The goal of every sales negotiation is to reach a deal that is agreeable to both sides. The question is just how much time should you take in order to get there? The classic question that all sales negotiators are always trying to answer is if it is better to negotiate in short sessions with long breaks or in long sessions with short breaks?
The Power Of Long Negotiating Sessions
Not all sales negotiating sessions are created equal. If you had to, you could probably divide them up into two main buckets: those that get done quickly, and those that take much longer.
Life is full of many distractions. When we are working on a deal that has a lot of different moving parts, we tend to work on it for a bit, get distracted and do other things, and then return, try to remember where things were, and then start to work on it again.
Although this technique does work, and in fact it is a necessary way of handling many of the longer negotiating tasks that seem to come our way, it is not the right solution for the really big negotiations.
These are the deals where there has been a lot of posturing done by both sides prior to the start of negotiations. The working-on-a-deal-for-a-little-bit-every-so-often approach won’t work in this case. Instead, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and sit down with the other side of the table and see if it’s going to be possible to hash out a deal – no matter how long it takes.
The magic of long negotiating sessions is that the parties that are participating in it change as the session wears on. The gruff, impersonal exteriors that everyone displays to each other at the start of the session gradually start to crumble as the hours drag on. The human side of every participant starts to come out and it’s this side of the participants that will allow a deal to be reached.
Ultimately sales negotiations allow people to reach deals. When you put these people together for a long, focused period of time what happens is that more often than not they find a way to work together in order to make a deal happen.
The Dangers Of Long Negotiating Sessions
Although a long negotiating session can be a very powerful tool in getting two sides of deal to come together, it is not without it’s own set of risks. There is never any guarantee that the two sides are going to be able to reach a deal and a long negotiating session may just drive this point home!
Additionally, if both sides truly dislike each other before the negotiations start, then forcing them to be together for an extended period of time isn’t going to improve their opinion of each other. In fact, it’s probably going to confirm that they really don’t have a lot in common.
In order to prevent a long negotiating session from either yielding nothing or, even worse, blowing up on you, there are three conditions that must be met prior to starting one of these sessions:
- Both Sides Want A Deal: if even before a negotiating session starts, both sides are inclined to strike a deal, then a long negotiating session might be just what you need. Sitting negotiators down around a table and removing the outside influences that can distract people from reaching a deal can work wonders.
- No New Information: when a point in time has been reached where there is no new information to be discovered about what is to be negotiated, then a long negotiating session may be in order. When both sides have started to repeat themselves when talking about the potential deal, this is the time to finally sit down and see if a deal can be reached.
- Respect Exists: ultimately this is the most important condition that must be in place before serious negotiations can start. Both sides must respect each other and feel that the other side truly wants to reach a deal. If this condition is in place, then you are already half-way towards reaching a deal even before the negotiations start.
What All Of This Means For You
There is an almost magical quality to very long sales negotiating sessions. Under the right circumstances, two parties can enter the negotiations and then emerge at the other side with an agreement that nobody thought would be possible.
In order for this to happen there are several conditions that must be met before the negotiations start. These include a predisposition on both sides to reach an agreement, the lack of new information regarding the deal to be struck, and respect on both sides for each other.
There are no guarantees that a deal will be reached as a result of any sales negotiation. However, sales negotiators who ensure that the correct preconditions are met can use the very long negotiation format to improve their odds of successfully reaching a deal with the other side.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: What are the key signs that a very long negotiation is not going to result in a successful deal and should be stopped?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
All too often when we see negotiators in the movies, they are portrayed as slick, fast talking folks who always seem to effortlessly get their way. The first thing that we need to realize that this is the movies and so it in no way represents real life. The second thing that we need to realize is that when we see negotiators portrayed this way, we’re being taught the wrong lesson. For you see, in negotiations, speed kills…