If I… Will you?

Whenever someone asks me about a particular negotiation point or tactic, I always tell them to remember the following phrase and to use it in every negotiation:

“If I…. will you ….”

For example,

“If I drop the set-up fee, will you be able to sign this week?”
“If I can get my boss to agree to the price reduction, will you agree to extend your contract from 12 months to 18 months?”
“If I commit to adding this feature in a future release, will you allow us to use your logo on our website.”

It’s a simple idea of negotiation where you each get something, but I find thinking of always phrasing the question in this way, forces you to think about the negotiation process in the right way.  And, it always reminds you to make sure that every time a prospect/customer asks you to give on something, they should know that they are expected to give on something.  That something may be as simple as giving you the order, or another non-cash item, but they are expected to give in order to get.

What you should never do, is give up something for nothing.   When a customer asks for a feature, a reduction in price, a concession of any kind, they are trying to move the process forward (or stalling).  This is your opportunity to also move the deal forward the way you want it to (or determine that this deal isn’t real).   If you really always want to sell a win-win solution, then when your customer/prospect asks for something, you should be getting something for that too.

Negotiations are rarely easy, but I find that remembering the simple “If I… will you”  phrase keeps my brain in the right mode of thinking.