skills or to take the time that a negotiation requires in order to successfully complete a deal.
  • They might be willing to negotiate with you on this deal; however, they don’t want to have to negotiate with you in the future.
  • If they negotiated with you and ended up lowering their price, then they would have to lower their price for all of their customers.
  • They know that you cannot afford to “leave it”.
  • They have already dealt with many other customers who had no problem paying their fixed price.
  • They can’t afford to lower their price any more because they are already selling at their rock bottom price.

When you look at it this way, you’ll realize that most business is normally done using the “take it or leave it” tactic no matter what we choose to call it. We need to realize that many prices are set because of existing laws or regulations.

If you find yourself in the position of having to use the “take it or leave it” tactic during a negotiation, then you need to search for ways to reduce the natural hostility that this is going to cause in the other side.

Here are the best methods for reducing hostility when you decide to offer only a “fixed price” to the other side:

  1. Show the laws / regulations that are causing you to have to offer the product at the stated price.
  2. Show the company policy that requires the product to be offered at the given price.
  3. Publish a price list.
  4. Publish a standard list of discounts.
  5. Display the price of your product / service where everyone can see it.
  6. Provide proof that shows all potential customers that the price that you are using is the same price that is being offered to everyone.
  7. Simply make sure that you provide a good justification for the price that you are using.

As always in any negotiation situation, the more discussions that can be held face-to-face the better the negotiations will go. Listen to what the other side has to say and make sure that everyone has a chance to save face and come out ahead.

Have you ever been confronted with a “take it or leave it” deal during a negotiation? How did you react to this? Have you ever had to present a “take it or leave it” proposal to the other side? How did they handle it? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Zan January 9, 2009 at 9:19 am

The “It’s my way or the highway” approach doesn’t work when managing employees either. It may have worked 20 years ago but the newer generation prefers collaboration and to have input. They will likely seek employment elsewhere when bullied into compliance.

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Dr. Jim Anderson January 11, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Zan: you know, you are correct but I don’t think that everyone has gotten the message! Take it or leave it is basically a short sighted response to becoming frustrated. I suspect that unless you really hold the upper hand, it’s still not going to work these days. One other point, even if it did work – just how do you think the other party is going to be feeling about doing business with you?

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Stephen July 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I think the point Zan misses here is that the “tactic” is used to generate an emotional response. Once you have an emotional reaction, you have a person in a potential buying situation. How you deal with the situation at that point will determine if you are able to sell them or not. People buy on emotion, not on logic.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Stephen: You are correct – emotion makes the sale. The trick is to use that emotion to move the other side of the table in direction that you want them to move – but be careful to not to dive them off a cliff!

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