“Oh, I probably should have told you…

… I’ll have to pass this along to the person who gets the final say so.

… There’s a third party with veto power (who you’ve not yet met).

… We only have a week to get this nailed down, as a hard deadline.

… [Insert critical fact you needed at the beginning of the deal here].”

The jolt that comes from getting a key piece of information after the moment you really needed it is a specific kind of blood-chilling. With no way to go back and do things differently, you’re forced to start putting out fires and face a loss of time, money, and/or energy.

Maybe it’s happened to you at the doctor’s office (oh, that procedure isn’t covered by insurance), with your kids (Yeah, this project is due tomorrow… and I haven’t started), or a friend or family member (Whoops, I should have mentioned they only take cash here).

Sometimes these moments present a minor inconvenience. If a restaurant only takes cash and you happen to have an emergency $20 on you, or your friend can spot you, no big deal. If, however, you’ve spent 6 months on a negotiation, only to just now find out the decision maker hasn’t been in the room… well, that’s a costly mistake.

To be fair, it is sometimes unavoidable that key information comes out at the 11th hour. Life happens to the best of us. Folks get moved around on a project. Economies shift, and along with them, the needs of companies. Partnerships form, crumble, re-form with different dynamics.

Or, you might be dealing with negotiation pros. Folks who know that playing their cards close to the vest is an effective strategy to destabilize their counterparts as a deadline looms.

Whatever the case, there’s a way for you to minimize the frequency of getting too little information too late.  

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