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Are you a good negotiator?

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I have had to negotiate several times this week. Nothing unusual about that, but it got me thinking about why so many sales professionals lack this most basic and essential skill, why so many leave so much money on the table and why margins are not defended more vigorously. Maybe if they used their own money, as I do, things might be a whole lot different.

So, here are the 40 most common mistakes made by negotiators (in my opinion):

  1. Failing to prepare effectively for a negotiation.
  2. Underestimating your own power.
  3. Assuming the other party knows your weaknesses and strengths.
  4. Being intimidated by the status of the person with whom you are negotiating.
  5. Concentrating on your own problems, rather than those of the other party.
  6. Forgetting the other party also has things to gain from an agreement.
  7. Making assumptions about what the other party wants.
  8. Having low aspirations for yourself.
  9. Giving too much credence to deadlines set by the other party.
  10. Assuming the other side is aware of the short- and long-term benefits of reaching an agreement.
  11. Being intimidated by rules set by the other party.
  12. Misunderstanding the tactics used by the other party.
  13. Talking too much.
  14. Failing to listen effectively.
  15. Believing everything the other party says about you, your service, your competition, etc.
  16. Being forced into discussing price too early in the negotiation.
  17. Revealing your “hand” too early.
  18. Aiming too low with your opening bid.
  19. Accepting the first offer.
  20. Giving away concessions for nothing.
  21. Conceding an important issue too quickly.
  22. Making concessions too easily and thus raising the other party’s expectations.
  23. Feeling guilty about asking for a concession.
  24. Making concessions before knowing the other party’s demands.
  25. Failing to make concessions conditional on a final agreement being reached.
  26. Making concessions of equal size to those on offer.
  27. Paying too much attention to price rather than value.
  28. Discussing issues for which you are not prepared.
  29. Being inflexible.
  30. Losing sight of the overall agreement when deadlock is reached over minor issues.
  31. Responding to a high demand with a counter offer instead of challenging the validity of the demand.
  32. Assuming deadlock means agreement is not possible.
  33. Believing deadlock is unpleasant only for you and not the other party.
  34. Trying to be likeable during the final stages.
  35. Bluffing without having a strategy ready should your bluff be called.
  36. Taking things personally.
  37. Offering to split the difference.
  38. Being intimidated by “This is my final offer.”
  39. Not preparing for the possibility you may need to walk away.
  40. Not conducting a “post-mortem” afterward.

Think back to the last time you had to negotiate. Do you recognize any of these errors? If so, take some time to sharpen your skills for your next foray into battle.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit, or go to his blog at


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