SMB Sales Training

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Posted by Brawlin Melgar

The Big Three

guest column by John Patrick Dolan, Attorney at Law, CSP CPAE

"Take it or leave it," "Let's just split it down the middle," and "The Wince" ... These are "The Big Three."

Most people learn what they know about the vital subject of negotiation by accident. You learn on the playgrounds of our childhood. You learn at school. You learn at home. You learn early in your career when someone really takes advantage of you.

Everyone encounters "The Big Three." Everyone knows how to use "The Big Three." Once you read this article you will know how to respond to "The Big Three."

"Take It Or Leave It"
We've all heard it. We've all used it.

What will you do the next time "Take it or leave it" is thrown at you?

Try silence first. Silence is one of the most powerful moves you can make in the game. The first person that speaks after "Take it or leave it" usually makes a concession. Try it and see.

"Why do you say that?" is another great response. Sometimes your counterpart will actually tell you why they just said "take it or leave it." Time constraints, frustration, lack of authority, may be what they really mean. All of these objections and many others can be neutralized once on the table. Just ask, "Why do you say that?"

"Let's Just Split It Down The Middle"
What do you immediately know when someone makes this offer? You know they are willing to make a concession if they can gain one in return.

But does your return concession have to be equal? Almost never! When someone asks to "Split it down the middle" say this... "I can't justify an even split... but split it once more and we have a deal." It works almost every time.

The Wince
Everybody knows this one..."Oh my God!" ... "Your prices are outrageous" ... "We never thought we would have to pay that much" ... "$250,000?" ... "Be home by 10:00 PM?" These are winces.

You make an offer ... positional in nature ... for money, for time, for anything measurable ... and your counterpart winces! What do you do?

      Silence - The first person to speak loses.
      Repeat - Restate your position in a non-belligerent fashion.
      Joke - Act like your counterpart thought the position was great instead of unacceptable.
      Escalate - Make your position more extreme.