You’re Not a Negotiating Underdog

I was rushing through Atlanta Airport after an entire day of negotiating with a client. My flight was in 30-minutes, so I was beginning to think the deal was not going to happen. That’s when things got interesting.

I’ve spent many days negotiating over the years and have grown confident in closing deals. I always think I’m going to win. While surprised, I knew today’s game wasn’t over.

As we approached the Gate area, my client guided me into the Food Court. He pulled out the contract and replaced my fee with a smaller number. Then, he handed me the pen and said, “If you can do it for that, I’ll sign right now.”

Checking my watch and not wanting to miss my flight, I almost took the deal. After all, winners get deals done. But, experience has taught me something else. Business deals that start poorly rarely get better. I decided to turn his less than classy negotiating gambit on its head.

As humans, we are hard-wired to survive and thrive. As much as I wanted to take the deal to feed my family, I knew I wouldn’t be thriving. I also knew my client needed what I would do for him, my price was fair, and more importantly, he was afraid I wouldn’t do it.

We all feel like the underdog when negotiating. It goes both ways.

With that I said,

“If you can sign the original deal before I get on the plane, I’ll do it. Otherwise, I’ll have to pass. I’ve enjoyed spending the day with you.”

He who speaks first loses. I kept my mouth shut.

Thirty seconds later, he signed the original deal, gave me a deposit, and asked, “When can we get started?”

The relationship lasted for years, and we never had that experience again. It turned out to be an excellent deal for both of us.

Always keep in mind that we all feel like the underdog when negotiating. It will serve you well.

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