Take It or Leave It

Laying down a final offer can get you what you want.
This story first appeared in the July 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Two situations call for final offers: when you can't do any better, or when it'll force the other side to close quickly. Either way, choose your words carefully. You don't want to box yourself in. A good all-purpose delivery: "This is the best I can do under the circumstances." It is final, but leaves room for change.

If you're receiving a last offer, be sensitive to brink-manship. Test a "take it or leave it" too aggressively, and an opponent may dig in their heels just to save face.

A little diplomacy is better. Consider ignoring the offer and continuing negotiating: "I'd also like to finish up quickly, but we still need to talk about . . . ." If a deadline is involved, become "unavailable." Or try my favorite tactic--open-ended questions: "Why did you decide to make your last offer just now?" "Under what circumstances would you make a better offer?" The answers may give you just the opening you need.

Many perceive a final offer as a high-risk gambit, but it really isn't. You can always make another. You have nothing to lose, except perhaps a little face.


A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is author of Deal Power.

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