Never accept the first offer.  In case I didn’t get it right the first time, again, “Never accept the first offer you receive.”

Whether you are buying or selling, hiring or applying for a job, accepting the first offer violates the whole premise of win win negotiation.  Don’t do it!  No matter how tempting it is, don’t accept the first offer!

A good negotiator is a partner…not an opponent in making a deal.  Both parties need to win.  When both parties to a negotiation feel good about the outcome, the chances of additional deals are great.

If you grab the first offer and run with it, the other party will feel like he left money or terms on the table.  Even if it is a great deal for him, he will feel like he did so poorly that you accepted before he could change it.  He will always feel badly about the deal.

Even if the first offer is a great one, the skilled negotiator will counter offer.  Negotiate!  If the first offer is firm, and your counter offer is rejected, adjust it and try again.

There should be a logical sequence to the adjustments you make as you counter offer.  With each new counter offer, you want to present a concession moving toward your partner’s offer.

You should have a definite bottom line beyond which you will just not go.  Know your bottom line before you even start.  Each concession should move toward the bottom line in a proportionate manner signaling  you are getting closer and closer to your absolute rock hard position.

Suppose you are trying to buy something and the first offer is $100 dollars.  If your original target price before the offer was $150, you’ve already got better than you had to have, but don’t just accept it.  Counter offer $50.   When that is rejected offer $75.  If that is rejected try  $90 then $95, finally $99.

Notice that each new counter offer you make moves in a smaller piece than your last concession.  You are sending signals that you are getting closer and closer to your bottom line.   Chances are good that you will get an acceptance somewhere between $75 and $90.

Sometimes poor negotiators  are genuinely firm in their price.  They only have the first offer and refuse to negotiate.  If you have one of these guys, you will make him happier if you negotiate your way from one concession to the next.  Even if he refuses to budge on price and you settle for the $100 he will feel as though you drove a hard bargain and he got as much as possible from you.  When you offered the $99, you are signaling that you are leaving nothing on the table by the progression you have made.

When such a deal is over, you get a price that is better than you expected.  Remember your bottom line was $150.  You’ll know you left little on the table because you tried to get it.  Your partner will feel good because he got what he was asking.  Everybody wins!