Negotiation – “Sleeves Out Of Your Vest”

Whether negotiating sales contracts, channel partnerships or strategic alliances, one of the primary elements of negotiation involves making concessions. Although often perceived negatively, negotiation should not be an onerous process in which you beat down and dominate the other party to win.
Making concessions by giving up something valued by the other party does not have to be painful. The following vignette illustrates a simple negotiation concept, commonly referred to as “sleeves-out-of-your-vest” that can be used to achieve an outcome in which both parties feel the are winners.

Many years ago, when my sons were in their teens, we went on a 100-mile backpacking trip with their Boy Scout Troop in the Sang de Christo Mountains in New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Ranch.


Since we were in the backcountry and dependent upon liquid fuel for the stoves to cook our meals, having the right amount of fuel was very important. At one point on our trek, the Scouts realized that they did not have enough fuel to prepare dinner and they came to their adult chaperones for advice. We talked about the options they had to address this challenge and left it to them to choose a course of action they felt was best. The approach the Scouts selected to pursue was to acquire fuel from another group camping in our area. But why would another group be willing to share to its valuable cooking fuel?


The Scouts reasoned that another group might be agreeable to sharing some of its fuel if they had something of value to trade with the other group. Ironically the Scouts selected an item that was of little value to them – mustard flavored pretzels – because they didn’t care for the taste and didn’t want them anyway. Armed with the pretzels and an empty fuel canister, the Scouts set off to find another group to bargain with. This was a risky approach since they did not know what might be valuable to another group. Fortunately in this negotiation, the Scouts met another group that did have extra fuel that they were willing to share. To our Scout’s delight, the group was very excited to trade fuel for the mustard pretzels. As a result, the negotiation went quickly with our Scouts acquiring the cooking fuel they needed in order to prepare dinner while the Scouts in the other group enjoyed their prized mustard pretzels.

The lesson the Scouts learned was that sometimes during negotiations, concessions that have little value to one party are highly valued by the other party. The key is to understand what the other party values and to determine the concessions you might be willing to make. In this vignette, both parties traded concessions of relatively low value to them but of very high value to the other party. Both walked away from the negotiation completely satisfied with the outcome because they both felt they came out winners on the best end of the deal.

Dave Dotzler is a consultant, coach and speaker on the topic of sales and revenue acceleration.

With over three decades of experience, Dave has build, led and enabled sales organizations responsible for delivering over $2.2 Billion for industry leading companies. He holds a Masters Degree in Business and serves on the Board Of Directors of the Tri-Valley Consultants Forum.
Dave works with high-growth companies to help them overcome sales pain and achieve sales gain to accelerate sales and revenue success.


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