6Sales Negotiation Rule One: Win First, Then Negotiate

The first and most important rule of sales negotiation is: win first and then negotiate. In other words, avoid negotiating price, terms, and conditions until the buyer or stakeholder group has selected you as their vendor of choice (VOC).

Until that point, you are not negotiating. You may be dealing with objections, waging a bidding war with your competitors, giving away all of your leverage for free, or making one-sided concessions as you negotiate with yourself. But you are not negotiating.

Negotiation begins after the sales process ends and begins when the buyer or stakeholder group has selected you as the VOC.

Once the stakeholders have chosen you, it dramatically changes their motivation curve. It brings down emotional walls and turns the opaque transparent. It makes it easier to gain consensus on a deal. Most importantly, stakeholders are much more likely to see the deal through to an outcome—reducing the probability that it stalls in your pipeline.

Winning first makes it easier for you to maintain emotional control, exude relaxed yet assertive confidence, get what you want, and close the sale.


Jason presented his proposal for the contract renewal to the vice president of operations and her team on a Monday morning. He’d been the account manager for this customer for the past four years. It was a key account and losing it to a competitor would be devastating to his commission check and his region. There ...

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