Lancelot Negotiations

Published on April 2, 2002

Switching channels on my tv, I came across the movie First Knight, starring Richard Gere as Sir Lancelot. In one scene, Lancelot was challenging anyone in the town square to take him on in a fencing match. A very big and strong man steps forward. A few seconds after the match starts, the two lock swords and Lancelot says “be ready to lose your sword.” A moment later, the opponent loses his sword and the contest was over. After the match, the opponent asks Lancelot how he did that? “I want to learn from you”, he said. Lancelot replied there are three things you need to win:

1) Always be a step ahead of your opponent and know their next move.

2) Know when to seize the moment that will determine whether you win or lose.

3) Be willing to live or die.

Now, the 3rd point of be willing to live or die may be a little harsh for sales, but here is how I translate these three points. To be successful in negotiations, you must

1) Know the person you are negotiating with well enough to anticipate their next move. This includes how they operate, their behavioral styles and values, the issues that are critical to them and the consequences they are facing if the deal is not done.

2) Know how to identify the moment in the negotiation when the deal is ready to be consummated. Timing is everything in life. You must be able to read the buying signs and know when the time is right to close the deal.

3) Be willing to lose the deal if the terms are not acceptable to you. You must be able to walk away from the deal. This is hard to do if your pipeline is not full or you are in desperate need for the business. When you are in this situation, you are already negotiating from a position of weakness.

Improve your negotiation skills today and take a lesson from Lancelot. After all, you don’t want to lose your sword in a key negotiation.

Posted in