When should I make the next move in negotiating a deal?

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Dear Norm,
I’ve often heard that there’s a point in every negotiation when the next person who talks loses. I’m trying to land a large account I want very badly. I’ve made a proposal, and my contact has passed it along to his financial people. He’s supposed to come back with a counteroffer. I’ve called him twice, and he hasn’t had the information. I know that he thinks we can provide his company with savings it can pass along to its customers. He was planning to give one of his customers the savings info at a meeting coming up shortly. Should I call him before the meeting or wait for him to make the next move?

Dear Daniel,
If I followed that rule about not talking first, there would be dead silence in many of my negotiations. I don’t think you should worry about losing the negotiation as much as landing the customer—if not now, then later. The question is, why isn’t your contact calling you back? Some people are embarrassed to deliver bad news. You need to make it easy for them, or you’ll never find out what the problems were. If I were you, I’d wait until the deadline passed and then leave him a voice mail saying, “I realize the meeting was yesterday, and I just want you to know that we’re still interested in working with you in the future, even if the answer on this deal is no. So please give me a call.”
Yours truly, Norm

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