How To Close A Deal When You Have Already Tried Everything

Sometimes it can be very difficult to get to “closed”
Sometimes it can be very difficult to get to “closed”
Image Credit: Ian Britton

So just exactly how does a negotiation end? Either both parties give up and walk away with no deal being reached, or you are somehow able to use your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to find a way to close the deal. It’s this deal closing thing that can be so tricky to do sometimes. In fact, we can find ourselves in situations where we have tried to wrap things up, get the other side to agree to a deal, and we’ve failed. When we find ourselves in this kind of a situation, what is a negotiator to do? Give up? Nope, you need to go back in there and try to wrap this negotiation up. You just might have been doing it all wrong.

Why Can It Be So Hard To Close A Deal?

Before we jump into coming up with ways to close deals that just don’t want to be closed, let’s first take just a moment to understand why some deals are just so very difficult to bring to a close. One of the most obvious are the negotiations that just seem to keep going on. These negotiations can last for what seems to be a very long time: weeks, months, or in some cases, even years. The challenge for negotiators is that there never seems to be an end to the discussions in sight. Simply because the negotiations have dragged on for so long, people have been changed out and multiple resets in the negotiations have occurred.

Nobody really wants to start the process of closing a negotiation until they think that they have reached a point in the negotiation where they probably are not going to be able to get a better deal than is already on the table. The problem that a lot of us run into is that when we take a look at what is on the table in front of us, we are not convinced that this is the best offer that the other side is going to be able to make to us. What this means is that neither side is going to be willing to start the closing process for the negotiation and things are just going to keep going on and on.

Just in case all of this was not enough to make closing a negotiation a tough thing to do, there’s also the small problem of competition. Specifically, tough competition. When the other side of the table thinks that they may be able to do a deal with somebody besides you and get a better value, then they are not going to be motivated to close the deal that you are working on with them. They will be having discussions with your competition in parallel to their negotiations with you. The result with be negotiations that will never close until such time as the other side of the table determines that they can get the best deal from you.

The Best Ways To Close A Deal

If we want to be able to close our next negotiation quicker, then we need to start taking steps to make this happen even before the negotiation starts. What this means for you is that you need to sit down with the other side before the negotiation starts. Your goal is to create an explicit process that both sides will follow during the negotiations. You’ll want to cover what ground rules will be needed? Who is going to be facilitating the meeting? Most importantly, what issues are to be discussed and when will they be discussed? Once you’ve got this taken care of, you now need to determine what benchmarks and deadlines both sides should sign up for. You’ll also have to spell out what happens if a benchmark or deadline is not met.

Getting to a close is going to take effort on your part. One way to move things along would be to use a “shut down move” on the other side. What this type of move tries to do is to get the other side to stop taking with your competition. An example of this would be if you were to .ask the other side for a limited, exclusive negotiating period (such as one week) during which time they would agree not to entertain offers from your competitors. You’d have to offer them some sort of incentive that would motivate them to enter into this type of agreement with you. If this didn’t work, then you might consider taking a break. A break can last for a day, a week, or even a month. This allows all of the tension associated with the negotiation to be released and both sides get a chance to review what has been agreed to. A break can help you decide if going for a deal is still in your best interest.

When you find yourself in a situation where both parties are for some reason unwilling to put their best offers on the table, then you are going to need some outside help. This would be a good time to bring in a 3rd party that would be trusted by both sides. In private, both sides could reveal their best offers to the 3rd party. Once this was done, the 3rd party could report to both sides if there was a zone of possible agreement, or ZOPA. If not, it is probably time to move on. When you’ve gotten yourself stuck in a negotiation, it may be time for you to replace either yourself or all / part of your team. The new team won’t be limited by baggage that you’ve created as a part of your negotiations and they may be able to reach a deal with the other side more easily.

What All Of This Means For You

The goal of anyone who is involved in a principled negotiation is to find a way to close the negotiation and close the deal. However, sometimes despite our best efforts this can be very hard to do. The negotiations seem to go on and on and no end appears to be in sight. This is when we need to get creative as negotiators and find ways to close things up.

Why can it be so hard to close a negotiation? It turns out that there are a number of different reasons why a negotiation can be resistant to closing. In some cases negotiations can drag on for weeks, months, or even years with no clear way to wrap them up ever becoming visible. In some cases, one or both sides may be unwilling to present the other side with their best offer. It could also be due to the fact that you are facing tough competition and the other side is unwilling to close with you because they think that they may be able to get a better deal from them. In these situations you need to take control. You need to start by negotiating the process before things start. As you are doing this, be sure to include benchmarks and deadlines for both sides. You can always try a shut-down move to get rid of your competition and if that doesn’t work, you can try taking a break. If all of this fails, then consider bringing in a trusted 3rd party to help out or perhaps switching out some or all of your negotiating team.

We need to keep in mind that it’s never easy to close a negotiation. Take the time to use what we’ve discussed and you should be able to transform some of those negotiations that look like they’ll never close into deals that everyone can live with.

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

Question For You: At what point in time do you think a negotiation has gone on long enough and you should start trying to close it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If this was a perfect world, then every time that you went into a negotiation you would be facing someone who was doing this for the first time. They would be unsure of themselves and they would end up making all sorts of very basic mistakes. However, it’s not a perfect world and more often than not you are going to find yourself sitting across the table from a skilled negotiator who is wise to all of your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. When this happens, you are going to have to make sure that you have the defensive negotiation strategies that you’ll need in order to get the job done.