The Stare and Decision

Poker and selling :

If you ever watch poker on tele­vi­sion, you will see both pro­fes­sion­als and ama­teurs stare at each other when a deci­sion is called for. Many times the eyes lock. The player who is star­ing is try­ing to get a read on whether the bet­ting party has a legit­i­mate win­ner. Then, the player try­ing to get a read has to make a deci­sion – do I call or fold?

In sell­ing, the same thing can hap­pen, the trans­ac­tion is just begin­ning. Buy­ers are anx­ious to get the best deal, get some extra ser­vices or just plain hag­gle. Yes­ter­day, I pre­sented a pro­posal for accep­tance. The buyer looked at me and said ‘can you reduce the charge for train­ing.’ With­out break­ing eye con­tact and with­out hes­i­ta­tion, I replied ‘that’s as good as it gets.’

Then, he looked away and I stayed quiet.

  • I didn’t pack my bag or shuf­fle papers.
  • When he looked back up I was still look­ing at him.

It was not the look of a stalk­ing sales per­son but the body lan­guage of expectance.

  • I raised my palms upward and said ‘well?’
  • It was not sar­cas­tic but rel­e­vant because every­thing was done but the paperwork.

I thought… (Enough of this procrastination….there would be no cav­ing today). I was will­ing to walk. That’s when I started to pack and I gave a loud, deep breath of exas­per­a­tion to non-verbally com­mu­ni­cate that it was time.

  • By the way, ….(I asked) when did you want to sched­ule implementation.?
  • He said ‘Jan­u­ary.’ I said ‘O.K. but I need you to sign that so I can get you scheduled.
  • Can I also get a deposit check?
  • He said alright and went and got the checkbook.

This was not heroic or unusual. But the order did help on reach­ing my quota. Under pres­sure, there was no fold. Instead, there was a moment of truth that I think is com­pa­ra­ble to the stare down in poker.

Don’t get me wrong – it is a lit­tle uncom­fort­able. We must be able to main­tain eye con­tact and hold our ground. This is more of an atti­tude than a tech­nique. It takes a lit­tle courage, a lit­tle tenac­ity and a wee bit of audac­ity. But, you don’t have to be a cham­pion nego­tia­tor to stand firm and re-ask for the business.

Edi­tors note: Tuna’s day job is  to cover his  multi-state ter­ri­tory.   On nights and week­ends he is an accom­plished semi-professional poker player.  This is part of  his  series in the sim­i­lar­i­ties between of Poker and Selling.

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