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October 21, 2016

Navigating Negotiation Stalemates

Business

Jeff Cochran

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Every businessperson has experienced a negotiations stalemate. Compromise has faltered, neither party is willing to budge, and there is nothing more to say. A successful negotiator knows the way out of a stalemate and how to seal the deal.

Stay Professional and Keep the Client

Before trying to get your opposition to budge, think hard about what you are willing to do to keep this client. Make sure you are being smart about considering compromise. What is the smallest concession you are willing to make? Is this concession worth keeping the client? Negotiation isn’t always about getting your way on everything, sometimes to get what you want, you have to know and help them get what they want.

Your tone should remain professional, no matter how heated the negotiations become. Be courteous. Avoid the “buts” – saying, “I understand your point, but …” just tells your opposition that you are rejecting their points. Shift the conversation to finding joint solutions. Ask them, “How can we make this work?” Build relationships is much more profitable in the long run than burning bridges in one deal.

Breaking the Barrier

You’ve made all the concessions you are willing to make. Now is the time to break through your opposition’s objections. The first step is to understand the other person’s stumbling block. Get this information by being honest about your sticking point. This invites them to tell you why they aren’t budging. You will be able to address their concerns from this information.

If you aren’t getting anywhere at the negotiating table, it may be time to shift focus. The key is to change the context of the conversation to something else for a while. Get the client out of the combative mindset by suggesting a break. This allows you to engage with the opposition in a social context and gives them a chance to get to know you on a personal level. You can also talk about future business opportunities your two organizations might share in the future. More important, it gets them out of the adversarial mindset.

Power Moves

Breaking up the negotiations when they have stalled may be your only option. If you have the upper hand at the time, you can suggest a cooling off period. This is a better move to make when you know your opponent wants the deal more than you do. The prospect that you are willing to walk away may be all that is necessary to get the other party to budge.

If you don’t have the advantage in negotiations, it is still possible to shake up the negotiations by buying some time. Telling the opposition that you would like a legal opinion is a card you can always play. Most business-people understand the need for legal advice. This keeps your negotiations open and buys both of you some cooling-down time.

Keep an Ace in the Hole

When all else fails, you should always have a trick up your sleeve. Before you go into negotiations, prepare something you can use to push stalled negotiations over the edge. Use alternatives. A deal, a discount, or a special offer can go a long way to closing the deal.

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