The 7 Deadly Sins of Negotiation

Nicolas Caron

Published : 29 September 2016
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Pêchers capitaux de la négociation - Le grand Blog de la vente - intro

Whenever the discussion gets tense, especially when it comes to rates, negotiation skills come into play. However, the business environment we have now been dealing with for years is so stressful that people in the field are often prone to losing control. And negotiation techniques cannot translate into proper action unless salespeople manage to keep their head cool and detach themselves from their immediate target. In order to maintain some distance and methodically apply negotiation techniques, we must therefore resist the seven deadly sins of negotiation.

We will see that these sins can be committed by sellers and vendors alike. Knowing about them will allow us to get a better grip on ourselves and maybe help others avoid them, or on the contrary, fall for them!



Pêchers capitaux de la négociation - Le grand Blog de la vente - le besoin


The idea that we negotiate best when we don’t really need the coveted object or service is self-evident.

For instance, when negotiating casually in your private life, you may have often obtained concessions you would never have dreamed of at work. Since you have no real need for what you want to buy, detachment shows through in your behavior, your posture and all the unconscious messages detected by the seller. This distance will ultimately help you reach or maybe even surpass your goal.

Curiously, what seems obvious when doing private business is much less intuitive when people act in their professional capacity. We seem to be able to detach ourselves from the outcome in one case, whereas in the other, we feel a nerve-racking IMPERATIVE to close all the deals.


Always show that you want something,

Never that you need it!




Pêchers capitaux de la négociation - Le grand Blog de la vente - la paresse


 French cinéaste Michel Audiard coined the famous catchphrase : “When a 120 kg man explains something to a 75 kg man, the former is often right.” In negotiation terms, it translates as follows: “When a hardworking seller negotiates with a lazy one, the former is often right.”


  • If in addition to weighing 120 kg (i.e. a big part of your turnover), your contact is well-prepared, negotiating is bound to be tough.
  • If on top of that, you are not as well-prepared as they are, negotiating looks like an impossible feat.
  • On the other hand, if you put more time and thinking into your preparation than they did, the outcome won’t be as much of a forgone conclusion.



Getting ready for the worst is the best way to avoid it.







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Since large retailers and the automotive industry have left their mark, it seems like many can no longer approach negotiating without going through a “warrior” ritual.

Nowadays, few are the people – even among those you’ve worked with for years – who can resist the temptation of waving, more or less tactfully, the threat of walking out on you, reducing your market share, or shutting you out from a project. This is sometimes ridiculous and, if anything, should rather make you smile.

Many salespeople think that they need to act bossy to succeed at negotiating. What nonsense! The goal is not to triumph, to win a verbal contest, or to show that you are stronger. Rather, it is to sign a deal profitable for both parties.

“Nothing is more humiliating than not coming up with

a slashing retort to a slashing attack.”

Milan Kundera


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A culture of zapping and immediacy is now shared by the majority of us. We run and hurry to try and catch up with the sands of time when in fact speed is often counter-productive, especially when negotiating with someone hellbent on getting the best deal. Indeed, who doesn’t regret this one time when they rushed to grant concessions to a buyer who was just taking their mark?

Time is a key factor in negotiations, but only one among many. You need to know how to address it, just like other key factors for success, with distance and objectivity. In some cases, you should slow down the pace, whereas in others, you had better bring things to a more hasty conclusion. In any event, try detaching yourself from the pressure of time and turning into additional efficiency.

Good negotiators in a hurry simply do not exist!




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Pride too is an ugly sin when negotiating. I’m pretty sure you’ve already conducted an interview with a buyer looking down on you with condescension, arrogance and the self-satisfied aplomb of those who consider themselves above the fray. Quite annoying, isn’t?

While buyers are prone to fall into this trap, keep in mind that sellers are even more liable to it. However, this attitude from buyers can also be good news for sellers.

Whenever the ego starts taking up too much space in the mind of sales reps, mistakes and weak positions are just around the corner. For ultimately, when negotiating, who is most at risk? The person who is more comfortable and self-assured, or the one who clearly is not? The best sales reps know that the one who should feel perfectly at ease is the person sitting in front of them. If that person wants to “act smart” … well, so be it!

One must pretend to be a pig to kill the tiger

Chinese proverb




Pêchers capitaux de la négociation - Le grand Blog de la vente - la peur

In her international bestseller Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway! Susan Jeffers denounced the perverse effects of fear. Here’s how she introduced her book: “Fear seems to be an epidemic in our society. We fear beginnings, we fear endings. We fear changing, we fear ‘staying stuck’. We fear success, we fear failure. We fear living, we fear dying.”

In sales, we’re talking about the fear of failing and losing a deal. I’m sure that you personally experienced this type of fear on numerous occasions. Now do the following experiment: Analyse objectively the results of your last ten negotiations. Looking back, did you most of the time:

  • Overestimated your negotiating power. In this case you took a risk a little too strong which made you miss the deal.
  • Underestimated your negotiating power. In this case you agreed to sell at prices below those you could have claimed.

So? What is your answer? Typically, the majority of participants in our negotiation seminars recognize that they underestimate their capacities much more often than not. Translation: a lot of rate concessions granted with no real justification.

“They always say one should never hit a man when he’s down…

But when then?”

Woody Allen





Pêchers capitaux de la négociation - Le grand Blog de la vente - la naïveté

Naivety is often the product of failing to take a step back in order to assess the situation. Sales reps are overly focused on their goal and blinded by their desire to close the deal. So much so that they forget to put things into perspective and analyse calmly what they are being told or offered. If they did, they would perhaps realize that they are consenting to unacceptable demands wrapped in a friendly package.

“Win-win” is a rather nice concept at first glance. But upon closer inspection, the definitions proposed for it often sound like shortcuts for compromise. I’m not saying you should never compromise, only that it is not a good place to start from. There’s a step customers love to see taken by nice vendors still believing in fairy-tales. You know, the type of children’s stories that go like this: “We are looking for a long-term partner to work with on the basis of a fair and sustainable agreement for both parties.”

The problem with this sort of statement is that the apparent kindness of the approach can conceal rather unusual definitions of what should be understood as “fair”. Besides, I think it is always healthy to ask yourself some questions when someone feels compelled to tell you that they have no intention of ripping you off. As in: “Trust me, I’m an honest person.” Personally, I had my worst professional experiences with this kind of people.

In negotiations, the naivety of some makes the happiness of others!


So we’ve gone through a first overview of the main negotiation sins you should avoid. If you want to know more about them and, more specifically, learn how to make them work in your favor, feel free to contact us.




Good luck with your business!

Nicolas Caron





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