Startup Sales - The Pair Negotiation Tactic

Posted by Steli Efti on Tue, Feb 25, 2014


When you're negotiating a deal, there's always an invisible force working against you: time.

Getting emotionally invested - the negotiation kiss of death

The problem isn't just that you want to optimize for closing the deal as soon as possible but that the more time and effort you invest into a negotiation, the more emotionally "invested" you become in it's success.

A natural consequence is that it becomes harder and harder for you to not make more compromises and concessions as time progresses during the negotiation in your desire to have a successful outcome. 

Nobody is immune from this negotiation weakness

It doesn't matter if you're a rookie negotiator or a pro. As long as you have a pulse you're likely fall victim to this phenomenon. As you lose your objectivity and willingness to walk away from the deal you lose your ability to negotiate effectively. 

The good news is that there is a very simple and effective solution to this problem: pair negotiations. 

Get someone involved in the last stages of the deal 

Present the terms of the deal to someone in your team who has not been involved in the negotiation and has no stake in it. Do that during the final stages of the deal to make sure your peer has the proper distance to look at the deal with fresh eyes. 

A peer negotiator to balance you out

You want to find someone who you fully trust and that has critical thinking abilities. In a startup you might want to bring in an engineer to fill this role ( engineers are super helpful in the final stages of negotiations, they are absolutely amazing at unemotionally pocking holes into deals).

You present the current terms & demands from the other party and ask for feedback on the things you're willing to compromise on.

Almost always the person will push back hard on you and question why your position is so weak and why you're willing to give in so much to the other side.

This will feel very uncomfortable. You will likely feel compelled to push back. It's funny but often you'll find yourself defending the other side and taking their position in the negotiation. 

If you're self aware and you trust the person you're pair negotiating with this will be a very healthy interaction highlighting opportunities as well as weaknesses in your current position.

It's a good quality & sanity check before you're ready to seal the deal. And more often than not it will help you avoid costly mistakes and take advantage of big opportunities before closing a great deal.

Try this out next time you're negotiating and see for yourself what a difference it'll make.

Want to learn more about startup sales negotiations? Click here for more tips from us!


Topics: sales, startup sales, sales negotiation

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