The maxim, “it ain’t over till it’s over” is a maxim because it's true.
Fans of Queens Park Rangers were lambasted by their manager for leaving before the end, in their recent match against Brentford.
At 2 – 0 down and into injury time, many of the QPR fans decided to leave Loftus Road and missed what makes sport remarkable, 2 late goals from QPR bringing home a draw from their local rivals.
Ian Holloway, the QPR manager said, "I was disappointed with our fans, I'd like to say. You should have stayed. You might not have missed your last bus, but you missed a treat. For me, it feels like a win, for them it probably feels like a defeat.”
The point is quite clear, stay with it until the end or you very much may miss something.
Negotiators should be absolutely clear about this too. Often there is significant value lost or indeed gained in the final stages of the negotiation. When one or other sides recognise that the negotiation is nearly done the trained negotiator looks to improve or sweeten the deal. So much effort has gone into securing a negotiating agreement that it can be difficult to say no to a last request, which occasionally turns into the penultimate request rather than last one after all.
Keep your wits about you and make sure you are able to use last small requests as an opportunity to trade for something that you would like too, or at least try to use it as an opportunity to trade for the negotiation to close.
Of course, it is very much in your interests to keep asking for value until the other side says enough. You are commercially responsible for yourself not them.
Another sporting icon, Eddie Jones, Manager of the England Rugby team, has found a motivational way of rebranding his substitutes as “finishers”, who come on in the last quarter of a match to finish the game plan and blast away the opposition. To great impact, the last two wins against Australia and Samoa were sealed conclusively in the last 5 minutes.
Whilst I would not necessarily advocate finishers in negotiation, it is certainly worth spending a small amount of time before the final agreement with your initial negotiating objectives and a well-prepared value building list trying to bridge any gaps in your plan.
Certainly, before you get into any singing, fat lady or otherwise.