Negotiation: Key Moments Of Truth

Bob Gibson talks about the moments of truth that happen in every negotiation and the importance of catching them as they happen.

The outcome of every Sales negotiation centers on what we call “Moments of Truth” here at Negotiating Wisdom. Moments of truth are the turning points, or hinge points in a negotiation. They’re those moments when it may go your way, or against you. Those moments when trust may go up – or go down. Some examples of Moments of Truth might be:

  • The first number to hit the table. The first number, whether it comes from you or the customer – is a moment of truth. Once that stake is in the ground, it determines all that comes after it. If you’re selling and the first number is low, you start off in the hole. If it’s too high it can destroy credibility.

  • The moment when a customer opens up, and you begin to understand their problems on a deeper level – that’s the beginning of trust, and it’s a moment of truth.

  • The point at which you’re head-to-head and you sense there’s no leeway – no give on their part. That’s a moment of truth as well – it’s just not a good one.

  • When you’re apart on money, and the customer is leaning on you to reduce the price – that’s a moment of truth. If you cave-in and drop the price, that’s a negative moment of truth. If you go back to value and articulately position yourself as representing greater value in the marketplace, that’s a positive moment of truth.

  • The close – obviously a moment of truth.

Moments of truth don’t have to be huge/knock you off your feet events. A moment of truth might be a small as: You’re on the phone and ask a question. There’s a significant pause. You know what it means. That may be a moment of truth (the pause wasn’t the moment of truth. You catching it and understanding it – that’s the moment of truth.)

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the years:

Good negotiators have developed the ability to sense a “moment of truth” in the moment – as it happens. The key words here are in the moment. Good negotiators have good antennae. Average negotiators realize moments of truth, but they tend to realize them after the negotiation is over. We’ve all done that. How many times have you heard someone say, “Looking back on the meeting with Harry last week, when he made that comment about the San Diego group – that was heavy.”

Here’s what else I’ve noticed:

Poor negotiators never realize it happened at all. Some people are just inert. Just not tuned in. Part of your homework as a sales negotiator is to constantly sharpen your listening skills, to get your antennae a little higher, and to be tuned in a touch more. The more you’re tuned in, the more accurate your tactics and strategies will be on target and the better your negotiations will be. The result – you’ll close more sales at higher margins!

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