AKA: All over now. I’m outta here.
Description: It’s the biggest power move. You are ending the negotiation. Someone has just said “Take It Or Leave It” (it doesn’t really matter if it was you or him) and now it’s time to go. Do it the right way.
Boss tip: Your approach should be: I’m not walking away from you – I’m walking to another counter-party with a better deal.
Intent: Terminate the negotiation - or at least make him think you are willing to.
Category: Counter, Value manager
PIFH (Power/influence Fear or Hope): Power if it is not a bluff - Fear if it is.
Variation: Slow Walkaway aka: One Foot Negotiation, Last Chance
Description: A bluff. You are walking away slowly and somewhat encouragingly. You want to be called back.
Intent: Get one last serious concession.
When you do it right, it’s the ultimate power move. If you do it wrong, you can destroy your credibility and relationship.
The world is divided into two negotiating camps – those that love the idea of the dramatic, stormy Walk Away, and those who dread it as an embarrassing failure. Walk Away isn’t always your idea, but sometimes you have to do it. Other times, you will have to respond to a counter-party who is getting up from the table.
There are two approaches to the Walkaway – the tactical (Slow Walkaway) and the strategic (you pursue other options). They are supposed to look the same, but there is a fundamental difference. The tactical or Slow Walkaway is a Bluff, designed to break a deadlock or win specific concessions. You plan on coming back to the table. The strategic Walkaway is your way of terminating this negotiation. One of you has said Take It Or Leave It (TIOLI) and now you have to move one. If you were contemplating a strategic Walkaway, then you would be best off mentioning your options and alternatives early.
Either way you go, prepare for conflict and ill feelings to escalate quickly – sometimes suddenly. This can get very emotional – so it’s important to have a plan.
The Mechanics (how to Walk Away the right way)
- Smile. You’re not angry, stressed, or upset. You've planned for this. Keep it professional.
- Speak with one voice. Sync up your team and home office BEFORE you start negotiating. Know your trigger.
- Make it easy to come back if he makes a concession.
- Head for the door. Slowly, but with resolve. No looking back.
- Once you leave, keep walking (until you have a reason to stop.)
Smile. Tempers fray and emotions can heat up. Good negotiators remember that it’s just business. If the time comes to leave the table, maintain a professionally cordial demeanor. This is easier said then done – but it’s also much more important than you may think. Conflict kills deals, and the Walkway can lead to conflict.
Sync up. Speak with one voice. If you are negotiating for someone else, make sure they’ll support you if you walk away. If you are running a team, arrange a signal in advance. Nothing undercuts your authority faster than chaos and dissension when you are trying to terminate.
Leave the Door Open. Make it easy to come back if he makes a concession. You get to come back to the table ONCE. If you say, “the numbers just don’t work” you leave the door
open. If you say, “you numbskulls are just jerks” then you can’t come back. Ever.
No Drama. Once you commit to a walk away, you should follow through. Head for the door. Don’t storm out -- don’t dawdle timidly. Visualize your next meeting with a new counter-party. Serious people say “goodbye” once, and then go.
Keep Walking. Don’t return unless the situation changes. He will appeal to reason, to intelligence, and to the relationship. If there is no concession, then you can’t go back. Tell him you’ll be happy to speak with him in the future, but at this point it is best to move on.
Walk Away as Strategy – BATNA looks better.
If a deal has to die, sooner is always almost better than later. While some negotiators like to dig in and hope for a breakthrough, others find the cost in terms of time, money, and opportunity are just too high. Another factor to consider is that you are giving away potentially valuable information every moment you’re engaged. This is not a big deal if you are selling real estate – but a VERY big deal if you are selling technology or solutions.
Walk Away as Tactic – Bluffing for leverage
The Slow Walkaway. Merely threatening to leave the table can shake the tree for more concessions or it can break an impasse. As a bluff, however, the Walkaway is a high-pressure tactic, and an aggressive power play. It can also be a desperate final try before to avert failure. It’s a high-risk move – you may blow the deal, or you may undermine your reputation. Fake Walkaways can kill a relationship.
The tactical Walkaway can be very useful for changing the process. You can get new faces from his side, from your own, change the process of negotiating (from face to face to email), and buy you the time and space to reorient.