First Rule of Negotiating in SalesYou negotiate every day. With prospects, customers, bosses, co-workers, vendors—even with friends and family. And while there are hundreds of strategies and tactics that can help you negotiate more effectively, there is one rule that is paramount:

You must be willing to walk away from the deal.

This principle is the foundation of all negotiating approaches and its importance cannot be overstated. It is the single biggest determinant as to whether your negotiation will result in success or failure.

Because the moment you’ve committed to a particular outcome, regardless of what it takes, you’ve lost all your negotiating power. If you can’t say no, you’re doomed.

If your prospect knows you can’t walk away from a deal, they can take you for everything. Or they can dictate terms that are to your detriment.

Demonstrating your willingness to walk away, on the other hand, can give you enormous leverage in a negotiation. When the other side knows there’s a legitimate risk of losing what they want, they’re less likely to push you and more likely to agree with your positions.

I’m not saying you should run away at the drop of a hat. But you need to determine ahead of time what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, in terms of pricing, timelines, conditions and behaviors. You need boundaries, and you need to respect your boundaries before your counterpart will. (By the way, this applies to relationships as well as to sales.)

There are some deals that just aren’t worth it. There are some clients you’re better off without. Being willing to walk away will protect you from both, while improving your results in all your other negotiations.