Let The Other Side Go First

Jeff Cochran


One of the keys to successfully negotiating any deal is letting the other side go first. It gives you a parameter to work from and provides insight as to what the other side is thinking. Letting them go first gives you the upper hand so you can negotiate better. But how exactly do you get the other side to go first? You can’t just say, “Go first.  I said so.”There needs to be a strategy. Consider the following next time you are stuck in this situation.

  • Defer to the other side’s expertise: Say something like, “You’ve done more deals of this type than we have. What
    are going terms in similar deals? What’s fair?”
  • Turn discussions into offers: Once you start talking, the other side is likely to give enough information to suggest an offer even if they don’t make one formally. Probe their thoughts, fleshing out more and more details. Then paraphrase what they’ve said as an offer.
  • Force a counteroffer bid: If it appears there’s nowhere to go in the negotiations, ask the other side where they want to go. “You say the list price is too steep. What price could you afford?”
  • Make a tangential first offer: Offer something important the other side wants in exchange for something more important to you. “We know your company wants to ship fast while the produce is fresh. We can take delivery immediately, if the per pound is right.”
  • Set a range without making a first offer: Use exploratory conversation to learn what the other side expects. “Say, I’ve heard houses in this neighborhood sell for as little as $200,000.” There’s no risk. It’s just what you’ve “heard”. See what kind of response you get. It should give you a price range of their first offer.

Still don’t think it’s important to let the other side go first? Read this story told by Dean Jernigan, Chairman of Storage USA. It
is highlighted in the book “The Power of NICE” by Ron Shapiro, Mark Jankowski, and Jim Dale.

A piece of property was for sale on the Mississippi River. Its original purchase price was $3 million. The property had sat, unused and undeveloped, for years. One day, a potential buyer from a Los Angeles entertainment company asked for a meeting.  The property owner’s lawyer was sent to negotiate the deal with explicit instructions. “Let them make the first offer but take nothing less than $4 million.” The prospective buyer started the meeting with a simple statement. “We are not going to negotiate. Our offer is $20 million and if you are not willing to accept it, we are prepared to walk.” It turned out, the entertainment company was betting on a future legalized gambling boom to increase land values and, therefore, thought $20
million was a “fair” price. Of course, so did the property owner’s lawyer who only had one regret. He hadn’t handled the case on a contingency basis.

Sitting Down With Sharon Sudduth

Jeff Cochran


We recently spoke with one of the longest tenured employees at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, Sharon Sudduth.  She shared with us some of the changes SNI has undergone over the years as well as a new initiative she has been involved with.

How long have you been at SNI and how is the company different now than when you first arrived?

I have been at SNI since 1999 so 13 years.  I don’t think our goals or mission is different, but we’re a lot more organized.
We have a greater focus which allows us to give more attention to the clients.  Some of this is because we have a lot more processes in place than when I first came on board.  Technology has also become huge.  We use emails, servers, and clouds on a regular basis.  It’s really streamlined our day-to-day operations.

You take on a lot of different responsibilities around the office.  Can you explain what roles you have?

I manage the administrative duties, the finances, H&R, and IT.  I wear a lot of hats but it’s a small office so that’s to be expected.

What is the best part of your job and what’s the most frustrating?

The best part is that I have my fingers in everything.  Since I’m involved in so many parts of the company, I know what’s going on at all times.  At the same time, the most frustrating part is that I know what’s going on at all times.  Sometimes I see people doing things differently than I would do them, but I have to let them do it their way because I have so many other tasks to take care of.

SNI’s been able to get new business from a number of their service providers.  How has this happened and how have you been involved?

This was something we started last year.  We decided that we want to engage our service providers in mutually beneficial partnerships.  I had a bank approach me to ask for our business.  I explained the concept we were trying to implement and as a result we were able to engage in a partnership.  That led us to do about 20 programs with them last year and a few more this year. This year we are budgeting to get new copiers.  We want to get them from a company that we can partner with.  We have been in talks with one company and so far it has gone well.

Listening With Our E.A.R.

Jeff Cochran


When a person is under pressure or in a difficult situation, their emotions can start to get the best of them.  Even the best solution to their problem may be missed because they are so caught up in the situation.  The best way to deal with this situation is to downshift emotions as much as possible so that positive progress is possible.  To do this you need to use your E.A.R.  It will help defuse some of the emotions so a solution to the problem can be found.

Empathize: Let the other person know that you recognize that he or she is under emotional stress or pressure and that you’ve been in similarly difficult situations.

Ask: Take the time to ask a couple of nonthreatening questions to gain valuable information and to let the other person vent his or her emotions

Reassure: Let the other person know that you believe, in time or with remedies, the situation will defuse and/or improve.

Follow this simple acronym and you will be ready to overcome the emotional obstacles of others.