What is a win?

What is a win?

I read a lot of articles about negotiating / sales where the term win/win is invoked. We should seek a win/win resolution. It's only a good sale if there's a win/win. And so on and so forth. Now this is all good and well, and I certainly agree that both parties have to feel good about the outcome if there is to be a long-term, fruitful relationship. But here's my issue - what constitutes a win?

All of the win/win promoters talk as if a win is a concrete, definable thing, but it's not. A win is subjective. So subjective in fact that what a buyer feels is a win can change during the course of the negotiation. Someone buying a TV might start out thinking that a win is getting a new 50" TV for $1500, but by the end of the conversation believes that getting the  $2500 model with the latest tech is a win. This sale is a win/win, but the buyer spent more than they intended, highlighting what a completely ethereal and changeable thing a 'win' can be.

Does this mean you should forget about what the client wants? Of course not, there's no future in that approach. All I'm saying is that the focus on win/win tends to mesmerise salespeople and lead them in a direction where a win/win never happens, mostly because they end up giving away the store, ensuring their employer (who is also supposed to win in this scenario too) gets much less than they want, need or deserve. 

So the win/win is fine - it's how we approach the process of delivering this outcome that's the problem.

A true win/win only happens when a buyer pays a good price for a good product. This is the sweet spot where both buyer and seller get what they want, and it only tends to happen if the seller is a good negotiator. Bad negotiators give the buyer exactly what they want. This isn't a win/win. Giving the buyer the best product for the price of the worst product is a win/lose, and in most cases a great way for a seller to go broke.

I'll be posting on negotiating fundamentals over the next few weeks. Stay tuned if you want to read more, or message me if you have questions or want to chat about issues specific to your role/industry.

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