Grinding to a Halt: The Art of Killing a Deal

Everyone wants a piranha.

Whether a professional athlete intent on a signing bonus the size of Madagascar, a victim of a vicious fender bender fixated on the 2.8 million dollar legal prescription for a tender neck or a home buyer/seller whose sole purpose on this earth at the immediate moment is to grind as many Ben Franklins as possible out of the guy on the other side of a negotiation, aggressiveness is typically the hallmark virtue in the professional representation that is sought.

The sports super agent, who we are 95% certain has a life-sized portrait of his bare chested self wearing a boa constrictor around suspiciously well tanned shoulders hanging in his posh downtown office, is universally loathed by all.  Secretly, however, we all know he’d be the only guy we’d call if we needed to make a cash withdrawal from the abundant posterior of a team owner.

The weaselly ambulance chaser with the slicked back, Grecian Formula enhanced locks is similarly unlikely to find himself on the guest lists of many Bat Mitzvahs and baby showers.  That narcissistic predator might eat the baby.  When we spill the drive-thru coffee in our laps or stumble over the “Watch Your Step!” sign at a public establishment, though, he’s the guy we call.

Amicable folks are great to have around, but when the conversation turns to business, we don’t want Mary Poppins going into battle on our behalf armed only with a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.  We’d rather employ the services of Dr. Jekyll to go all Mr. Hyde on the opposition and cram that spoon straight down their throats.

Easy, tiger.

There is a time to kill, and there is a time to frolic.  The problem with the constant grinder is that he often grinds himself right out of a transaction.  It is critical that you leave the other guy with some dignity at the end of a tough negotiation, lest all of your efforts collapse under the weight of the other party’s exhaustion.  After you’ve knocked the poor bloke to the ground and bloodied his nose, do the smart thing.  Extend your hand and help him up.

In practical terms, this is akin to finally saying “yes” after repeated “no’s.”  When you win on the key points, you are often in a position to make a small concession on some trivial tangential issue.  Too many times, I see lost opportunities for a clear victor to score easy diplomatic points at these junctures in the waning moments of a deal.  Want the inspection and other critical aspects of the transaction yet to come to go smoothly?  Give up something that isn’t really necessary.  Offer something minor, but unexpected.

You’ve bitten his neck on price, drank his blood on terms … time to give him a transfusion unless you want to carry his Doppelganger the rest of the way to closing.  For the record, undead weight is quite heavy.

Of course, because you are reading my blog, this advice assumes you were on the dispensing end of said treatment throughout the course of the initial negotiation.  If you were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end, go ahead and drive a wooden stake through the SOB’s black heart.

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  • Some people relish “the kill” so much that they forget that their clients might be okay with a compromise.

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Paul Slaybaugh is here to sell houses and chew bubble gum. He's all out of bubble gum. More About Me >>>

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