Sales Negotiators Need To Know How To Wait

by drjim on May 27, 2011

Time Is Often On The Side Of The Buyer In A Negotiation

Time Is Often On The Side Of The Buyer In A Negotiation

When we start a sales negotiation, we have certain expectations about how it’s going to go. If we’re selling something, then we believe that the other side will state what they are interested in buying, we’ll have some discussions and we’ll eventually provide them with a proposal. We then expect them to react to the proposal and that’s when the real negotiating starts. However, what happens if they don’t react at all…?

The “Hurry Up And Wait” Tactic

As negotiating tactics go, the “hurry up and wait” tactic is actually pretty simple. The basic idea is that the side of the table that is doing the buying takes over control of the pace of the negotiations. Once they do that, they are now in the driver’s seat.

The selling side of the table has certain expectations in regards to what the next step in the negotiating process is and when that step will occur. When the seller takes control of the pace of the negotiations, they can change the tempo and this will cause distress for the seller.

A common way to employ the “hurry up and wait” tactic is to start the negotiations with an air of immediacy. Everything is rush, rush, rush. Discussions are held, requirements are gathered, and finally a proposal is made. Then nothing.

As the seller side of the table sits and waits for the next step in the process to occur (a response to their proposal), they will start to grow more anxious as nothing happens. The amount of time that is passing and the lack of feedback will serve to make them doubt that their proposal was a good proposal – especially if there are other sellers involved in the negotiations.

When the buyer side finally starts the negotiations up again, the seller side will be so grateful for any communications that they will be willing to make concessions in order to keep the negotiating process going.

This start-stop-start process can be used by the buyer side over and over again. As time stretches on, the seller side will become more and more disoriented and therefore more vulnerable to making poor concession decisions.

How To Counter The “Hurry Up And Wait Tactic”

The “hurry up and wait” tactic is a powerful negotiating tactic that puts much of the power during a negotiation into the hands of the buying side of the table. It is difficult to counter, but there are steps that you can take.

The most important step that you can take is to realize what is going on. Once you recognize that the “hurry up and wait” tactic is being used on you, you’ll be better situated to respond to it. Your first step should be to notify the rest of your company about what is going on – this will remove much of the pressure that they would otherwise place on you to wrap the negotiations up quickly.

Your next step is to search for ways to negate the use of the “hurry up and wait” tactic. What you need to find is a motivation for the other side to move faster. If the item that is being negotiated is in limited supply or if there are potential delivery issues, you have the option of informing the other side of this. They are more than welcome to take as much time as they want; however, let them know that what they are negotiating for may not be available if they delay for too long!

What All Of This Means For You

During a sales negotiation, there are expectations as to what the pace of the negotiation will be. The buyer controls the pace to a great extent and if they decide to do so they can use the “hurry up and wait” tactic.

By alternating the pace of the negotiations from fast to slow to fast again, the buyer can wear the seller out and induce anxiety. This can cause the seller to start to doubt their price and therefore end up lowering it just to stay in the game.

Sellers need to keep their eyes open in order to detect when this tactic is being used. There is no clear-cut defense against it; however, being aware that it’s being used is a good start. Sales negotiators who can detect when the “hurry up and wait” tactic is being used will be better prepared to roll with it and still end up getting a good deal.

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

Question For You: When do you think that you say enough is enough and walk away from a negotiation where the “hurry up and wait” tactic is being used?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Talk about running into a brick wall! Sometimes when we are in the middle of a negotiation, especially with a state or federal official, we come face to face with a regulation that prevents us from getting what we want. Is it time to give up? Nope, you just need to know the magic 6 words that you need to say…

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