Although deals seem complicated, there are only a few reasons why the opponent will say “no.” From our experience coaching & negotiating billions of dollars in deals over 20+ years, it often boils down to:
This short list is in a specific order; you shouldn’t skip around.
To uncover what’s making your negotiation difficult, let’s progress through each of these strategies.
The most common mistake is to assume it’s all about price. It’s time to consider what really went wrong.
After all, if selling and pitching haven’t painted a vision of the benefits your opponent will gain, that’s on you. You should fully expect rejection if your opponent doesn’t share or see this vision.
So how do you find out what they are seeing? Ask these questions:
Once you know what they see, can you understand why they are saying “no?” If you get clarity and agreement on the vision and they still say “no”, go to the next step.
If this is the case, you need to ask your opponent:
If this data is provided and you are still at a standstill, proceed further.
It could be that your opponent doesn’t have the authority to say “yes,” but how do you find out? You should ask questions that don’t merely have a yes or no answer. Ask questions that start with what, who, where, how, why, or which, using points 1 & 2.
Questions like these will reveal if your opponent’s representative has the authority to make decisions. If they do, the negotiation should now move forward.
If you are still stuck, the decision maker may be bluffing you.
To expose a bluff, ask them questions about the reasons why they are still saying” no.”
See if they can hold their position under detailed scrutiny. To expose the bluff, you may need to call it by accepting their decision of “no.” When you accept their “no” or their rejection, you don’t walk away.
You can say,
A Camp Systems client, UGM Corp, made a proposal to a Fortune 500 company, BigCo for about $10M in services. (The names have been changed.) There was a preliminary agreement to move ahead. Next, the business team at BigCo introduced UGM to their procurement department. The VP of Purchasing sent them this message:
UGM felt they needed the deal but put that emotion aside and focused on what they wanted, rather than what they needed. UGM was confident they had agreement on a shared vision of what the service would provide to BigCo (Reason 1). UGM provided convincing data on how they could provide the services to meet BigCo’s needs (Reason 2).
BigCo’s price rejection was most likely due to lack of authority or a bluff (Reason 3 or 4). With our coaching guidance, UGM responded to the VP of Purchasing and copied the business team.
This question asks procurement if they have the authority to reject. If not, it puts procurement and the business team into an internal negotiation. The result was that the BigCo business team accepted the UGM proposal without UGM reducing their price.