strategic consultant to:  

~ serial CEOs & CTOs in software, Internet, technology & digital media
~ experienced consultants in all fields to maximize their practices

Your demons play in your head and make you a weak negotiator: they say, “You really need this account,” or “They can get anyone to do this, they don’t have to choose me for this consulting work (or product mix).” “Can I really deliver what I am promising?” And even, “Why should they listen to me?” Every new email of negotiation, every question from the client or customer can make you doubt your value, your price, and your likelihood of closing the sale.

Some of these noises in your head may be true, but you are the one doing the negotiating, so the Big Brand has already chosen you, at least initially (this is not a request for proposal competition).

The secret is to notice, repeatedly, that your demons get it wrong. They whisper in your ear that you cannot win, that the world is set against you, that anyone else can do what you can do or deliver what you are selling, and so on.

From this context, everything looks dreary, and you dread even the simplest negotiation. And you should, since this attitude is setting you up for failure in selling your product or your service.

From this perspective, every objection to your offer looks like a criticism. And it is rarely a criticism, as companies don’t actually negotiate with vendors or consultants who do not promise some value to them. So if you are in the negotiation, it is just that – a negotiation. Not a criticism of you, your offering or your product. It isn’t about you at all. It is about budgets and allocations, and internal power politics, and everything except you. So, get your ego in line, and silence those demon voices.

One company executive told my client, “I would hire you in a second for that work, if money weren’t an issue.” This relieved my client of his weeks-long dread that he had offended that executive by pitching an aggressive solution to the problem with an appropriately aggressive price tag. In their conversation, price was not mentioned at all, only the executive’s budget. In fact, the price was acknowledged as appropriate by the opening statement.

In another case, the negotiations went on through several phases, and all of the questions turned out to be about each level of management proving the worth of the product mix to the next level up. When the deal (not changed at all from the beginning proposal) reached the decision maker, there was enough material for her to sign the deal without question.

None of the back-and-forth communication ever questioned the value or the price of the proposed product, its mix, its price or its terms. My client suffered doubts, and suggested we offer concessions each time he got email on this subject, when the email was all about the buyer’s internal system for selling up the management ladder.

One of the tactics of building confidence is noticing what actually happens in the real world, separate from your dreads of what will happen. After noticing what happens, you must then remember each instance of success (or the reasons for failure) until you turn your context from your doubts and demon-voice nay-saying into a grounded assessment of what is true about your position, your service, your product, and your reputation in the real world.

If you are a glass-half-empty person, this will take some time. But persistence will help. Keep notes if that works. Have someone around to remind you.

This is part 3 of a 4-part series of weekly posts on the Tactics of Successful Negotiation: 1) Standing up for your value; 2) Learning the pace of negotiation; 3) Overcoming your demon voices; and 4) Coming from Abundance–the real power.