1: Jessica had a problem.

As a sales representative for a large pharmaceutical company, “she was trying to sell a new product to a doctor who used similar medication,” Chris Voss writes in Never Split the Difference.

The doctor was the single largest user of this kind of medication in the entire territory.

“The sale was critical to her success,” Chris notes.

Jessica’s goal? Convince the doctor to try her new product.

So that’s what she set out to do. She pitched him. Hard.

The doctor wasn’t interested. He wasn’t impressed. 

He “dismissed her product,” Chris writes. “He said it was no better than the ones he was already using.”

Not only that. “He was unfriendly. He didn’t even want to hear her viewpoint,” he notes. “When she presented the positive attributes of her product, he interrupted her and knocked them down.”

2: The good news? Jessica was enrolled in Chris’s negotiating class at the time. Which means she understood the power of the words “That’s right.”

She would change her approach. She set out to understand what was important to the doctor and why he felt that way. What were his needs, desires, and passions around his work? 

Instead of trying to “convince” him she was right, Jessica’s plan was to ask open-ended questions and then listen well.

She set a new goal. After she summarized what was essential to the doctor, including his emotions about the topic, he would nod and say, “That’s right.”

During Jessica’s next visit, “she soaked up as much as possible about the doctor,” Chris writes. “She learned that he was passionate about treating his patients. Each patient was special in his eyes. Improving their sense of calm and peace was the most important outcome for him.”

The next time they met, the doctor asked Jessica what medications she wanted to discuss. 

This time she didn’t tout the benefits of her product. Instead, she talked about him and his practice. 

“Doctor,” she said, “the last time we spoke about your patients with this condition. I remember thinking that you seemed very passionate about treating them, and how you worked hard to tailor the specific treatment to each and every patient.”

The doctor “looked her in the eyes as if he were seeing her for the first time,” she recollects.

Jessica said he seemed to clearly grasp how to treat his patients, “especially because some of them didn’t respond to the usual medications,” she pointed out. 

They then discussed some of the doctors’ specific challenges treating his patients. He gave her examples.

“When he was finished, she summarized what he had said, especially the intricacies and problems in treatment,” Chris notes.

“You seem to tailor specific treatments and medications for each patient,” she said. 

“That’s right,” he responded. 

This was the understanding Jessica had hoped to reach. 

She listened carefully as the doctor described his treatment and procedures, which provided the information she needed to understand how her medication could fit into his practice. 

“Once the doctor signaled his trust and rapport, she could tout the attributes of her product and describe precisely how it would help him reach the outcomes.”

3: As negotiators, our goal is to understand the other party. When they understand that we understand and say, “That’s right,” is when breakthroughs happen.

“Creating unconditional positive regard opens the door to changing thoughts and behaviors,” Chris writes. 

More tomorrow!


Reflection: Why is someone open to what we have to say once we demonstrate we understand their point of view? 

Action: Experiment with listening first. Make my goal to understand the other party.

What did you think of this post?

Write A Comment