Episode #146: Herb Cohen

Care….But Not That Much!


Herb Cohen

Herb Cohen has been a professional negotiator for over four decades. He is the author of ‘You Can Negotiate Anything’, which has been translated into 36 languages and is the world’s best selling book on negotiation and selling. He has been a keynote speaker for thousands of organizations from the FBI to Apple.

[01.01] Herb defines Negotiation – as the use of information, time, power to affect behaviour. Any time you intend to influence someone its really a negotiation, it’s a voluntary process.

[01.28] Herb explains how negotiation is important for business – negotiation affects every professional relationship, sophisticated selling is negotiation, the opposite of that is taking orders.

[01.51] Why don’t some salespeople don’t like to negotiate and what can we do to change this – Herb feels some sales people have fallen for the stereotype that it is embarrassing to negotiate. Like a one price store they act like loonies if you ask for a discount on the price, because they don’t have people trained in negotiation.

[02.58] How do you plan and execute a high stakes negotiation – Herb starts off in an amicable manner with a low key pose of incompetence, one of Herb’s other strategy is to make the other side feel superior to himself and for them to feel good. Herb’s goal is to achieve outcomes where both sides benefit, an outcome that strengthens the relationship.

[03.57] What are the attributes of a good sales negotiator – Herb describes a good negotiator as having good interpersonal skills, likes interaction with other people and is an effective listener, not just hearing what the other side says but can find the meaning of their words, able to pick up on cues.

[05.24] Herb shares his top negotiation tools and strategies – Herb believes in that dumb is better than smart and that inarticulate is better than articulate. Herb trained himself to say ‘I don’t know, you have more experience in this than me, can you help me?’ which helped Herb as well as the magic words of negotiation ‘Huh?’ and ‘Wha?’

[07.06] Herb shares his top three negotiation Do’s and Don’ts – Don’t talk too much, listen more than you talk, care….but not that much, don’t become emotionally involved. If you are a buyer, don’t fall in love with what you are buying, fall in like with it, so you are able to walk away. Start amicably in a congenial manner, because it’s easier to go from cooperative to competitive than the other way around.

[12.18] Herb shares his favourite negotiation story – Herb shares a story from 30 years ago, Herb found himself in a situation where he was at the negotiating table with General Motors negotiating a deal for a lawsuit when they sneakily put Chevrolet engines into their Oldsmobile car instead of the rocket olds mobile engine. The pressure was intense and many threats were made against Herb as General Motors were pressuring for a win. After hearing enough, Herb used his metaphor, ‘care….but not too much’, Herb stood up and told them his position, willing to walk away. Immediately after that, General Motors agreed to 12 million dollars compensation.

More About Herb

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Rich Cohen’s The Last Pirate of New York.

Who / What inspires you?
My greatest inspiration was my father Morris who left Poland in 1906 at the age of 13 years, walked across Europe, worked as a longshoreman in Antwerp to obtain steerage fare to come to America.

What aspect of your own negotiation skills are you most focused on improving at the moment?
Attempting to become a more patient listener especially when dealing with uninformed arrogant people.

Hobbies, Interests?
Writing a play and interacting with my eleven grandkids.

How can our listeners contact with you?