Starting Negotiations

31.08.2017 |

Episode #2 of the course Negotiation skills by Chris Croft


Welcome back!

Yesterday, we covered preparing your walkaway point and your opening offer. However, when you start a negotiation, you don’t want to walk right in and put your opening offer on the table, e.g. “Right, I’ll give you $4,000 for the car, and that’s it!”

This would be the wrong thing to do—wrong because maybe if you’d asked them for a number first, they would have offered you the car for $3,000!

So, a big rule of negotiation is: Don’t open first.

Of course, if the other person has been trained (most people haven’t), then it can become a bit of a tennis match as you both say, “After you,” “No, after you,” but I find that if you persist a little, the other person nearly always cracks. You just have to say, “I really don’t know what it’s worth, what do you think?” or, “Well, quote me a rough figure at least,” and they will usually come up with a number first.

Even if you’re selling, you can often get customers to tell you what they are planning to spend—you can use a line like, “If you give me a rough idea of your budget, then I can design something that’ll be right for you.” And maybe their budget will be much higher than you were expecting!

So, prepare your opening offer, but hold it back during this 1st phase.


What to Say Instead of an Opening Offer

So, what DO you do to make conversation? The main thing is to ask lots of questions and listen. Remember that whenever you are talking, you are giving information away. Never say, “We’ve looked at loads of houses, and this is the only one we like,” or, “We’re moving down from London, and the houses seem very cheap around here,” or, “We’re in a bit of a hurry because the baby is due any moment.” Avoid talking by asking THEM the questions: Why are they moving? Where are they moving to? Have they had much interest in the house? etc.



The other thing you need to think about during this opening chat phase is the other person’s weaknesses. Ideally, you’ll have prepared their possible weaknesses beforehand. If you’re buying, maybe they are desperate to sell the house—why might that be? If you’re selling, maybe they are desperate to buy your house—why might that be?

The best thing about preparing the weaknesses of the other person is that it takes the focus off your OWN weaknesses. Normally, we are only too well aware of our own weaknesses—“I really need to sell this imperfect house,” “I really want to buy this perfect house”—and this makes us get a worse deal. It’s much better to focus on the weaknesses of the other person. If I go to sell a training course to a huge potential customer, I could easily feel weak. I WANT that customer, so I tell myself, “I bet they are in a hurry to get the training sorted. I bet they can’t find anyone else. I bet they have a big budget and can’t believe how cheap I am.” And I indeed feel much stronger!

What’s the negotiation that you have in mind? Are you buying or selling, and what might be the weaknesses of the person whom you will be negotiating against? Make a list now, and I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you 3 vital things you need to know about opening offers!

Bye for now!



Recommended book

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton


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