Not Every Negotiation Is Meant To Be
Breaking up is hard to do – you don’t want it to end, you’re convinced you can make it work, maybe if you just gave a little bit more time, spent some more money or gave up a little more freedom. Maybe you could close that negotiation. Or maybe not.
We can find ourselves hitting our heads against a wall with someone that just won’t budge, or results that keep getting worse no matter what we say or do. And it’s usually pride that keeps us from cutting our losses and walking away from the table.
Truth be told; yes, it will sting to admit defeat – it’s not fun. But by hanging on, you’re investing good energy after bad (instead of tackling another negotiation or new opportunity) and usually with that energy comes throwing good money after bad (another trip to meet for discussions, shaving a few more % points off your asking price…)
Taking a hit on the time, energy and resources you’ve invested so far is difficult, but when all of these are in short supply (I can’t think of a single entrepreneur that has oodles of any of these lying around), chalk it up to experience and end it.
Besides wasting resources, there’s a bigger risk to sticking it out – the more we invest, the more we want to ‘save’ the deal and the more desperate we become as we feel it slip away. This negotiation desperation means that we’re more likely to accept a really crappy deal, figuring that it’s better than nothing.
So, what are the signs that it’s time to throw in the towel on your negotiation?
1) You’ve been at a stalemate for weeks, and new techniques or approaches aren’t helping
Last Ditch Effort: Try a brain dump, to document everything that’s happened so far – everything you’ve given, gotten, said, or been told. Mine this for any leads or new ideas for how you can turn this around. If nothing pops up…move on.
2) Your dealing with someone who is belligerent and is digging in their heels. Shifting away from a positional approach hasn’t been possible
Last Ditch Effort: Have a tough talk with them – “I’d really like to get this deal done, but I’m not sure we’re moving in the right direction. Can we press pause, re-assess, and then take a fresh start in a week?” If this fresh start doesn’t bring a new tone and attitude…move on.
3) Your return on the investment of time, energy and finances is now non-existent, or worse – negative
Last Ditch Effort: Figure out what your alternatives are – how much would it cost (think of more than money!) to switch to a new client or new vendor now that this opportunity isn’t working out too well. If the cost of closing the current deal is way higher than the effort needed to move to your alternative…move on.
4) You’ve had to decline other offers or pull out of other negotiations because of the time you’re investing in this one. Consider your opportunity cost – what else could you be doing with this time, energy and money?
Last Ditch Effort: Flip back through your notebook, agenda and emails. Take a gander at what’s on the horizon for your business. See something there that gets you excited? Enthusiastic? Something that you’d have to skip if you were either stuck in this sub-optimal deal, or stuck in the negotiation cycle? If so…move on.
Have you ever had to throw in the towel? Aren’t you proud of me that I managed to write this whole article without quoting Kenny Rogers' The Gambler? How do you make the decision on sticking it out, or moving on in your business?