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During a recent workshop I conducted, one of the participants told me about a struggle he was having with a very important deal. He was trying to get a large contract with a Fortune 500 account.

While he had been working for months to establish his firm as the best one to provide his proposed services, the client suddenly sent him to work with the purchasing department. There he was assigned a contract specialist who focused on price reductions.

It felt like all the work he had done illustrating why his company’s solution was perfectly matched to meet their requirements that only his company could offer, was all for not. He felt like he had to start all over again with purchasing who was not even interested in his value proposition.

How frustrating it must have been to have worked so hard to convince your client that you are the best, only to be shoved off to someone who really doesn’t care. He told me his sense of excitement about the possibility of inking a multimillion-dollar deal was lost and the chances of closing such a deal were fading away.

He was becoming desperate…to the point where he was considering giving the contract specialist what he demanded even if it meant destroying a good deal. It was truly devastating.

He asked me if I had any advice on how to right the ship that was sinking fast. The simple answer is yes…there is a way to shift power in your direction in a negotiation, but the process is not easy to accomplish. I told him that if he did the following, he will get this deal back on track:

  1. Stop thinking desperate thoughts – don’t dwell on why you “need to get the deal done” and start thinking about why you “want to get the deal done”. They are talking to you for a reason and the reason is that you have something they need…do not forget that!
  2. Start thinking about why the other side needs to get this deal done. What problems are they facing by not securing your services? What will their alternative be, if any, to solve this problem? What will it cost them to look for an alternative, and what if it doesn’t meet their requirements? What will it cost them to replicate what you have offered to do? This shifts the power back in your direction quickly.
  3. Re-engage the business people you worked with originally. Bring them back into the deal process. Don’t have another meeting with the contract specialist without the business people present. They will help you with the value discussions as they are the people that will actually be using your services and working with you and your team for the long haul.

A few weeks later I received a call from this person who told me the process worked. The negotiation was back on track, they had abandoned the standard agreement for a more customized contract, and the terms were mutually beneficial to both parties.

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