Strategies for Leading Strong When Business Is Weak

Jeff Cochran


It is easy to lead during periods of prosperity, but what happens when you run into a rut? When you need to rebound from tough economic times, there are a number of strategies that will help you successfully lead your team through the storm. From taking risks and reassessing your goals to believing in both yourself and your team, these strategies will put you back on the course to success.

  • Take risks. Economic hardship will likely trigger a fear of failure. The worst thing you can do, however, is allow that fear to hold you back. Instead, take risks during difficult times. By doing so, you are trying absolutely everything to overcome the obstacles. As they say, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.
  • Believe in yourself. Another important strategy for getting through rough patches is to believe in yourself. As the leader of your business, it is vital that your employees believe in you, and they will only do so if you believe in yourself. While tough economic times might lead you to doubt yourself, remember that you should be a strong leader for your company.
  • Rally your team. The next step of rebounding when your business is weak is to rally your team. Your team is your most critical asset, and to succeed, you must prepare them to work through the bad times. Encourage your team by giving credit where credit is due – employees always appreciate being recognized.
  • Be flexible. It is especially important to stay flexible throughout financial challenges. Even if you are not currently meeting your goals, or if you have veered from the path you set out on, your business still has the potential for success. Being flexible means being willing to change your plan and your goals as a means of rolling with the punches.
  • Reassess your goals. Flexibility leads to reassessing goals. For example, you may have been hoping to reach a certain number in sales this quarter, but difficult financial times are holding you back. Rather than struggling to meet an unattainable goal, reassess what goals are truly important to your business.
  • Form strategic partnerships. Forming strategic partnerships can keep your business afloat during times when business is weak. By partnering with others in your industry, you increase the strength of your business and gain a trusted ally to help you reach your most important goals.


4 Common Negotiation Myths

Jeff Cochran


Misconceptions and myths about negotiation abound, just as they do in any trade. Blind belief in several of the main negotiation myths can ultimately harm a negotiation and prevent the process from being successful. Some common myths include the belief that negotiators are born, that they rely on intuition, that they can’t be nice, and that it isn’t possible for everyone in a negotiation to win.

People Are Born Great Negotiators

We’ve all heard this myth, yet it is rarely, or perhaps never, true. The art of negotiation is one that can be learned and is not a skill only a select few are born with. The best negotiators are those who get feedback and practice their skills. Education and social environment can have a great impact on negotiation skills. Formal classes and other kinds of negotiation training can also help skills develop. Even if people have different levels of initial capability when it comes to negotiation, everyone has the potential to become a better negotiator.

Negotiators Rely Solely on Intuition

Negotiators who rely solely on intuition are taking big risks that are unlikely to pay off in the end. The best negotiators walk into negotiations with a plan. Having done their research, they are able to have objective data and/or ideas from independent, expert consultants to help in successful negotiation. This kind of planning means the negotiator has already played out the negotiation scenario in his or her head. A negotiator who plans rather than relies on intuition is better able to counter objections and offer evidence leading to a more desired outcome than the negotiator who simply wings it. Preparation isn’t optional; it is necessary.

Nice Negotiators Finish Last

Another common myth is that to be a successful negotiator, you must be very aggressive and perhaps even mean. This isn’t true in the least. The best negotiators are those who communicate effectively; if you are argumentative and aggressive, people may find it difficult to do business with you. It is often easier for parties to agree with someone they find personable and agreeable. While you don’t want to be too soft and make it easy for one party to have an unfair advantage in the negotiation, you don’t want to be too hard either, as this may cause someone to resist concessions simply because he or she is put off by your personality.

Someone Always Loses in Negotiation

Like the rest of these common myths, the idea that all negotiations end up with a loser in the end is untrue. Not all negotiations are win-lose scenarios. The best negotiations end as win-win situations, where both parties feel as though they’ve come out of it with an agreement they are pleased with. A negotiation is not a game to be won, but rather it is a process both parties engage in to achieve individually desired goals or outcomes.

How to Keep the Deal Alive

Jeff Cochran


Nobody wants a negotiation to fail or a business deal to fall apart, but sometimes despite even the best efforts, it does happen. There are a number of reasons why a business deal might go bad. Understanding the reasons negotiations fail may help a negotiator to avoid common pitfalls. Typical causes of negotiation failure include fear of risk, lack of trust, poor planning and failure to listen. Through negotiation and influence training, you can reduce these effects.

Fear of Risk

Every negotiation involves an element of risk. This, along with uncertainty about overall outcomes can cause fear. Worry over the possibility of missing out on a better deal or of leaving something on the table is just one way fear can halt a negotiation in its tracks. Since the outcomes of some negotiations have the potential to be life-altering, people may wish to avoid risk and derail the negotiation process as a result. It is important to recognize and acknowledge this risk, however.

Lack of Trust

Fear can also manifest itself as a lack of trust between the parties involved in a negotiation. If one party doesn’t trust the other, or trust the negotiator, it makes it difficult for parties to agree on terms. It can also make parties unwilling to discuss them at all. It is important to build rapport and develop trust between parties to facilitate a successful negotiation.

