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Get to “No”

by on September 4, 2013

Negotiation tactics and the power of “NO”

The  fastest way to get a deal done?  It’s not working to “yes”.  You  need to find out where the “no” is.

If it’s right up front, you’ve got your answer and you can walk away and pursue some other deal.

If it’s way on down the road, you’ve spent a lot of time and energy to end up where you could have been in the beginning.

This is a reverse way of thinking about deal making.  Yes, it’s about numbers: the faster to “no” the more deals you can look at and the quicker you’ll find your “yes”.

That works in sales and talking to investors when trying to raise money.  But it’s more than that because if it’s only a numbers game than you’re missing out on the power of “no”.

The Power of “NO”

We’ve all heard the advisers who say we should get to “yes”, find out where we agree and then we can move on, believing that if we start from “yes”, the “no’s” wont be as severe, firm, or determined.  That works sometimes but not most of the time.

Most of the time you want to test your limits.  You want to find where you can’t go.  Like when you were a child or if you have a child now.  As a child we learn by testing our limits.  The same thing applies in negotiations.

If you don’t know where you can’t go how do you know when you’ve reached the limit?  Did you leave money on the table?

We Want To Be Liked

Think about it, why didn’t you ask for that one point in the negotiations?  Were you afraid of being told “no”?  Why?  What could happen?  Would they walk away?  Probably not.  Would they be offended and think poorly of you?

Typically we’re afraid to ask for what we want because we don’t want to be told “no” to what we want.  And what we really want, when we feel that way, is something else, something that isn’t in the words of the request.  What we want is to be liked!  That’s typically why we don’t ask for what we want.

But in a negotiation, particularly when buying or selling a company, or negotiating a partnership, you need to find your limits.  If not you have not maximized your opportunity.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Once you know your limits you can decide if you can live within them.  If not, walk away and move on.  It’s not personal, it’s business.

If you can, move to the next issue and reserve the right to come back to any issue at any time because the deal isn’t done until it’s signed.  If you can’t agree on one item, if the limits are not agreeable, then you have the right to go back to any item and maybe get more.

“No” can lead to respect

The power of “no” is strong.  Don’t fail to use it because you want to be liked.  That doesn’t mean you have to be rude or insensitive.  In fact, you’re completely diluting the power of “no” if you act that way.  If you’re pleasant when you ask, if you frame the question or point to demonstrate you’ve been listening and understand your counterpart’s position, then even if you get a “no” you can still be liked.  In fact, you’re more likely to get a “yes” when you frame your position properly.  But the “no” won’t be personal.  The view of you will be that you’re professional and tenacious.  You’re more likely to get respect than ridicule, and respect is a powerful tool in negotiations.

One Comment
  1. Hi Mike, it’s a very important statement you are giving with this article. Especially in sales is saving a lot of time for the reps to be not miss leaded in the sales process.
    Rgds Maik

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