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negotiation head trips

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Negotiation Head Trips

Negotiation head trips can take you down a dark hole that can not only jeopardize your deals but also your future. If you’d like more control over the negotiation process, stay tuned for my next guest, he’s the author of Negotiating From the Inside Out with some fascinating tips for how to neutralize those nasty negotiation head trips and win more often.

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What You’ll Discover About Negotiation Head Trips (highlights & transcript):

Negotiation from the Inside Out* The 3 types of negotiators [01:04]

* How to rate yourself as a negotiator [03:17]

* The different types of negotiation head trips [07:40]

* The “Your competition is cheaper” tactic [08:31]

* The “Flinch” tactic [09:17]

* The “Contract fait accompli” tactic [09:39]

* The “Escalation” tactic [10:28]

* The Karpman drama triangle of negotiation head trips [11:27]

* Effective tactics for neutralizing negotiation head trips [14:53]

* Most common and easiest negotiation mistakes [20:51]

* And MUCH more.


Hanna Hasl-Kelchner:  [00:00:00.21] Negotiation head trips can take you down a dark hole that can not only jeopardize your deals, but also your future. If you’d like more control over your negotiation process, stay tuned for my next guest. He’s the author of Negotiating from the Inside Out, and he’s got some fascinating tips for how to neutralize those nasty negotiation head trips so that you can come out ahead more often.


Announcer:           [00:00:00.21] This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matter to your bottom line.


Hanna:                   [00:00:35.64] Welcome to Business Confidential Now. My name is Hanna Hasl-Kelchner and today’s guest is Mr. Clint Babcock. He’s helped hundreds of sales teams and thousands of salespeople to improve performance and retain margin by improving their negotiation skills. He’s a Sandler-certified trainer with a degree in finance and takes pride in keeping himself, his clients and students numbers-focused.


Hanna:                   [00:00:58.59] I love that results orientation, and I want to welcome him by starting off with the first question.




Hanna:                   [00:01:04.23] You know, negotiations can be a high stakes game. Sometimes it’s easy to get taken for a ride. And I’ve heard you say that there’s three types of negotiators:  the amateur negotiator, the tactical negotiator, and the strategic negotiator. Would you help me and my listeners understand the difference between them?


Clint Babcock:       [00:01:24.35] Yeah, yeah, sure will. Before I get into that, here’s what I ask when I’m – when I’m working with a team or a group of people. I’ll say, “Hey, as it relates to your negotiation intelligence, how much do you know? What do you know about negotiating, you know? And what have you read? What have you dived into? What have you studied? What have you practiced?” and usually by the look on their faces, I can already tell where they fall, you know?


Clint:                     [00:01:50.48] Because if I see the person that’s pondering the question and thinking about it, they’re the amateur buyer or they’re the amateur negotiator, right? This person is someone that doesn’t negotiate very often. Every now and then, once or twice a year, they go to buy something, they might try to negotiate a little bit but they don’t have a process.


Clint:                     [00:02:08.93] They don’t – they don’t look at it as a – as a skill set. It’s just something that happens. Now, the tactical negotiator, this is a person that has read a little bit about it, has some skill set, has maybe taken maybe a course and does it on a regular basis. So this – these people you typically find as the – maybe in the C-level with an organization or has some semblance of purchasing things for a company.


Clint:                     [00:02:37.22] But then you got the strategic negotiator. This is the one that has studied it, probably knows more than you, has looked at it as this is one of their greatest skill sets, knows how-to to use the gambits against you in order to – to negotiate. And – and I say against you but I really mean with you. In other words, you know, let’s face it, what we’re after is – is a partnership through this and that strategic negotiator knows how to make you feel good while they’re getting their agenda and getting the things that they’re looking for in the negotiation while taking care of you along the way.




