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Disciplines > Negotiation > The eight-stage negotiation process > Close

Move to closure | Agree the details | Confirm the agreement | See also

The process stages: Prepare - Open - Argue - Explore - Signal - Package - Close - Sustain


Move to closure

As your packaging reaches a complete solution, you can move towards the idea of closing on a final deal.

Signal readiness to close

Show your own readiness by using signals to indicate that you want to reach agreement. Use words like 'right' and 'ok'. Use ready body language that aligns with your words. Watch their response, and if they signal in return, move further towards closure.

Ok then, it looks like we've a pretty good exchange here.

This is good. I think I can go with this.

Attempt closure

When things seem ready, you can use a trial close to nudge the other person closer to agreement.

Right, then, are we agreed?

Shall we sign, now?

If they do not seem ready, probe for reasons and return to packaging or handle objections as appropriate.

Move steadily and surely to close

Do not try to rush the close. It can be tempting when closure seems so near to jump to the end. Whilst hurrying is a known method, it can also lead to the other person backing away.

Agree the details

When they are ready to complete the deal, make sure that the door, once closed, is unlikely to be re-opened.

Summarize the exchange

A good thing to do at closure is to summarize what you believe has actually been agreed. This assures that the other person also agrees and that there is a common understanding of who will do or give what.

So I will keep Mike off your back whilst you complete the design, but we'll need to ensure Cynthia has final say, although I'll make sure she's in a good mood first.

Handle final objections and doubts

The realization of impending closure can cause people to panic in case they have forgotten something. This may occur as sudden appearance of objections and other reasons why they might not want to complete the deal. You can use objection-handling techniques to manage such situations.

If you want to be certain of their full agreement, watch their body language here. Any doubts will show in how they move and particularly their tone of voice. If you suspect doubt, tell them what you see and ask if they have any remaining concerns. Use of this is highly variable as, depending on the negotiation, uncovering doubts may be very important or something to be avoided.

You look doubtful. Are you sure you want to do this now?

Handle last-minute tricks

Tricky tactics such as the quivering quill may be used just before the close as the other person attempts to squeeze a few more drops of blood out of you. Handle opposition such as this with professional aplomb, showing that you are immune to deception or coercion.

Confirm the agreement

The final step of closure is to confirm the agreement and sign on the dotted line. 'It's not over until the fat lady sings' is a common saying. In negotiation, it is not over until the ink is dry and the exchange has irrevocably been made.

Shake hands

Although you may not literally shake hands, it can be a very effective thing to do at the point of agreement. It symbolizes the closure and is such a powerful social symbol in many different cultures that the other side will think twice about backing out.

Just offering your hand can be such a strong trigger that the other person will automatically shake your hand without thinking. This can act as a forced close, but beware of later ramifications if they feel coerced.

Agree what you have agreed

Even when you have summarized what you have agreed and shaken hands, it is surprising what the other person may think what they have offered or what they will get. a confirmation step that is often helpful is to put into writing what you have agreed. This may be an email, a letter or a formal contract, depending on the situation and the value of what is being exchanged. Even when negotiating with your children, writing down the commitment and pinning on the wall can be surprisingly effective.

Sign the contract

The final stage in many negotiations is taking the irreversible step of legal commitment where you sign the contract or hand over the money. You must be absolutely sure when you take this binding step, as must the other person. If it is a big deal, then you may want your lawyer or buyer to go through the fine detail before signing.

If you have hurried the previous stages, the other person may still back out at this step, but if you have closed solidly and professionally, they will have no reason in their mind not to sign on the dotted line.

See also

Closing techniques, Objection-handling techniques

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