In London Underground stations you’ll find signs to “mind the gap” – in other words, watch out for that little empty space between the train and the platform.

The gap is only a few inches wide. And yet it must trip up a lot of people, because the signs are everywhere. You can even buy one as a souvenir.

Maybe you should. And hang it in your office.

Because gaps can be extremely dangerous to salespeople too. I’m talking about that little tiny gap that often arises near the end of a negotiation.

Maybe the buyer wants you to knock a little more off the price. Or throw in some freebies. Or make some other concession you weren’t expecting. “We’re really close,” the buyer says. “Just jump over to this side. It’s no big deal.”

Maybe it isn’t. Or maybe you’re about fall on your face.

There’s nothing wrong with a little give-and-take in a negotiation. But when you’re the one doing all the giving, there’s more at risk than your price. If you agree to concessions without asking for anything in return, buyers will assume you must have been overcharging them all along. They’ll probably ask for further concessions. And they’ll expect you to cave on the next deal too.

So mind that gap. It’s more dangerous than it seems.

photo credit: nikoretro

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