Giving Concessions is Not Negotiating

Giving Concessions is Not Negotiating

Master negotiators make sure their counterpart walks away from the table feeling like a winner. And they do so with a minimum of concessions.

Yet, the paradox is that sellers who give away huge concessions easily, will end up with an unhappy prospect who harbors some vague, inexplicable sense that he’s been cheated.

Giving concessions is not negotiating. Marking up the price and then giving concessions is not negotiating. It’s capitulation. It is not negotiation.

One of my clients (we’ll call him Marty) once described to me a deal he’d done with a government agency. Marty said he felt like he’d been raked over the coals and given away the farm. But when the deal was finally signed, the buyer was visibly unhappy.

Marty said he’d given them everything they’d asked for. In fact, he’d given them more than he was comfortable with, and yet they were somehow disappointed. It was bizarre, he told me. They should have been thrilled. Instead, now a customer, they’ve been a thorn in his side ever since.

The Negotiating Paradox

If a buyer asks for a discount and is immediately rewarded, he will be surprised, disappointed, then maybe suspicious, and finally quite possibly angry.


Because the value is immediately diminished in the buyer’s eyes. The buyer may ask themself, “Why would he give that up so easily and so quickly? It must be worthless.”

So they conclude that they must get more concessions and the squeezing begins. Worse, the buyer is now unsure if they can trust you.

If you want to maintain trust, and enhance the value of your solicitation, you must never give up anything too early or without a fight; and especially not anything valuable.

Savvy software buyers will often measure success based on how much of a fight they got, and how difficult the struggle. If a seller makes the buyer work hard for an inch, the buyer will appreciate the inch more than the yard that was conceded without a struggle. If he has to work to get concessions, he’ll feel like a big winner. The seller must keep the buyer invested in the process, and then eventually relent. The buyer will be delighted. It’s a game after all.

If you or your team need a coach to help improve your game, consider negotiation training.