Hanna:                   [00:03:17.69] All right, now, when you have an audience in front of you, you say that based on the expressions on their face, you can tell like what category they fall into. All right, but I can’t see my own expression. [Laughter] So, how do I know where I fall in? I mean, you know, everybody basically believes that they’re more skilled and capable than others, you know, like, “Oh, I’m a safe driver.” Yeah, well, everybody says that, you know? [Laughter] So, how – how do I figure out where I fit? I mean, genuinely and authentically, honestly, you know, because maybe in some circumstances I could be one type of negotiator and in another like, “Nah, not so much.” So, how do I figure it out?


Clint:                     [00:04:01.52] All right. So, a couple of ways. Let me – let me give you a few things. So, the reason why the – the book is entitled Negotiating from the Inside Out is because it starts internally. And in one of the first chapters, I’d put five behaviors in there that really people have to look at themselves to kind of start figuring out,


Clint:                     [00:04:22.67] “Okay, how am I wired for negotiations?” And – and I – and I’ll list them off really quick and then I’ll give you a quick understanding of them. Conflict. How do you deal with conflict, right? Do you retreat or do you – are you very comfortable with conflict? So, if somebody was trying to figure out, “Well, hey, how am I with – as a negotiator?”


Clint:                     [00:04:40.49] If you’re more of the, “I am a conflict avoidance kind of person,” then you probably don’t like negotiating. If you’re more of the type of person that, “Hey, I kind of am the one that causes conflict from time to time, I’m very comfortable with it,” then you’re going to be okay with that. The other is assertiveness. Are you, you know, assertive? Are you more – a little bit more aggressive? Are you more reserved? If you are more on the assertive side, then you’ll take on the negotiation.


Clint:                     [00:05:08.60] Ego. Ego is another one. Are you more, you know, a little bit self-deprecating or do you like the recognition and you even engineer it sometimes? Competitiveness. Here’s the question I ask when I get to this, “Hey, on a scale of zero to 10, how competitive are you?” And you know, there’s a lot of people that’d be like, “Yeah, I’m not really competitive.”


Clint:                     [00:05:27.68] Yeah, okay, it’s not a bad thing. It just means that, well, in the face of negotiations, you might be okay with not winning versus somebody that’s like, “Oh man, I’m a 10. I’m that hate to lose kind of person.”


Clint:                     [00:05:40.16] And then last is emotional composure. You know, are you – if you’re too highly emotional, that’s not good because that hijacks your – your ability to reason and it hijacks your intellect. If you’re more controlled in your negotiations and when you deal with those kind of pressure situations, then you’re going to be able to think more clearly and you’ll be better. So – so I guess, Hanna, I’ll kick it back to you and just say, hey, out of those, how would you rate yourself and what would you think?




Hanna:                   [00:06:08.66] [Laughter] You’re asking me to rate myself?


Clint:                     [00:06:12.44] You know, or just overall as you put those together, what do you – you know? Probably – you know, a lot of people say, “Hey, I’m good in one area but maybe not in the other,” you know, and – and that’s – and that’s fair. So that’s why I say look at the inside. You know, how are you when you’re put in in a negotiation situation, and if you know how you’re wired there, that’s where it starts. And then it’s – go ahead.


Hanna:                   [00:06:31.99] Well, yeah. But I – yeah, I think it also makes a difference as to what’s at stake. You know, if you’ve got a really major thing – I mean, I’m not sure what you know about my background but I practiced law for a number of years and managed a lot of litigation where there was a lot of negotiation because very few cases do go to trial. They get settled and it is a negotiation.


Hanna:                   [00:06:54.12] So, sometimes it’s easy to walk and sometimes it’s not. It depends what you’re – what you want your outcome to be, and then, you know, how you get there. So – but then there are situations where I may not care because not in a work situation when I was practicing law, but at a personal capacity where it’s like I could take it or leave it, let me see if I can push it. If I can, great. If I can’t, okay, well, have a nice day, [Laughter] you know, that kind of thing.


