Negotiating Tip #21:
How to Find Mutual Benefit Concessions
Once you have the other side’s attention so they will listen to your ideas, how do you find mutual gain concessions? The most important way is not making — or asking for – unilateral concessions.
If you make a concession, you should say: “Yes, I can do that for you, but here’s what I need you to do in return for me”; OR: “No, I can’t live with what you’re asking for, but here’s what I can offer you instead”. For example, to get the ball rolling, the buyer might say: “If you can bring that price down 5%, I could serve as a demo site for you.” And the seller could come back with: “I can’t come down 5% but if you would be willing to be a demo site, I’d raise our service levels, and give you a guaranteed 2-hour response time 24/7 if you run into problems.”
So now the buyer could say: “I like the idea of you giving me a quicker response time, but if we’re going be a demo site, I’d also like you to give me a 3-year warranty, with more extensive coverage.” And the seller could respond: “I could give you that extension on the warranty if you would allow us to simplify the spec on the servers by using these parts for which we just made a huge bulk purchase deal.”
What’s driving this process of value-mapping – of finding changes very useful to the other side without costing you much if anything – is that both buyer and seller are thinking about what they could trade: not what to demand, but what could they trade. That is the heart of mutual gain concessions.