Why Winning A Negotiation Is A Horrible Idea

by Johnny Bravo · 1 comment

Why Winning A Negotiation Is A Horrible IdeaLike selling, I believe that negotiations are a part of life. We negotiate all day, every day. And whether you notice it or not you are negotiating in almost every single interaction you have with another person.

Where should we go to dinner? – You are negotiating to go where you want. 

Do you know what happened to Jim? – You are trying to get information out of someone. 

Will you go on a date with me? – I think I am a good mate for you. 

Negotiations are centered around getting something that you want. Or so many people mistakenly believe.

If you take a look again at the above questions you’ll notice that they rely on one very important fact, your relationship with the person you are negotiating with.

Whether you’re going to dinner with your wife, gossiping with your friend, or asking the cute girl down the hall out, your goal is to build or keep the rapport and relationship you’ve already built up.

Negotiations are not about taking without also giving. It is a delicate balance between getting what you want without making the other person feel cheated.

In the sales profession many people make the mistake of thinking “I want to win this negotiation” or “I hope I don’t lose this sale”. This mindset is inherently flawed. The reason is because you can never “win” a negotiation.

Negotiations are not about winning, or at least they shouldn’t be. Whether you are participating in a business negotiation or a salary negotiation, the goal should not be to win.

It’s one thing to come to a negotiation prepared to make a deal. It’s another thing to come prepared to “win”.

What I want to do today is impart on you the idea that negotiations are never about winning. In fact if you walk away from a negotiation thinking that you “won” then there is something seriously wrong with your sales mentality.

Negotiations are not about getting what you want. They’re about building a relationship based on trust. ~ Tweet This!

This is where the idea of a “win-win” comes from.

In most cases. you as a sales person win by getting a new account, at a profitable price, based on terms favorable for a lasting partnership. As the customer, they win by getting a great product/service, at a fair price, that fixes a problem they are experiencing in their business.

I truly believe both parties should feel some version of winning when they walk away from a negotiation.

Why You Want To Stay Away From Winning

I know this idea goes against almost everything you are taught in business, sales training, and life in general.

But when you really think about it, going for the win in a negotiating is not the right way to go about getting a sale. Winning can build resentment. And makes future negotiations harder.

Like good vs evil, winning implies that there is also a loser. This is not how you build a lasting relationship.

If you nickle and dime a prospect what are the chances that they will come to you first for their next purchase or add-on? Why would they give you any referrals? What makes you better then the pushy salesman that calls them everyday?

When you go for the win you are simply telling them that you are in this only for yourself.

That is not how you keep customers.

What you want to do is offer something up first. Give before you take. This helps build immediate trust because when you give something up first you are putting skin in the game first. This shows that you are committed to the relationship, it shows that you have value to give, and it shows that you are serious about working together.

How To End A Negotiation

As the title suggests, I believe that winning a negotiation is a horrible idea. However in order for the world to turn, negotiations have to end at some point.

There are two things that are required to end a negotiation. The will to commit and the authority to do it.

In order to come out of a negotiation with a mutually beneficial next step you need to know the very minimum you can walk away with. This has everything to do with going into the meeting with a plan.

Know what you are able to give and know what you have to get. If you can get more, great. If you have to give more then you planned, so be it. The point is that when you start a relationship with a new customer you want to start off on the right foot. With trust.

But knowing what you have to give is different then being able to give it. Authority, on both sides, needs to be present a negotiation meeting in order for it to end. If you are offering something up then you better be able to provide it when it comes time to sign the agreement.

Now I want to know what you think. Is it possible to “win” a negotiation or am I right to say that it’s a horrible idea. Let me know in the comments below. 

~ Johnny Bravo

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Fawkes August 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm

So true! I would add that this goes well beyond sales. In particular, I see a lot of companies suffering needless morale problems and high turnover because they’re so good at “winning” the salary/benefits negotiation.


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