Negotiators know that the real challenge to a negotiation comes at the end. No matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques have been used during the negotiation, in the end it all comes down to the closing. Can you get the other side to agree to do a deal with you? As simple as this sounds, it often turns out to be a lot harder than any of us would like it to be. What we need are tips on how to make this critical event happen and (with a little luck) happen faster.
Take Time To Diagnose The Barrier
During a negotiation when you’ve made progress on certain issues while working on a deal, but remain stymied on others in a negotiation, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s standing between you and a mutually acceptable deal. If you think that perhaps strategic behavior on the part of the other side is causing an issue – particularly an unwillingness of one or both sides to make their best offer – then enlist a trusted, unbiased third-party for help. Negotiators can then disclose their respective bottom lines privately to the neutral, who will tell them if there’s an overlap. If there is, then the negotiators should be able to hammer out a deal quickly within the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA). If not, it may be wise for both sides to abandon talks and pursue other alternatives.
Psychological factors in deal making can prevent you from closing the deal, too. We need to be aware of the all-too-human tendency to reactively devalue what other people offer us. If that issue was truly important to them, they wouldn’t have made the concession we often tell ourselves. We need to avoid this trap in our own thinking and be careful not to trigger that reaction from others. Instead of trying to wrap things up by putting a reasonable number on the table, for instance, wait for the other side to make a specific request. When you do this, you may increase the perceived value of your concession – and the other side’s satisfaction.
There will be times that a tag-team approach is needed to reach closure. The first batch of negotiators may settle some important issues but run out of gas when it comes to others. A new team may bring a new perspective without the burden of personality problems developed by their predecessors. Changing your lineup may be especially useful if early negotiators have limited authority.
Make Use Of The Clock
We have often seen negotiations expand to fill the time available. None of us may like to make important decisions under the gun, but deadlines can provide a healthy incentive to closing the deal. Realize that it’s no accident that lawsuits settle on the courthouse steps and that strikes often are averted at the eleventh hour. Up until that point, the daily costs of protracted negotiation may not seem high although they mount over time.
Only when time is running out are people jolted out of the relative comfort of the status quo. If you can anticipate these moments, recognize your priorities, and keep channels of communication open, you’ll be able to move quickly and wisely when you have to. To avoid getting bogged down in never-ending talks, it pays to create a deadline at the outset of negotiation. It is also possible to put a fuse on the proposals you make, though exploding offers can backfire if the other party resents being put under artificial pressure.
Take Time To Count Your Change
Negotiators need to understand that even if they’ve done everything right, they have to be alert for gambits and tricks as the negotiation winds down. When you’re closing a deal, confirm that all the key provisions have been covered so there will be no surprises. Even after you’ve gotten a sincere handshake, the other side may come back with further demands if they are having a tough time selling the deal internally.
You should be leery about making any unreciprocated concessions. If the other side asks for new terms, even if you can afford them, you should get a favorable adjustment in return. Otherwise, you’re simply encouraging further requests.
Have Them Sign Here
Most important deals that we work on require a written contract. Whatever you’ve gained through negotiation will go down the drain if the understanding you reached is poorly reflected in formal documents. The technical side of executing an agreement is not glamorous, but it’s where many battles are won or lost. Even if you’re tired, resist the temptation to let the other side “write it all up.”
It’s a smarter move to have your own lawyers and specialists get the language right than to seek their help later in rewriting a draft that the other side has mangled. Since you have control over your own lawyers, you can tell them what risks you’re willing to take and where you need protection.
What All Of This Means For You
The one thing that every negotiator wants to get out of a deal is – a deal. In order to make this happen we need to understand how we can go about wrapping things up after all of the key issues have been decided. In order to ensure that we will be able to walk away with a deal that we can live with, we need to know the art of closing a deal.
More often than not, negotiations that we are involved in will eventually run into obstacles that will prevent us from closing the deal. When this happens there are a number of different things that we can do in order to get things moving along again. One powerful tool that is available to every negotiator is the clock. We need to understand how we can use this to motivate the other side to start to wrap things up. As you are wrapping things up, keep your eyes on the other side and make sure that they don’t use your eagerness to be done as an excuse to make changes. No deal is done until both sides have signed on to it. You need to be the one who comes up with the final paperwork.
Negotiating a deal is a lot of work. We need to make sure that the negotiations that we are involved in don’t drag on for too long. We have to master the art of closing a deal. If we can get good at doing this, then we’ll be able to quickly get the deals that we are looking for.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: When do you think that you can start to wrap up a negotiation?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Ah, ethics. We all know about them, we all know that no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques we are using, we should be ethical when we are negotiating, but do any of us really know what it means to be ethical during a negotiation. I mean, we enter a negotiation with one key objective in mind – get as much for our side as possible. Where does ethics come into play when we are thinking this way? When all is said and done, do you want to feel good about what you have been able to accomplish? If so, then you had better learn how to conduct an ethical negotiation.