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December 1, 2018

Negotiating Tip 39: Initial Offer Do’s and Dont's

Warnings or advice that can make all the difference.

It has been with amazing regularity that the topic of initial offers has been called to my attention.  Let's discuss some of the do/don't admonitions regarding initial offers.

Don't make the first offer in a negotiation.  Let the other side do that.  It might be a pleasant surprise.
 
Do give yourself room to negotiate.  In other words be a bit demanding or ambitious.

Don't convey an ambitious offer in a manner that indicates that it's a firm and final position. Watch your framing or word choice.  Convey that you're looking for a win-win solution.

Do include multiple issues when framing your initial offer.  One issue negotiations (typically about money) can only result in a win-lose conclusion.

Don't share that your initial position is "negotiable".  That signals that you'll easily concede.  Substitute the word "discussable".  That shares you're open to bargaining.

Do give a flinch to every initial offer you receive.  You should expect one in response to your initial offer too.  That's a sure signal that both sides know how to play the negotiating game.

Don't feel compelled to immediately respond to the other party's initial offer.  Slow the process and let them "stew" for a while.  Impatience can be your worst enemy.

And finally, do ask (or force) the other party to defend, explain and sell the rationale of their initial offer. Good negotiators always look to find a weakness in their opponent's position.  If you can get them to talk long enough, that weakness will surface.

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