Hanna:                   [00:07:19.78] And, you know, but then there – there may be certain – certain circumstances where I will win. So, you know, it – I think it depends on the context and how much is at stake, how much you can afford to lose, how much you can afford to compromise. I think it really depends.




Hanna:                   [00:07:40.24] You know, you mentioned something earlier in an answer where you talked about gambits, gambits being used against you. And I think in your book, you actually have a chapter about that. I mean, these to me sound like Negotiation Head Trips Central; you know, gambits, the little head trips people play, you know, let’s see what happens here. Let me poke, prod, what have you.


Hanna:                   [00:08:02.95] Could you share a few of the most common gambits? And so we don’t get taken on one of those negotiation head trips.


Clint:                     [00:08:11.40] Yeah, of – of course, and here’s the part where if you – if you see somebody else’s moves, think about it. Whether it’s chess or stealing signals or something like that, if you can see what somebody is doing, you’re going to be so much better against it. So, you know – so what I did in the book was outline about a dozen of these.




Clint:                     [00:08:31.17] We call them the dealmakers’ dozen. And it’s being able to recognize what’s being played against you, and then you can put your system and your negotiation process to it. So, a few of the most common ones, you know, especially in the business world, right? “Hey, we really like your proposal, but your competition is cheaper,” right?


Clint:                     [00:08:54.72] You – you know, you got to recognize what is that designed to do? You know, if – if the amateur, you know, professional or the amateur salesperson goes, “Oh, okay, well – well, where do I need to be?” you’re done. You just lost that negotiation, right? You know, because that’s a gambit they’d use to put, you know, pricing competition out there in front of you, and you don’t know how to – how to handle it.




Clint:                     [00:09:17.25] Another one is the flinch, right? The slight emotional response when they hear pricing or terms or something where it’s – it, you know, makes you almost feel like you offended them, right? So that’s an absolute great move. You see that on Pawn Stars all the time. That’s a great way to just kind of pick up on some things.




Clint:                     [00:09:39.84] Here’s one that I’ve trained some attorneys before and this is one that they’ve – that they’d actually say, “Yeah, we use this from time to time.” It’s called fait accompli. Fait accompli, it means already done, which is basically a way of doing up a contract or – or in the business world, here’s what it might be. You sent a proposal over a contract. The other side red lines it, changes some things, signs the deal and sends it back, right? And – and it just means already done.


Clint:                     [00:10:08.10] So now, what does a potential professional or sales professional do? “Hey, I got a signed contract, but now the terms are different. The – the pricing might be different.” They change, you know, part of the scope, but now you’ve got a signed contract. But it was a good move on their part even though it’s not a valid contract.




Clint:                     [00:10:28.20] So, you know. And then the last one that I – that I’ll cover right now is – is escalation. Escalation you see a lot. This is the, “Hey Hanna, look, if – you know, if – if we do this, if we do this first deal together and you give me a really, really good deal on this one, look, I’ve got more opportunities for us to work together with other divisions, other departments,” blah blah blah.


Clint:                     [00:10:52.80] It’s basically making the deal seem so much bigger, but you got to do me, do me right this time, right? So, it’s – it’s that way of making us feel like, “Hey, if I just get my foot in the door, you know, with a lower price or a better, better offer, then I’m going to get a whole heck of a lot more business.” But unfortunately, what you just did is if you did that, you fell prey to that, you’ve now set your bar for them to do everything with moving forward.


Clint:                     [00:11:22.02] So those are the four kind of, I would say, some of the most popular ones that we see the most.





Hanna:                   [00:11:27.96] Yeah, most popular. I like that categorization. [Laughter] So, one thing that you mentioned in your book, which I think is really kind of interesting, is you discuss the Karpman drama triangle. Now, what exactly is this mama drama triangle and why should we care about it when it comes to these head trips?


Clint:                     [00:11:49.29] All right. So, so this – this goes back to what we touched on earlier about emotions, right? So Karpman’s triangle is – is also called the drama triangle and the best way that I – that I teach this and explain it, well, Hanna, would you happen to have a favorite superhero?


