Your negotiation journey - part eight: don't fall (too quickly) for yes

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Constantin Papadopoulos is a freelance B2B marketing & sales consultant.

The following nine techniques/skills will improve the outcome of your negotiations. While these techniques are simple and effective, your negotiation success will come from applying them regularly. The best part of these techniques is that you can use them in your daily life. So let's review the eighth technique:

Don't fall (too quickly) for yes

Why does "yes" have such a bad reputation in the negotiation literature? Isn't a "yes" from the counterpart what we are striving for? Yes... but! And this "but" is exactly what is wrong with aiming for a "yes". A quick "yes" can be a very powerful tactic for your adversary to trap you in a non-profitable deal, under the motto "invite your enemy onto the roof, then remove the ladder". The enemy is urged on with the promise of a large benefit and easy success, only to discover that all is not as it seems. This benefit should seem very achievable, otherwise, it won't entice.

The challenge lies in identifying what the expressed "yes" stands for. In a transactional relationship, a rapid "yes" may be what you are aiming for. In this document, we are reviewing relationships that imply a repetitive collaboration or are long-lasting. It thus implies that bad behaviors at the negotiation table have a direct negative business impact.

So what do you need to do if you get a quick "yes"?

  • Ensure that all the potential deal-breakers have been tackled. Payment terms, delivery schedule, hidden costs, etc. Here are a couple of questions that will help you uncover conflicting positions:

Wouldn’t you mind to review the final steps to ensure that we get an agreement?

What are the elements of the deal that we have not mentioned that matter to you?

  • If the relationship needs to be formalized, ask kindly to finalize the agreement first prior to celebrating the deal, especially if it is important for you. Here a couple of questions you may use:

Wouldn’t you mind if my legal department sends you by tomorrow a first draft of what we discussed today?

How could we formalize this discussion to keep a trace of our successful negotiation?

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Here are a couple of questions, that can help you identify hidden expectations.

What are the elements related to our services that matter to you and that we have not discussed yet?

How do you measure your supplier satisfaction?

Note that Chriss Voss, classifies "yes" in three categories:

  • Counterfeit: used as an escape route or a way to receive information

  • Confirmation: validating a closed-ended question, a simple affirmation

  • Commitment: the "real" deal

The only "yes" that matters is the one revealing commitment. As highlighted above, if the "yes" comes quickly, it is not a bad sign. It requires simply to be vetted through the sieve of hidden interests, the required formalization, or unexpected requests. Testing early a "yes" may slow down the negotiation at first, but it will certainly reduce the number of bad surprises that come along with the pleasure of doing business. And now that you know all the tricks, let's close your negotiation journey with a simple bargaining methodology - The Ackerman technique.

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