The Most Important Negotiation In The Business or Sales Profession

Bob Gibson talks about the importance of the first negotiation in a business or sales relationship and the common mistakes to watch out for.

The most important negotiation in the sales profession and your most important negotiation with any customer is the first one. That’s because the first negotiation sets the tone for everything that follows.

I find salespeople worldwide giving in - leaving money on the table at the beginning, to “enhance the relationship.” This is the worst time to cave in. Most contracts are to be reviewed and hopefully renewed in the future, often a year or two, or even three. While the tendency to give in at this stage of the game may be natural, experience shows that if you give away the farm in the beginning to “get your foot in the door” it is next to impossible to negotiate a better deal the next round. You have not only undercut the profit for this deal, but probably for the next several years.

I love golf and one of my favorite golf stories comes from the late great Harvey Pennick. It seems that one of Mr. Pennick’s students found himself in the rough on the right – thick in the trees. Mr. Pennick asked him, “What kind of shot are you planning to hit from here?’ The student replied, ”I’m going to hit a low fade to stay under the branches and land 30 yards in front of the green, then roll it up to the flag.” Harvey put his hand on the man’s shoulder and told him, “If you could hit a shot like that, you wouldn’t be over here.”

That same principle applies to the sales process. It takes a good negotiator to articulately build value and forge a profitable deal. It takes a masterful negotiator to change the dance once the song has begun. If you can’t bring in profitable business the first time around, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it later. This is your best shot. Do a good deal now.

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