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Making Last Minute Demands in Difficult Negotiations: What Might it Cost Really?

The controversial tactic of making a last-minute demand in a sales negotiation was raised during a training event I delivered recently.

One More Thing...

Remember the classic line from Columbo?

1 of the cohort recalled a recent experience with a prospect making a last-minute demand before signing up for her company's service.

She was reluctant but felt she had no choice as she'd already committed that deal in Q4 to her sales manager - a compelling event all of its own.

This got me thinking about a number of high-profile incidents where a significant demand has been made at the last minute.

It's not something I condone and here's why:

In my sales coaching, I often talk about the concept of "the pound seat". The pound seat is where you as the salesperson have the power in a negotiation, rather than the buyer as is often - but not always - the case in a negotiation.

Being in the pound seat makes you relatively powerful in a negotiation.

Power, however, can be used both constructively or it can be misused - whether intentionally or unintentionally.

It struck me that Alok Sharma's impossible position in the dying seconds of COP26 (more on this later) was the perfect example of making a last-minute demand with the aim of forcing the other side to accept because they have no other choice.

The Law of Unintended Outcomes

But what might be the unintended outcome of making that last-minute demand?

Let me ask you this: What would happen if someone put you in that position? If they made a last-minute demand of you knowing the whole world was watching and that you would have to concede because there was no time left to negotiate.

How would that make you feel?

Not easy to answer that question if you've never been put in that position before.

The very next day after the sales training session, Qatar announced a last-minute demand of Fifa, banning the consumption of alcohol in or around the stadium.

Just two days before Qatar faces Ecuador in the opening match of the world cup, the country changed its mind about allowing supporters to buy alcohol from stalls outside the stadium.

Fear not though, alcohol is still available to premium corporate hospitality customers at the stadiums - boxes cost around £19,000 per game - so, hey, if that's you, no problem!

Their country, their rules I guess.

How the world responds to this last-minute demand, only time will tell.

But here's the thing, if you're an organisation that's spent zillions preparing a bid to supply your stuff to a major customer, you'll presumably want to be able to sell more of your stuff to that customer later on.

In this case, the product is the broadcast rights for the 2022 World

Cup. The customer group ultimately footing the bill for these rights are those 3.5 billion people around the world who want to watch those football matches on TV.

Ideally, you'd want to make the event an outstanding success; so much of a success, that other sports event organisers queue around the block in the hope you'll want to host their events too.

But, if you've earned a reputation for making surprise demands (or u-turns in this case) of your key stakeholders at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, you could find that, whilst you got your own way last time, there might not be a next time for quite some time (if you "get" me).

After all:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me

The U-Turn only affects football fans around the stadiums, so no big deal, right?

Right here, right now, at this moment, then probably yes. Longer term, however, only time will tell.

Remember Alok Sharma at COP26?

Imagine the scene.

You're the Minister in Charge of Climate Change and your country is hosting the biggest climate conference ever.

You've secured a historic agreement from over a hundred nations and you're standing beside the stage ready to make your big announcement.

The whole world watches you with bated breath.

Suddenly, 1 of your key stakeholders makes a significant last-minute demand - they want to materially water down the wording of your statement.

You will understandably feel ambushed and resentful. They have left you with no choice but to accept their demand.

Will you ever be able to trust them again?

So, that person, that organisation, gets their own way this time.

Back to that salesperson and those "last minute demands" made of her.

She said she felt taken advantage of; her prospect knew the end of that supplier's financial year was imminent and that she would probably need this deal.

Right then, right there, at that moment, the prospect made a last-minute demand and they knew the salesperson would have to agree to this demand to get the deal done in time.

It's an issue of Trust between the buyer and the seller.

Trust is a 2-way thing. It works both ways. The buyer needs to be able to trust the salesperson but, equally, the salesperson needs to be able to trust the buyer too.

The rules of sales and selling have changed. Have you?

I hope you found this sales piece interesting and informative - If it rings any bells and you’d like to know more about how Sales Marvel can help transform yours or your team’s sales skills, get in touch:

I’d love to hear from you.

Useful Links

Enterprise Works with the University of York

Help to Grow: Management from Birmingham City Business School

You May Have Missed

  • 3 Top Tips to Adapt to Changing Markets here

  • How NOT to Manage Your Stakeholders here

  • The True Measure of Successful Relationships here

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