Hanna:                   [00:12:07.53] A favorite superhero? Oh, I – I don’t know. My husband is big on superheroes, and he’s torn right now between Kong and Godzilla. [Laughter] So, so let’s pick one. Let’s – let’s pick. I don’t know. Kong is a little bit more cuddly. I’ll go with Kong. King Kong


Clint:                     [00:12:25.62] With – well. All right, so King Kong is – I don’t know if I’d put him in that superhero category. Let’s take the easy one, right? You – you know, you pick whether it’s the Avengers, right? So, you could take any one of the Avengers. So – and – and – and the reason why this is called the drama triangle is in any drama, you have three roles that are being played out by the – by the actors and actresses.


Clint:                     [00:12:49.29] You have a persecutor, right? This is the person that’s trying to blow up the world. This is your – your – your Thanoses of the world in – in the – the Avengers series, right? This is somebody – you know, this is the archenemy. This is somebody that’s trying to persecute. Then you have a victim, or the victims, right? It could be the – the entire universe or galaxy or people or a place or what have you. So, you’ve got the persecutor, you have the victim.


Clint:                     [00:13:17.76] And then of course, that means you got to have a rescuer. That means you got to have the – the superhero. So, every single time you watch a superhero movie or you watch any kind of action drama kind of – kind of thing, you’ll see these three roles play out.


Clint:                     [00:13:35.91] And the idea is, is by understanding this is you don’t get pulled into this triangle and become one of those three roles, because if you do, you end up getting stuck into the drama triangle and you will shift and move roles throughout the conversation or throughout the negotiations, right?


[00:13:57.54] Think about it. A persecutor, hey, you know something, your – your pricing is just – just a lot higher than somebody else’s. If I fall prey into that and I fall either into the victim role or the rescuer role, neither one of those is going to be good, right? If I go, “Oh, hey, you know? You know, yeah, I know,” and now I get all wishy-washy or I try to rescue them and come back with a, “Well, you know something? Hey, you know? I’m – you know, let me talk to my boss. I’m sure there’s something we can do.”


Clint:                     [00:14:29.91] And now I jump into there instead of handling it as an adult and putting the system in play and not getting caught into that triangle where we’re going to be playing around with this. So hopefully that kind of frames it out.


Hanna:                   [00:14:46.80] All right. So, if we’re not going to get drawn into this Bermuda Triangle, how do we keep that from happening? How about some tips on that?




Clint:                     [00:14:53.46] There you go. So, here’s what we’re talking about as far as having a playbook, right? So, when I start working with a company, I’ll say, “Hey, walk me through, what’s your negotiating system?” and usually three to five seconds goes by because they don’t have one but they’re trying to figure out what happens with that.


Clint:                     [00:15:12.63] And this is where – this is really where the focus of – of – of the book is, is to give you a system that when somebody does try to negotiate with you, you know where you’re going to go next. You know where you’re going to go first and then you know where you’re going to go next.


Clint:                     [00:15:28.68] So, so what we’ve done is we’ve outlined three steps in this, and step one is finding the polite way to say no, and – and it really is, you know, acknowledge, reassure, and ask them a question. So it might sound like this. You know, let’s say Hanna, you said to me, “Hey, Clint, something I like – I really like your proposal, but it’s coming in. You know, it’s – it’s – it’s a lot more than the competition. What can you do?”


Clint:                     [00:15:56.81] Okay? Now I’m going to put my system in play; acknowledge, reassure and ask you a question. I’m going to say, “Hanna, hey, first of all, I really appreciate you sharing that with me. You know, I understand. Look, hey, I can – I can assure you, based upon what we’ve talked about, based upon what you told me you’re looking to have done…”


Clint:                     [00:16:15.27] “…our proposal is going to be able to take care of those issues and – and challenges you have. But hey, let me ask you a question. Why do you think the competition or whoever I’m up against values their solution less than mine?” Right? “They want me to try to defend and justify my higher price. I have no interest in doing that. Please defend and justify why you would go with a lower price,” right?


