Saying thank-you matters. It really matters. Not only does it show that you’ re grateful, but it helps us enjoy our experiences, reduce anxiety, and it makes relationships stronger. In negotiation, saying thank-you can be really powerful. Some negotiation experts suggest that expressing gratitude in a negotiation invites exploitation. I do not agree.
You should be using ‘thank-you’ strategically. There are 3 places in a negotiation where you MUST thank the other party.
Thank the other party for meeting with you. Both parties have invested time into meeting. And, its likely that both parties have invested significant time in preparing for the negotiation. Recognize that. You MUST thank the other party for meeting with you. And be sincere about it. Take time at the beginning of the negotiation to thank the other party for their time. Many old school negotiators will tell you that the person you’re negotiating with is “just a supplier” or “just a buyer”, but that’s nonsense. When you negotiate with someone, something strange and amazing happens in the exchange between both parties. Negotiation is interpersonal and intimate. And when people negotiate with each other, the relationships that are formed between two people are very different then any other kind of relationship. You are dealing with are people,….not machines,….not “just a supplier”,….not “just a buyer”. Recognize that.
Ever heard of the term, “thank and bank”. It is critical that you thank the other party after they make a concession and that you bank it. But how you say thank-you is almost more important than the thank-you itself.
What do I mean by this?
Let’s say, for example, that a buyer of your product has made a concession and has actually offered a higher price than they originally came in at in the beginning of the negotiation. Now, if you’ve been reading my material for a while, you know how I feel aboutstrategic cringing already. Once you’ve cringed you MUST pause (for at least 3 FULL seconds). After the pause you should say the following:
“Thank-you so much for your offer, I appreciate it, I’ll definitely accept it…AND I believe that the value that our product provides your organization, because of [insert benefit here], requires a larger investment. I need you to increase your price, please.”
Do you see what happened here? Let’s break this down:
- Firstly, you thanked the other party for their offer. You never know how much effort someone has put in to providing you with a concession. They may work in an incredibly bureaucratic organization and getting approval to make ANY concession may require significant effort. You need to recognize that. So say ‘thank-you’ and be sincere.
- Secondly, you accepted the offer. This is the ‘bank’ of ‘thank and bank’. Before this concession you had no concession. They were offering you a lower price than what you just got offered. If you do not accept this offer, you’ve still got no concession. Ever heard the saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”? But, and this is critical, just because you accepted the offer, it doesn’t mean the deal is done. Why? Because of you next sentence.
- Thirdly, you paused (For 2 full seconds). When you pause, you create anxiety in the other party. Things get awkward when there’s silence and people get uncomfortable and try to fill the void. Sometimes, the other party throws out a concession to try to regain composure and control of the situation. Remember earlier when I said that you don’t know how much effort someone has put in to providing you with a concession. Well, you also don’t know whether there’s still room for the buyer to move their price up. That’s why you pause. But don’t pause for longer than 2 seconds because rhythm here is KEY.
- Fourthly, you said AND. Not BUT. ‘But’ is a negative word. NEVER EVER EVER say words like: but; however; yet; despite that; and nonetheless after the other party has made a concession. When you say these words it immediately tells the other party that their offer isn’t good enough. And, while that may be true, when you do this it forces the other party into defense instead of drawing them out for another round of concessions. When you use a word like ‘and’, you are connecting them to next question or statement and you immediately create anticipation instead of frustration.
- Lastly, you show them that your product provides significant value to their organization and you request a higher price as a result.
Following this formula will deliver better results in negotiations for you. Language is powerful and how you use that language can literally make or break deals.
When the negotiation is over, thank the other party. The other party needs to feel like they’ve won. CONGRATULATE the other party!!!! Make them feel like they’ve won. Thank them for their time. Thank them for their effort. Sincerely say thank you. If the other leaves the negotiation without feeling good about the deal your next negotiation with them will be more difficult. Showing gratitude also motivates those we thank to keep on giving (think of post sale service).
Saying thank-you matters. It doesn’t invite exploitation. Quite the opposite, it presents opportunity.