Why Being Unique May Harm Your Deal


We all search for the holy grail of ideas that we think will revolutionize our industry or business. The multi-million-dollar idea that changes the game. Most of us have probably had at least one such idea in our minds but failed to act on it. Some have acted on it and failed, while others have strived and succeeded. Even if we never come up with an idea or solution that is unique and innovative, we try to establish factors that separates us from our competitors. Like why should I buy from you? What can you offer that no one else can? What is so great about your product?

I am not saying that you should not aim to strengthen your competitive advantage, it is crucial that you do. But we need to consider how we frame our competitive advantage in the discussions with our counterparts. For us to be effective negotiators, we need to be able to influence people's decisions. For us to influence decisions we need to understand how people make decisions.

One crucial factor when people make decisions is the leverage of social proof. That means that when we are uncertain on what decision to make, we look at what other usually do. Because what others usually do is considered as socially accepted which means there will be limited negative consequences if we make that decision.

So, if we frame our deal as unique, innovative, a special offer, or an only for you offer, we need to be aware that this might raise concern with our counterpart. They might think in terms of "If this is so great, why aren't more people using it?" or "How come I've never heard of this before". "What do others know that I don't" , "Is there something he is not telling me"

As we know, one of the most researched term within Negotiation theory is Anchoring (or first mover advantage). But when marketing people use it, it is about product offering. If you have a core product, you will expand your portfolio with one cheaper, and one more expensive product to anchor the attractiveness of your core product. Because most people do not want to be on the extreme end of anything. We want something trustworthy, something safe. Something others also want.

What we should aim to do, is to re-frame our unique offer so it appears safer, trusted and appealing to our counterpart. We can do it by saying something like:

"Some people like to go for our exclusive X package, but what most of our customers find the best value in, is our popular Y package".

"For customers of your size, we usually recommend package X, for customers who aims to grow significant in a short period, we usually recommend package Y. I would like to discuss package X with you, but I can of course also answer questions about Y if you are interested"

As smart negotiators we need our counterpart to feel safe and we need to build rapport. By leverage social proof and what is socially accepted, we provide such safety to our counterparts and we are more likely to Bring It Home!