I got an opportunity to have a sit-down with one of America's leading negotiation trainers and coaches, Jim Camp. Camp is president and CEO of The Camp Negotiation Institute, which offers advanced online credentialed skill courses to organizations and individuals who wish to develop professional negotiation skills. He is author of The Power of NO, a six-CD audio program produced by Nightingale-Conant, the top publisher of leadership development products. His two best-selling books, Start with No and NO: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work or Home, have been translated into 12 languages. We discussed his philosophy behind the word "no."
Your name has become synonymous with the system of negotiation made famous by your books Start with NO and NO. Now you have a six-CD teaching series called The Power of NO. How did the whole concept of "no" come to be?
After going off active duty from the air force in 1973, I got a job selling water softeners. I did exactly what I was told. The gurus who wrote up the scripts taught me five or six different closes; they taught me a lot of slick things to say. I went 0 for 40 in my first three weeks in the field. Since I got paid by commission, I was starving, had a young family to feed, and I hated it.
I was so tired of getting kicked in the teeth that I just went back to those 40 prospects the fourth week and out of frustration told them, "Look, please just tell me no. I don't want to bug you; I don't want to chase you; I don't want to come running around here. I don't want you to not want to me here. Just tell me no, and I'll close out and leave." And a miraculous thing happened. One person said, "Well, Jim, I just couldn't afford it last month, but I can afford it this month, so I really do want a water softener." Over that next week or so I sold about 20 water softeners using this "start with no" approach — and I never looked back. That's when I started putting my system together.