If you are in business, or in management, you need to develop the art of negotiation. It’s in every part of our working day. A staff member wants a pay rise, or you’re trying to get a client’s business, or you’re shopping around for a new supplier. Negotiations are occurring every day. It isn’t just about negotiating a price, it might be negotiating a deadline, or a timetable, or prompter delivery, or a staff member to stay back late to finish an urgent job … whatever it is, these tips will help improve your negotiation skills:
At the beginning. Introduce yourself and answer the question, “why would someone do business with you?”
Your expertise and knowledge, combined with your knowledge of the other side’s needs will help you answer this question, and promote trust between you and the other negotiator. If you want to do business with a new customer, address any doubts or concerns up front with either FAQ information, a profile about yourself or other information which will reduce or remove prospective reservations or objections.
Drop the old-school negotiation stereotypes.
Today’s model is more of a business partner approach in negotiation. Be open and sincere, and not only think about what’s best for you, but also what’s best for the other side. This also fosters trust and develops long-term relationships.
Lighten the mood by finding a common ground.
Be on the lookout for things you both like and find common interests. You or the other party will have a hard time getting confrontational.
Don’t get personal.
Focus on solving the problem or making the deal, and don’t get sidetracked by the other side’s personality. Some people may be difficult to deal with, but this is not the purpose of your negotiation. Don’t let their personality thwart your objectives.
The first five minutes of the negotiation is critical.
It is very important to make a positive impression because these first few minutes is the time when the other side is assessing you and figuring out if you’re worth their time.
Be assertive but not confrontational.
Being assertive means knowing what you want and not be afraid to ask for it. It is expressing your feelings calmly, without being anxious. Asking for what you want builds trust and shows your honesty and integrity, but make sure you maintain respect for others and their interests. The best negotiations are when both parties walk away from the table feeling good about the arrangement and feeling like they have had a win. If you attempt to ‘screw’ (apologies for the language) somebody and ‘rub their nose in it’ then chances are the person will take it personally (understandably) and back away from the negotiation table, or dig their heels in. Being strong, but polite works better – remember you get more flies from honey than vinegar and this works the same in normal day to day negotiations.
Be sure to gather useful information prior to your negotiation. Know the other negotiator’s needs, and if possible, their negotiation style. This will allow you to prepare appropriate options and be able to make accurate decisions. The more information you gather, the more successful your negotiations will become.
Talk less- listen more.
Negotiators should be good and effective listeners, and ask probing questions. Encourage the other negotiator by asking open-ended questions, and make the negotiation lively and interactive. The more they talk (and you listen) the more you will learn which will very likely assist you in your negotiations.
Set high expectations to get more satisfying outcome. If we are talking property, as a seller you need to ask for more than what you expect to receive; and as a buyer you need to offer less than what you’re willing to pay. The trick is finding a level which won’t insult the other person so that they won’t even approach the negotiation table.
Show emotion – selectively.
Never let the other person see how badly you want the object or an outcome; you automatically place them in a stronger position. A bit of emotion will show the other side that you’re passionate and are definitely interested. Smile when you’re satisfied, and don’t be afraid to show the other party if you don’t like what you’re hearing; however, learn to control your emotions and don’t get angry or overly passionate.
Take your time, be patient.
The more you rush, the more likely you’ll make mistakes or settle for less than you might have. If the other negotiator sees that you’re not in a hurry (and they are), they are more likely to concede so that you’ll say yes. The last time I purchased a property, it was more than two months in the negotiation phase; but my patience was well rewarded.
Don’t be afraid to walk away.
Have other options so that you won’t feel desperate (or worse, come across as desperate) and won’t be afraid to walk away. When other negotiators see that you are willing to walk away if you don’t get a positive outcome, they will know that you mean serious business. This doesn’t mean that you should walk away quickly, it just means that you won’t cave in to their demands.
Recognise the other negotiator’s pressure and don’t focus on yours.
In relation to taking your time, the other negotiator on their end may feel pressure to close the deal right away. Focus on that instead of your own pressure to make the deal. You will get the upper hand when you have done your homework and recognise the other side’s reason or need to ‘close the deal’ and possibly cave in.
Negotiation is a two-way street.
Try looking from the other side’s perspective. Everyone’s different and you will be able to negotiate better if you put yourself in their shoes and figure out how they perceive the deal. Make them feel satisfied, and they will most likely make you feel the same way.
Giving away concessions.
In relation to the previous point, don’t allow yourself to give something away without getting something in return because you will be leaving yourself open to concession. Also on this point, if you give a concession as a trade-off, this may make the person feel they have had a win (even if small) and may then be willing to concede. Imagine we are talking price and you are quite far apart in price. Throw in something to ‘sweeten the deal’ which may also allow them to ‘save face’ and feel they have had a win, even if the overall result was a win for you.
Countering towards the end.
When you find yourself in the end of the negotiation, offer a counter. Show the other negotiator that you understand their side, but show them as well why your proposition is better. Explain the pros and cons clearly.
Negotiating takes practice.
The only way to become an expert is to practice a lot such as going to markets or garage sales. Practice at every opportunity and read about body language; understanding their body language (and your own) will assist in the process as well. The more you practice, the more confident you will become.
For more business coaching tips, call me on 0411 622 666.
Good luck in your future negotiation endeavours!