The Negotiator Magazine

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"You know, I feel like I'm doing a disservice to you. Obviously, what you need and rightfully deserve is a lot of attention on these details. I want you to have that, I really do. The restrictions that I have at this time, given the magnitude of some of the jobs that we're dealing with, pulls away the attention that we can give you in certain situations, and it's really not fair to you. So it's in everyone's best interest to let you know that there may be times when we may not be able to do it exactly the way you're looking for. If you feel that it is in your best interest for you to align yourself with a firm that could do it better, I would understand."

Understand, too, that being haunted by the "customer from down under" is usually a function of not qualifying the account properly in the beginning of the relationship not learning what's really driving a prospect's decisions. We're in such a rush to close business that we sometimes lose track of whether or not we can actually satisfy the customer after we get the order.


What typical influences are at work in the Decision-Maker's mind? There are usually three decision-making mindsets to consider:

Comparative. In this mode, the person is focusing in on technical details. They compare what you offer to what everyone else on the list offers, and they lean toward what they feel is the best overall package. People in the comparative mindset constantly ask two questions; "What makes you better than the competition?" and "Does what you're proposing fit in with the mandate I've been given by management?" (Note: Sometimes a comparative decision is made, not by one person, but by a group of people.)

Implementing. In this mode, the person is focusing in on the actual use of your products and services on a daily basis. The accent is on practical concerns, and on how what you have to offer will make the average day go more smoothly. This mindset is most likely to be in play when the contact is a potential user of your product or service. He or she will want to know: "How is this going to make my life easier and better?"

Outcome-oriented. This is typically (but not exclusively) a mindset of Decision-Makers. These folks will not sign on the dotted line unless they're convinced you'll help them deliver on commitments they've made to themselves or others to improve performance or results in a measurable way. People in this mindset focus in on the bottom line, budgets, value, and short- and long-term goals. They ask: "How is this going to move me closer to X?"

For all three mindsets, the suggestions you make must take into account the questions -- spoken or unspoken -- that the other person is asking. Depending on the size and structure of the organization, one person may represent all three mindsets -- or several people may operate from within a single mindset.

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May/June 2005