Have you ever noticed how many times a sale or a negotiation comes down to the very last minute? Trust me: It happens a lot, but it doesn’t have to be a negative.
The pressure of the deadline can be overwhelming, and it can often lead you to accept a deal you otherwise wouldn’t be happy with. This article will show you how to overcome that pressure and use it to your advantage.
Yes, I know what you’re going to say: “How can I prepare for a conversation when I have only a little bit of time to close the deal?” Think of it this way: Spending even 15 minutes preparing can save you hours of negotiating. So, sure, you may delay the conversation a little bit but, over the long haul, you’re saving yourself time – and, more importantly, you’re entering the sale in a better position to succeed.
To aid your efforts when you’re under pressure, I recommend creating a checklist and referring to it as you go. See below for an example we often use, called our “P.A.I.D. checklist.”
Once you’ve worked your way through your checklist, you’re ready to engage.
The biggest problem we frequently see with negotiations is not knowing what the other party cares about (see “Interests” above). Assumptions are common: for instance, “I bet they want X price point,” or, “They need it by X day,” when, in fact, they may care more about something entirely different. Assumptions tend to increase when pressure is added to the situation. Avoid that and focus on probing for information you can use as leverage for your side.
See below for some common probing questions you can apply.
If you’ve probed successfully you should walk away feeling like you have a list of decision making factors you can refer to as you engage for the sale. If you’re still a bit unclear, then consider asking a few more questions.
When you feel up against the clock, it’s common to “accept” the “best deal” on the table versus “getting” the “best deal” on the table to fully maximize your win. Rely on the knowledge base you’ve established up to this point.
The first offer is critical as it sets the stage for the entire sales process. If you sense that both of you understand the landscape, then make the first move – anchoring the discussion and allowing you to move strategically ahead. If you feel your counterpart does not have a good sense of the landscape, then let them go first – because, at best, you have an offer better than you expected and, at worst, you know where they stand.
Once the first offer is on the table, rely on your negotiation training to move the conversation to a deal that is good for you. Avoid simple and lazy agreements of splitting it down the middle or accepting the first offer on the table. Don’t let the clock pressure you into a sale that doesn’t meet your goal.
Trust your instincts, follow your preparation, ask questions appropriately, and close like a winner.
Andres Lares is managing partner of Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI).