Tactful Tactics

20 03 2008

Has this ever happened to you? You get down to the very end of the negotiation, the deal is all but done, the pen is poised, and WHAM! something goes wrong. You had such a great plan. You did your homework; you put together a great proposal; you worked through the bargaining phase and thought you had put together a win-win agreement. There was a little bit of minor friction here and there, but you found great solutions that worked for both sides. Everybody was happy … you thought. But at the last moment, the other side suddenly wants to change something and it will most likely cost you money. What is going on?

Well, most likely what happened is that you got harpooned by what is called a NEGOTIATION TACTIC. Briefly, a tactic is a maneuver one side makes during the course of a negotiation in order to gain an advantage. Maybe they want to stall for time and get extra information; maybe they want to put pressure on you to close faster and on their terms. Whatever the reason, the one thing most tactics have in common is that you never see them coming. You will be rocking right along, maybe you are already planning that trip to Aruba you are going to take with the bonus money you are earning on this deal and suddenly … well, that gasping sound you hear is all the air going out of your lungs when you get blindsided by a simple tactic that could also let all the air out of the great deal you thought you had.

Most tactics fall into one of five basic categories:

First, there are Pressure Tactics consisting of maneuvers that play on the fear of losing the opportunity to close a deal, forcing someone to make unwise concessions. A deadline is a good example of a pressure tactic.

There are also Delaying Tactics — moves that drag out the process and buy time for gaining information and implementing other tactics. Checking with “my manager” is a delay tactic.

There are also Manipulative Tactics. These steps may be intended to trick or deceive you, or at least leverage your emotions so that you might make a decision that is not necessarily in your best interests. “Hey, I like you. Can you help me out here?” can be a very manipulative maneuver.

Of course, there are plain old Power or One-up Tactics. These are the kind of approaches that are intended to discourage you from even thinking about challenging the other side’s position in the first place. “I’m sorry, that’s our policy and we can’t change it,” is a power tactic.

Finally, there are Collaborative Tactics. These actions are designed to build trust and find mutually beneficial solutions. Unlike the others, these tactics are constructive and form the basis of the principled approach to negotiating known as WIN-WIN negotiating. I happen to believe that the best outcome for a negotiation is for every one to come away from the table happy with the results. For that reason, I am a big advocate of Collaborative Tactics, because they tend to produce the kind of trust necessary to get people working for a WIN-WIN. Anytime someone says to you, “what if we could do X,” they are offering you a collaborative solution.l

There is one other thing to remember about the tactics of negotiation. While some negotiation tactics stoop to the level of dirty tricks we call these gutter tactics and we DON’T encourage them most of the time these tactics are simply the way a skillful negotiator works to gain the most favorable outcome for his team or himself. Also, many of these tactics can be used both proactively and reactively, which is to say that you might sometimes rely on a tactic as you initiate a proposal, but you might also rely on the very same tactic to counter or offset a proposal from the other side.

It’s not really as complicated as it sounds. If you stop and think about it, you will probably discover that you have already been using some of these tactics all along; because some of them are just an outgrowth of the way we humans interact with each other normally. The most important thing to remember is this: once you begin to see how these tactics arise and how they are used, you have a new source of power that can increase your success during any type of negotiation.




One response

26 03 2009
SalesJournal.com » Tactful Tactics

[…] out of the great deal you thought you had, and most tactics fall into one of five basic categories: View the article here, to see how these tactics arise and how they are used, so that you have a new source of power that […]

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