The Negotiator Magazine

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When Negotiations Stall, Position the Other Side for Easy Acceptance

Roger Dawson

When you're negotiating with people who have studied negotiating, and are proud of their ability to negotiate, you can get ridiculously close to agreement, and the entire negotiation will still fall apart on you. When it does, it's probably not the price or terms of the agreement that caused the problem, it's the ego of the other person as a negotiator. When that happens, Power Negotiators use a simple technique that positions the other person for easy acceptance.

Let's say that you market advertising specialties, such as rulers, with the company's name on it-or custom printed baseball caps and T-shirts. You have made an appointment to meet with the manager at a local appliance store. What you may not realize is that just before you showed up in his office, the manager said to the owner of the store, "You just watch me negotiate with this advertising specialty representative. I know what I'm doing, and I'll get us a good price."

Now he's not doing as well as he hoped in the negotiation and he may be reluctant to agree to your proposal because he doesn't want to feel that he lost to you as a negotiator. That can happen, even when the other person knows that your proposal is fair and it satisfies his needs in every way.

So, when this happens you must find a way to make the other person feel good about giving in to you. You must Position for Easy Acceptance. Power Negotiators know that the best way to do this is to make a small concession just at the last moment. The size of the concession can be ridiculously small, and you can still make it work because it's not the size of the concession that's critical, but the timing.

So, you might say, "We just can't budge another dime on the price, but I tell you what. If you'll go along with the price, I'll personally supervise the printing to be sure that it goes smoothly."

Perhaps you were planning to do that anyway, but the point is that you've been courteous enough to position the other person so that he can respond, "Well all right, if you'll do that for me, we'll go along with the price." Then he doesn't feel that he lost to you in the negotiation. He felt that he traded off.

Positioning for Easy Acceptance is another reason why you should never go in with your best offer up front. If you have offered all of your concessions already, before you get to the end of the negotiation, you won't have anything left with which to position the other side.

Here are some other small concessions that you can use to position:

1. You're selling a boat, so you offer to take the buyers out and show them how to sail it.

2. If you sell office equipment, offer to inventory their supplies and set them up on an automatic reordering system.

3. You're selling a car, so you offer to include the snow chains. Hold this price for 90 days in case they want to duplicate this order.

4. You're hiring someone and can't pay him or her what they asked, but you offer to review it after 90 days.

5. Offer forty-five day terms instead of 30 days.

6. Offer three years for the price of two on an extended service warranty.

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