How to manage the dreaded “no” within a negotiation.
Q. Sometimes, despite my best efforts to understand a customer’s needs and to come up with creative options, my counterpart rejects even my best offer and decides to go with our biggest competitor. What do I do when I am faced with a firm ‘no’ after ongoing attempts to come up with a deal that will be good for both of us?
You may think the solutions you’ve suggested are the best ones to meet both of your needs, and often you will be right – but not always. It pays to check with your counterpart to find out why they’ve rejected your offer and what would it have taken to reach an agreement. Be sure to acknowledge their prerogative to walk away – if they give you a firm “no”, you want to be careful you don’t look like you refuse to take “no” for an answer. By acknowledging their right to say no, it makes it safer for them to answer your questions.
For example, you might want to ask, “Obviously we are very disappointed at not winning your business. Can you help me understand why you’ve decided to go with our competitor?” Or, “Can you help me understand what we would have needed to offer you for us to win your business?”
The answers to these questions will help you in three ways:
So next time you are faced with a “no”, make sure you follow up with some good questions.
Great negotiators invest the time after the negotiations to review and reflect on the outcome and learn ways to improve for the future.