General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionMagazine

Volume 17, Number 7
October/November 2000

Closing the Deal

Assuming your efforts in planning have paid dividends and you have successfully used the concepts of leverage to put your deal points within sight, the outcome of months of effort can hinge on what is done or said over the span of only a few minutes. At this point, the only thing that counts is the ability to get the other side to say the magic word—yes. Every lawyer has at least one sad story about the big one that got away. In many of these situations, the deal was lost because of an inability to close.

The right time to close a negotiation is when everyone is ready, willing, and able to say yes to all of the terms embodied in a proposed agreement. Conversely, the wrong time is any other time. Your sense of timing and judgment become critical in making this determination. Often, internal or external deadlines will dictate the right time to close negotiation. However, in situations in which there is little or no deadline pressure, it will be incumbent on you to take the initiative to close. Here are the three don’ts of closing:

1. Don’t press for a closing until you have all the relevant information to make an intelligent offer or an informed response to an offer.

2. Don’t press for a closing if you feel the other side is not ready to close and would view your efforts with mistrust or suspicion. Being premature or overanxious can scare the other side away from a deal they would otherwise be willing to make.

3. Don’t allow the other side to press for a closing until you are ready to close. Too many people find themselves swept into deals they were not ready to make because they fell victim to closing tactics used against them.

Besides never getting around to concluding the deal, the biggest mistake negotiators make in closing is not knowing when to quit. Once the other party has agreed to your terms, stop! Too many people continue to sell a deal after it’s been sold. Continuing to talk after the deal is done can only result in disaster.

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