Big Talk

Description:  Big Talk is the opposite of small talk — not bragging.  Get into the habit of asking big-picture questions that get the other side talking about their business philosophy, industry view, and longer term goals.

Some negotiators focus too narrowly on transactional points like price, quantity, and terms.  Obviously this is great information to have, but it really doesn’t help you build relationships or generate creative variables.

Here are some examples of non-threatening but tactically appropriate “big talk” questions:

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

How do you define a successful partnership?  

What do you see as the strength and weakness of firms operating in your space? 

What are the biggest challenges facing companies in this space?  How can we help each other overcoming these headwinds?

What are your plans for expansion and growth?  Do you anticipate operating markets ?

Intent:  Gather information and further the relationship-building process.

Style:  Collaborative

Counter:  No counter is necessary if you are serious about building a relationship with the counterparty.  If, however, you fear that he is merely pumping you for free information, then you have three options.  First, you can make it clear you are interested only in a one-off transaction and would prefer to stick to the business at hand.  Your second option is to turn your technical or commercial know-how into a variable that you will leverage in the negotiation.  Finally, if his line of questioning is too specific or focuses on sensitive competitive issues, you may take this as an indicator that you should break off this negotiation and look for a more appropriate counterparty.

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