In my interview about negotiation with Camp Group CEO Jim Camp, he pointed out to be the difference between tactics and principles.
As a pilot in the Air Force, he was taught that a principle will always beat a tactic. So, it’s very important to take a look at the difference between a tactic and a principle.
A tactic is something that is designed to take advantage of a weakness in the opponent.
A principle is something never-changing and consistent.
I will illustrate the above with an example from the negotiation for the purchase of a new car. We will see the tactic of using reciprocity and guilt versus the principle of honesty.
We’ve all seen it on television and in the movies and we’ve probably all had it happen to us at one time or another: Good Guy Bad Guy. This classic negotiation tactic is still taught and still applied frequently.
At the car dealership, it goes like this: You have decided on the make and model of the car you want and now you are negotiating the price. The salesperson excuses himself to go talk to the sales manager about the price you’ve requested. He comes back and says that he really fought for you and was only able to get the sales manager to agree to a small discount.
So, again, he says he’ll go to bat for you and go above the sales manager and talk to the general manager, even though this is putting his job at risk, he really wants to help.
Perhaps someone who is young and going through their first negotiation might fall for this classic tactic. But, anyone who has been through some negotiations or who has studied negotiation will immediately see this tactic for what it is.
Here is where the showdown between tactic and principle takes place. The principle here is that of honesty. Honesty is valued by people and necessary to conduct proper business. Regardless of how well the salesperson executes the Good Guy Bad Guy tactic, if there is even a hint of dishonesty about it, the plan will implode and the buyer will lose confidence and respect for the salesperson.
Yes, he may still purchase the vehicle if the price works for him, but we can be sure that he won’t be sending any referrals to this salesperson and that the salesperson career will be short-lived.
Never try to use a tactic that is going to compete with a principle. Anytime you try to implement a negotiating tactic, think it through and be sure that it is backed by proper principles.