Don’t Cut to the Chase — Prepare for Your Negotiations

Beware the False Deadline

A small business owner with a huge potential opportunity in a negotiation with a large company contacted me recently and asked how to respond to the company’s request that he make them an offer.

He told me the company had a meeting scheduled for the next day and he felt like he needed to immediately respond.

My advice? Don’t feel pressured to respond prematurely based on their timeline and a perceived, but potentially false, deadline.

An hour later, after we had developed the first stages of a strategic negotiation plan, he left a message for his counterpart that the mutual opportunity was so significant he needed more time to do his due diligence regarding the options that might satisfy their long-term interests.

In the last few weeks he took advantage of the time he bought and fleshed out his strategic plan. Now, with a much better idea of what he wants, how to potentially structure a long-term deal, and what the market would justify, he is ready for that conversation.

And so is his counterpart, whose meeting that next day wasn’t really as critical as he thought.

The lesson? Beware of cutting to the chase and prematurely entering the negotiation’s offer-concession stage.

As I regularly tell my negotiation training program attendees and my consulting clients, there’s a reason “Design an Offer-Concession Strategy” is my Fourth Golden Rule of Negotiation. There are three major strategic elements to address before you get there (First Golden Rule: Information is Power – So Get It!, Second Golden Rule: Maximize Your Leverage, Third Golden Rule: Employ “Fair” Objective Criteria).

In short, do your strategic homework before you start throwing the offers back and forth.

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