Clint:                     [00:16:42.93] So it’s not my job to try to rescue them. It’s my job to – basically, this is my way of saying I’m not moving at all. You poked at me, you used the gambit. Very good. I appreciate that. You’re a good buyer. I’m not moving anywhere yet. And I say yet because I’m going to, you know, negotiations with some flexibility, but not at the first move.


Clint:                     [00:17:07.23] If I move at the first move, you know, if I say, “Well, where do we need to be?” then that’s not a system. That’s a – “Well, you know, you need to be, you know, about 10 percent less.” “Okay, let me go see what I could do.” That’s a discounting system, and a lot of people and a lot of companies have a discounting system, not a negotiation system. So, now let’s say they work through that or they, you know, come back with something else.


Clint:                     [00:17:31.14] My second move is I call it struggle and pull back, struggle and pull back. So really what this means is, hey, I’m going to struggle. So, if they come back and say, “Yeah, but you know, our budgets have been cut,” such and such, then I’m going to start to, you know, “Hey, wow, sounds like it’s, you know, a tough situation.”


Clint:                     [00:17:50.50] “Look, let me – maybe we should back up here a little bit. Are all the things that you were looking to – to accomplish with what we were going to do, I mean, are – are they all that important?” I need to pull back a little bit and put what I call distancing between any other kind of concession and offering up anything whatsoever.


Clint:                     [00:18:11.88] And this is where we got to use time to our advantage and not to our liability. So the more we do that, the more they start to think, yeah, do they really want this? Is there something that – that – that they want to change? You know, what’s happening in their world? Why are they – help me out? What – what just happened? Why did your budgets get cut? Why would you – you know, maybe, maybe you got a better solution, you know, with somebody else?


Clint:                     [00:18:35.94] I got to use a little bit of what we call negative reverse selling. Negative reverse selling is doing the opposite of what they would expect me to do. And when I do that, it really pulls out the truth. And then the last step is dealing with concessions.


Clint:                     [00:18:49.32] And this is where when you were saying, Hanna, so, so astutely as well, it all depends on what’s at stake, and I absolutely agree with you. You know, there’s – there’s times where there’s take it or leave it. There’s times where it’s – there’s a lot at stake and such.


Clint:                     [00:19:02.76] And this is where you actually spend time talking about or strategizing about what am I going to offer up? And the first move is not offer up as a concession. The first move is to add to the deal. What can I offer up of minimal cost to me without coming off my price but at great value to them?


Clint:                     [00:19:24.05] So when I’m working with some tech companies, this could be an additional software license or additional training or an additional term or an additional length of time, something that doesn’t cost me a whole heck of a lot, but absolutely has really good value to them.


Clint:                     [00:19:40.28] And now you just need to map out your concessions and make sure that as you – as you offer something up, you’re getting something in return, which is the ultimate negotiation 101, never give up something without getting something in return. So if you imagine that system, Hanna, that’s what helps keep you out of this Karpman triangle and getting drawn into the – to the drama of the negotiation. So I hope that that helps add some clarity to that.


Hanna:                   [00:20:06.56] Absolutely. I appreciate it. And I think those tips are excellent ways of flipping the table and putting them on the defensive a little bit instead of you. So, kudos to you for mapping it out that way and explaining it in such a crisp fashion. I appreciate that.


Hanna:                   [00:20:25.64] We just have a few minutes left, though, and there’s just so much I would love to talk about with you about your book Negotiating from the Inside Out. But one thing I do want to just address real quick, I think with the last chapter of your book, you talk about errors that undermine negotiation, and I appreciate that this mama drama triangle is certainly part of that. Now forgive me for renaming it. [Laughter]




Hanna:                   [00:20:51.14] But what other common mistakes do you see people make that are probably habits? They’re under pressure. You know, end of the quarter, got to get this done. Could be end of the year and this could make or break a bonus for some people or a team. Give me two or three common mistakes that people make.


