The old saying goes: ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. But there is another possibility: ‘if it sounds to good to be true, then you haven’t done your homework’.
Catching out the best negotiators
Sometimes in negotiations, you will be caught off guard by an unanticipated comment, statement or offer. There is very little that is more disconcerting than an offer that is better than you were expecting. This is because even the best negotiators rarely prepare for this scenario.
The cautious response is to ask yourself: ‘where’s the catch?’ and proceed delicately. But there may be no catch; the offer may be genuine. So whatever you do, don’t risk giving offence by challenging the offer. Unfortunately, when we get caught out, we often respond in an unguarded manner.
What else could be going on?
If there is no catch, then there are two further possibilities:
- the offer is a fair one
- they know something you don’t and the value is higher than you thought
What should you do?
Obviously, the lesson from this example is to prepare for even this scenario. As Patrick Forsyth says in The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, ‘successful negotiators do their homework’.
But if you are unprepared, then you certainly don’t want to just jump on the offer. So, do what you would do with any offer: make a counter offer, by asking for a little more. What you do not want to do is quickly accept the offer and leave the other person wondering if they have over bid. If they do that, it can lead to buyer’s remorse – a sense of disappointment with the deal that they have struck, which can lead to them later reneging on the deal or not doing further business with you. Worse still, you don’t want to accept a great offer that you could have improved still further.
If you sense the offer is a fair one – just a little better than you had anticipated, then your counter offer can be a little higher. If, on the other hand, you think they know something more about the value than you do, either go considerably higher or, if you can, take a time out to do some more research.
So here’s the deal
There is no substitute for being prepared before you go into a negotiation: both in command of the facts, and mentally prepared to deal with the unexpected.
What are your tips for negotiating, from your own experiences. Let us and our readers know, by contributing your own comment.
The Negotiator’s Pocketbook
In The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, Patrick Forsyth sets out a seven step process for your negotiation preparation. This Pocketbook really is full of fabulous insights and tips.
The Handling Resistance Pocketbook
Okay, so we’ve not been talking about resistance but in the forthcoming Handling Resistance Pocketbook (due in the autumn), you’ll learn a great process, called ‘SCOPE the resistance’ to deal with the kind of surprise this blog talks about.