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The Power of Persistence In Negotiation

People often ask me, “Which personality type is the best for negotiation.” For a long time that question stumped me. It stumped me because there are so many personality types that I’ve seen be successful at negotiation that I don’t think it takes a certain personality type to be great. In thinking about the question more, I think I’d re-frame the question to, “What traits do the most successful negotiators have.” Naturally my mind thinks, “Well, they have to be inquisitive and curious (great at asking questions). They have to be patient. They have to actively listen.” And while those are REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT to being a successful negotiator, I don’t think it’s the most important thing in negotiation. I used to think that listening and asking great questions were the top traits of a great negotiator, and they still might be, but I’m starting to think that the most important quality/trait of a great negotiator (especially in B2B transactions) is PERSISTENCE!

Think about it. Who are the best negotiators in the world?”


But are children good listeners? Are they patient? They’re certainly curious, but they are definitely not good listeners or patient. But they are persistent!

Most children have never been trained in negotiations and yet, their ability to persist and wear us down cannot be ignored. When did we lose that ability to persist? When did we stop moving from rejection to rejection without loss of enthusiasm? More importantly, how can we develop that persistence again?

Negotiators who are persistent and tenacious can move the balance of power in their direction in a negotiation. Why? Simply because they do not give up. They keep asking and keep pushing. If they’ve asked a question once and gotten a rejection, they try it later in the negotiation, but say it differently. They keep asking. Persistence breaks down the walls of resistance.

And just because someone says “no”, doesn’t mean it’s “no” forever. It could just mean, “not right now.”

Of course, continued persistence has its draw backs too. There’s very much a risk of becoming emotionally worn down in the negotiation and becoming apathetic.

So how do we maintain enthusiasm and move from rejection without stopping being persistent. Well I don’t have the magic bullet here folks, but in my experience it comes down to 3 things:

  1. Do you believe in what you’re selling (this is the same for the procurement person, because ultimately you’re selling the value of the organization you work for)? – If you truly believe in what you’re selling, persistence becomes a lot easier to manage.
  2. Do you take care of yourself? – You probably didn’t expect this one, but I truly believe that your health has a lot to do with your ability to endure and persist. If you’re always tired and not feeling well, how can you expect yourself to persist?
  3. Do you have positive self-talk and do you want it? – Do you tell yourself that you will close this deal? Do you speak positive truths into your life on a daily basis. This is not just some metaphysical mumbo jumbo. This is real. Check out my podcast episode on this here. Likewise, do you actually want it? I’m talking about that you kinda want it. But do you really want it!?!

Ultimately persistence is and will continue to be the separating trait in successful people (regardless of their discipline). Your ability to persist will drive your long-term success.