When it comes to doing business, consistency is important. Consistency is highly valued and is associated with honesty, integrity, stability, and even intelligence. Most of us will go to great lengths to consistently fulfill our commitments. Why? Because on the contrary, few people want to deal with a counterpart that has a reputation for acting inconsistently and not fulfilling their commitments. In terms of negotiating, good sales professionals know that if they can get a small commitment from a customer, that customer’s natural tendency will be to move forward and fulfill that commitment. As a result, good negotiators focus intently on what they are being locked into and how tightly it binds. While it is a necessary component of any negotiation, it is critical to manage your level of commitment. Consider the following tips to avoid overcommitting during a negotiation.
- Determine Your WAP (walk-away point) Prior to the Negotiation
Negotiations can be stressful, especially if you are negotiating with a professional. It is common for people to buckle under the pressure and end up committing to something they don’t really want. For this reason, every negotiator should determine their WAP before walking into the negotiation. This is extremely important because it prevents you from making a commitment that you either can’t fulfill or that isn’t beneficial to you.
- Don’t Commit Too Quickly
Once made, commitments may limit your ability to negotiate further- for this reason you want to avoid committing too early. A skilled negotiator will try to lock you in and bind you as tightly as possible. Permitting yourself to commit too quickly could prevent potential flexibility. Only commit when you feel confident that you are getting the best possible deal and there is no additional need to counteroffer.
- Understand the Terms of Your Commitment
It may sound obvious but all too often people commit to deals without fully understanding the parameters of the deal. Before agreeing to anything, be sure you know exactly what you are committing to up to the last detail. Expert negotiators might try to lure you in without fully disclosing minute details and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Ask questions and repeat back the terms of the deal to be sure you fully understand your commitment.