Clint:                     [00:21:13.67] Sure, you bet. First one is, is – and I see this 80 to 90 percent of the times when I’m doing a training session on negotiations and we got them in a roleplay, it comes back to the quintessential somebody just talks too much. They just are talking too much, they’re not asking enough. Influence happens when you’re listening.


Clint:                     [00:21:38.63] If they can get that concept in mind and keep the other person talking, then you start to pick up clues, you start to pick up what is the difference between their – their position versus their mission. Somebody may take a position on something, but that’s not their ultimate mission. And the more you get your counterpart point talking, the more you’ll have that information to be able to utilize to make good decisions. So ultimately, make sure you get them talking.


Clint:                     [00:22:09.99] The second one would be really entering in unprepared. If you’re not prepared, if you haven’t already thought about what are they going to ask, what’s their position going to be, how am I going to respond, then you haven’t prepared for the meeting. You haven’t prepared and that means guess what? You’re probably going to be in the disadvantage.


Clint:                     [00:22:31.25] I had one person, you know, one of my clients call me and, you know, said, “Hey, you know something? I was on my way home last night and I got a call from my prospect, and here I am driving 70 miles an hour down the interstate, and now he wants to kind of dive in and negotiate the deal.”


Clint:                     [00:22:49.61] And he said to me, he goes, “I remember saying, ‘Look, don’t negotiate anything when you’re not prepared,’” he said. So he was able to get off the phone and schedule the call for the first thing that next morning because he knew that if they got into it right then, he was nowhere near ready to deal with the strategies and such that, you know, he needed to – to really grasp and get his head around.




Clint:                     [00:23:12.44] And then lastly, it’s really the easiest one is making a unilateral concession. That just means giving up something without getting something in return, and that something in return could be a commitment. It could be, you know, obviously in a decision, but it also could be a referral. It could be a whitepaper that’s done.


Clint:                     [00:23:35.33] In business, there’s a lot of things that you can ask for that don’t necessarily relate to money and currency and/or around the deal that might be able to position you really well somewhere down the line. So just make sure you’re not giving up because if you do, think about it when you go to buy something and somebody says, “Oh yeah, we’ll knock 10 percent off.” If they did it that easy, you feel like you should ask for more, and that’s really the idea of unilateral concessions, you know, getting something once you get something up.


Hanna:                   [00:24:06.95] Wonderful. Thank you for that. Those are some excellent takeaways, and this whole conversation has really been an eye-opener and a peek behind the curtain of The Wizard of Oz. [Laughter] So, thanks for giving us some tips on how to neutralize those negotiation head trips so that we can win more often and come out ahead.


Hanna:                   [00:24:25.98] If you’d like to contact Clint and learn more about him and his book Negotiating from the Inside Out, you can find that information in the show notes at


Hanna:                   [00:24:36.57] And if you found today’s program helpful, tell your friends. Please tell your friends, let them all get the same kind of insight, and leave a positive review on your podcast app or at


Hanna:                   [00:24:53.04] You have been listening to Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and I hope you have a great day and an even better tomorrow.

Best Moments

Are You Really Wired to Negotiate

4 Common Negotiation Head Trips You Need to Know About

3 Common Negotiating Mistakes You Need to Avoid

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Guest: Clint Babcock

Clint Babcock

With over 25 years of sales, leadership, and negotiation experience, Clint Babcock has worked with senior executives at companies in a wide range of industries to help them strategically build their sales forces.

A Sandler-certified trainer, he has helped hundreds of sales teams and thousands of salespeople to improve performance and retain margin. Babcock’s career background includes top performances in sales, negotiating, business development, operations, and training and development.

He has a degree in finance, and takes pride in keeping himself, his clients, and his students numbers focused.

For more information, please visit

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