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If you happen to not be fluent in french fencing slang, a “riposte” is a quick return thrust – lightly but firmly taking the initiative back from the opponent. Like on the GIF below?, although it usually looks more subtle than that.

The question of “who has the initiative” is a very important one in negotiations. Even if you are there to find a good fit, not to “win”, not holding the initiative may result in derailment of the whole process.

Clients are often used to holding the initiative and setting the rules. Not knowing any better, they may want you to pitch your services and wait, or fill out a request for proposal (RFP) to bid with the lowest price.**

Typically, our clients know what they want, but not what they need.** An RFP may work great for finding the optimal window cleaning companies, but finding expert help based on price only is sub-optimal for everyone involved.

Instead of playing “their game”, I propose a riposte of some kind

  • asking them for a meeting to clarify what they were asking about
  • calling them and asking why they chose to include you
  • saying “I usually don’t respond to RFP-s, but before I say no, answer me this…”
  • suggesting more appropriate next steps than the one they proposed

Help them see that with a well-crafted riposte, and start driving the conversation in a way that will help you both.

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