Poor Planning

Entering a negotiation without preparation is risking defeat or a less than optimal negotiation result. A good negotiator needs to be prepared for all potential objections, questions and offers, whether the offer is acceptable or not. A negotiator with inaccurate or incomplete information, or who expects to rely solely on intuition, will likely end up with poor results. The negotiator may be forced to accept steeper concessions, if any agreement can be reached at all.

Failure to Listen

If you aren’t able to clearly identify each party’s priorities, you’ll likely be unable to devise an outcome that can be agreed upon by all. It is important to listen and identify both individual priorities as well as any shared priorities between parties. If parties seem unable to agree, it is vital that the negotiator takes a step back and determines the heart of the disagreement. Focus on a preferred outcome instead of simply reiterating starting positions. Listening to what both parties want and identifying a clear way to reach these preferred outcomes can help put a stalled negotiation swiftly back on track.

Starting Strong: 4 Ways to Negotiate With Confidence

Jeff Cochran


Before entering an important negotiation meeting, it is essential to be prepared. Many business deals rely on quality negotiation. If a negotiator walks into a meeting without preparation, he or she is likely to fail. Ways to prepare include formulating an agenda, creating a strategy, using time management techniques, knowing limits, and understanding the goals of both parties, among others. This key preparation is critical to negotiation success.

Preparing an Agenda

Identify what you expect will happen during the meeting. Which topics will be discussed? Who will attend? Where will the meeting be located, and how long will it last? Identifying topics to discuss can help prevent you from being blindsided by something unexpected or distracted by irrelevant subjects. Setting an agenda and distributing it to all relevant parties beforehand will ensure both parties are starting on the same page, with a shared understanding of what is expected to take place during the meeting.

Creating a Strategy

After performing research, prepare a meeting strategy. What do you want to achieve during the meeting, and how do you plan to achieve it? This will help you determine what kind of information you need to bring with you to help best prove your points and ultimately reach the identified objectives. Walking into the meeting without a strategy is often simply planning for failure.

Using Time Management

One method for managing time effectively during a negotiation is preparing an agenda to be distributed beforehand. This lets all parties know which elements will be covered, and helps them to identify how much time they might need to set aside. It is important to reserve enough time to talk through each point thoroughly. If not enough time is designated for a negotiation and you are unable to cover all items outlined in the agenda, both parties may walk away without reaching an agreement. This can be frustrating and upsetting to all. Do you think your negotiation will be covered in one meeting? If not, do you have definite dates and times set for future talks? If discussion during a negotiation meeting brings up questions requiring follow-up, do so promptly. This will demonstrate your respect for the time of others.

Knowing Limits and Goals of Both Parties

If tradeoffs are inevitable in negotiations, you need to identify what you are absolutely unwilling to concede to in order have a successful deal. What is your bottom line or ultimate goal? If you walk into a negotiation asking for something the other party has no chance of agreeing to, your negotiation won’t be successful. Identify limits and goals for all parties ahead of time.

3 Ways to Level Up Negotiations by Year’s End

Jeff Cochran


It is vital in today’s business world to have strong negotiation skills and continue to strengthen them. Besides negotiations training, there are a number of ways for everyone, including highly successful negotiators, to improve his or her negotiation skills. Several things that can improve your existing negotiation skill set are to develop stronger communication skills, display more confidence and to more clearly identify commonalities between opposing parties.

Employ Strong Communication

Good communication is about more than knowing just the right thing to say. It is also about knowing when to listen and when not to say anything at all. If you ask the other party a question during the negotiation process, be quiet and allow him or her the appropriate time to respond. Actively listening to responses allows you to better understand the person’s position, and can help you to better negotiate an agreement acceptable to all parties involved. If a person responds with an objection or complaint, show you are listening by acknowledging you’ve understood their concern. You can then counter the objection, in the hopes of moving the conversation forward, rather than ending the discussion and stopping any further negotiation.

Look for Things in Common

If you come away from a negotiation without having understood the other party’s priorities or needs, you may be walking away with a failed negotiation. Not only do you need to understand the other party’s priorities and needs in some fashion, but you also need to identify ways in which you have something in common with him or her. When you identify commonalities and negotiate from a shared understanding, you are more likely to achieve outcomes that are acceptable to all parties involved. It is often harder for someone to say no to someone they identify themselves as having something in common with. Parties aligned with one another in some fashion typically find it easier to agree than parties that are in complete opposition.

Display Confidence

A key trait to demonstrate during a negotiation is confidence. If you don’t display confidence, you run the risk of coming across as weak are less likely to achieve the desired outcome. The other parties may be disinclined to make necessary concessions or may believe they can push their desired result right over your proposed solution. One trick to coming across as confident is to maintain eye contact during negotiations. Another tip is to monitor your tone of voice. Sounding hesitant, timid, or using words that pause the conversation like “um” or “ah” will make you seem less than confident. Speak clearly and be sure of your words to display confidence during negotiations and enhance your chances for success.