Negotiation is an essential element of sales, not to mention other aspects of business. It’s vital for reaching mutually beneficial outcomes, closing more deals, and growing your business.
And yet, there are times when it’s in your best interest NOT to negotiate. Here are eight of them.
1. When you don’t have to
If you have a product or service that’s in high demand—or if you have a scarce supply of it—you don’t need to negotiate. If one particular prospect doesn’t buy because you’re not willing to give them a deal, there are plenty more who will. There’s a reason Rolexes and Ferraris don’t go on sale.
2. When you can’t trust the other side
If you don’t believe the people you’re dealing with can be trusted—for any reason—there’s no point in negotiating. Just walk away.
3. When it’s not worth the time
Negotiating takes time, and time is money. Time spent negotiating is time spent not doing other things that are important for your sales or your business. If the time it would take to negotiate exceeds the value you would stand to gain, don’t bother. Just say yes or no and move one.
4. When the deal is bad for you
A good deal serves both parties’ interests. But some people will make you an offer that serves their interests without truly serving yours. As a professional speaker, I often receive requests to speak for free, with the promise of “great exposure.” I have learned, however—as many other speakers also have—that free speeches typically lead to requests for more free speeches. And that principle applies to your business as well: bad deals typically lead to more bad deals.
5. When your counterpart isn’t the final decision-maker
If the person you’re negotiating with can’t say yes to the deal you hammer out, you’re wasting your time. Because just when you think you’ve reached a conclusion, you’re going to have to start the process all over again with the person they have to report to. And this time, you’ll be starting from a position that’s weaker than your original opening position. Negotiate with the decision-makers or not at all.
6. When the other side isn’t that interested
If a prospect—or a job applicant, or a potential business partner—doesn’t really want what you have to offer, sweetening the pot isn’t going to help much. So don’t bother. Instead, invest your time and energy seeking out those who would be a better fit. Your results will be far superior.
7. When it’s unseemly
Occasionally, someone will come to you with a very weak negotiating position. And they aren’t asking for very much. Maybe an employee with a sick relative is requesting some additional time off. Or a charity is asking for a small donation. Or a friend has tickets to a concert or ball game they’re offering you cheap because they can’t go. Sure, you could squeeze them. But do you want to be the kind of person who does that?
8. When you’ve established enough trust that it isn’t necessary
It isn’t easy to create this kind of relationship, but when you do, it’s a thing of beauty. I worked with a client for several years. In the beginning, we negotiated every detail of every project. Over time, though, we built up enough mutual respect, appreciation, and trust that we didn’t need to negotiate any more. They would make me offers they knew I would say yes to and I did the same thing in return. It saved everyone time and hassle. It’s a great goal to strive for—with every client, employee, vendor, and partner you have.
Negotiating is one of the most important skills you can master. It’s incredibly valuable, both in business and your personal life. But knowing when not to negotiate can be every bit as valuable.