Walking Away from a Sale

by Ed Brodow


Ed Brodow, Business Negotiation Expert

Excerpted from Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict,
Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals
by Ed Brodow.

Brodow's Law of Negotiation states: Always be willing to walk away! If you are too anxious to close a sale, you lose your ability to say NO to unreasonable buyer demands. Don't place yourself in a position where you accept a less than satisfactory outcome, just to close a deal.

Your willingness to walk away can help you to close a sale. Here's how:

1. Walking away may force the buyer to soften its position.

In one eye-opening situation, I received a call from the CEO of an East Coast high tech company.

"I'm looking for the keynote speaker for my upcoming conference," he said. "You were recommended. You have three minutes to tell me why I should hire you!"

Something about his brusque manner irritated me. I decided not to do business with him.

"Actually," I replied, "I'm very busy right now, and I don't think I'm the right speaker for your group anyway. You better find someone else."

He quickly went from curt to pleading.

"What do you mean?" he said. "You have an excellent reputation. Why won't you speak for us?"

My willingness to turn him away broke down his obnoxious attitude. I was hired – without having to justify my qualifications or put up with this man's rude behavior.

2. Your willingness to walk away demonstrates your commitment.

Savvy negotiators are always testing you to see how committed you are to your position. In order to convince them, you may have to resort to strong measures – including walking out. Otherwise, the buyer may continue to believe that you will offer more concessions. When the buyer sees that you are totally committed to your position, he will back down and you will close a profitable sale.

This lesson was lasered onto my consciousness during my corporate sales career, when one of my prospective clients reneged on a promise to sign our contract. Without saying a word, I packed up my briefcase and walked out of his office.

"Where are you going?" he called after me.

"I'm leaving," I said. "You lied to me and I don't want to do business with you."

He chased me all the way to the elevator bank and begged me to return. He knew he had pushed me as far as I would go, and he agreed to sign the contract.

Afterwards, he asked me, "Ed, if I hadn't followed you, would you have come back?"

"I guess you'll never know," I told him.

3. Walking away can help the buyer sell your position to their boss.

Buyers may have to justify their concessions to someone higher up on the food chain. Now they can tell the boss, "See, we had to make those concessions or the seller would have walked away from the deal."

Let me make this clear: I am not saying that you should always walk away from a sale. But if you don't even consider the option of walking away from the negotiation, you may be inclined to cave in to the buyer's demands simply to make a deal.

You must be prepared to say "Next!" or your customers will sense your uncertainty. The willingness to walk away from a sale comes from having other potential sales in the lineup. When you know that your sales career doesn't hinge on this one deal, you can exude confidence. If you are not desperate – if you recognize that you have other options – the buyer will sense your inner strength. Your willingness to walk away is one of the greatest bargaining chips you have.


Ed Brodow is a keynote speaker and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals. For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail ed@brodow.com, and visit http://www.brodow.com.



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