Recognizing When to Close a Negotiation
The when of closing a negotiation is easy: early and often. Some people don’t seem to want or need to close the deal. They are like cows chewing their cud. They just go on and on enjoying the process, burning up time, and never bringing discussions to a close. And then again, like cows, they will put something away and bring it back up later and chew on it some more. Disgusting. Fortunately, you know that closing is a separate skill, and you keep it in mind at every phase of the negotiating process.
Keep the closing in mind as you prepare for your negotiation, as you listen to the other side, and every time you speak. A little piece of your mind should always focus on the closing — on bringing the negotiation to a mutually acceptable solution. You aren’t likely to miss an opportunity to close when you view closing as a separate aspect of the negotiation rather than just the lucky result of a negotiation.
The proper moment to make your first effort at closing a deal is when you first sit down.
Your mantra for closing: early and often. A recent study of salespeople revealed that a very small percentage of sales close after the first effort. Most sales close after at least three efforts to get the order. Try to close any negotiation as early as possible and keep trying until you prevail.
If you have trouble closing deals, intentionally try to close your next negotiation earlier than you think is possible. You find that no harm is done and that the other side becomes sensitized to the need to conclude matters. Make a game of it. Chart your efforts to close. Your rate of successful closings rises as you become more and more aware of closing as a separate skill to bring out early and often.
Many people find it is easier to close a deal if they set a deadline to do so. Negotiations tend to fall into place at the last minute. Having a deadline is like having a referee at the bargaining table. Remember, every deal has time constraints, so establishing a deadline can help the negotiation come to a smooth end.
The phony deadline is a classic negotiating tool used to hurry one side into a quick close. If you suspect a phony deadline, don’t sit back and accept it. Instead, test it. Get an explanation.