BLOG

Negotiating Strategy: How to Compromise to Win

Andres Lares

0

Every good negotiator needs to understand the value of compromising as well as recognizing the right time to seek compromise. Compromise is a powerful negotiation tool, and the way you achieve compromise is also important. If you want to learn how to compromise to win, you need to understand how to compromise effectively.

 

 

Take Your Time

Some negotiations may be time-sensitive, but that does not mean you should rush through to whatever result you can obtain as quickly as possible. Reaching an acceptable compromise with the opposition often requires taking more time than you may have originally planned for a negotiation but doing so ultimately leads to more favorable results for both parties.

Take your time and don’t negotiate too quickly. Gather as much information as possible from your opposition, learning everything you can about their desires, hopes, and fears concerning your discussion. When you offer something up haphazardly or cast aside some items of your negotiation without giving them the appropriate attention, you inherently weaken your position. Ultimately, taking your time during a negotiation increases the chances of finding the ideal “win-win” scenario for both sides of the table.

Negotiating isn’t mindreading – the party on the other side of the negotiating table may be more flexible than they initially appear or their goals may vary wildly from your initial assumptions. This is why taking your time is so important. If you’re striving for a compromise, you need to allow adequate time to learn everything you can about the situation before giving any ground or advancing your position.

 

If You Give, Be Sure to Obtain in Kind

A large part of compromising for a win is to never give anything up without obtaining something of equal value in return. Remember, compromise is about ensuring that both sides feel good about the outcome of a negotiation. You shouldn’t need to sacrifice the strength of your position to secure whatever deal you can, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some concessions to your opposition as long as you get something in return.

The potential for compromise varies in every negotiation in every industry, so there is no solid formula for determining what is acceptable to give up and at what price. Instead, strive to remain flexible during your negotiations. If certain terms of your deal are non-negotiable, look for other parts of your deal that might not be so rigid and explore the potential for compromise in these areas instead.  Ultimately, as long as you’re getting something in return and you reach favorable terms with the opposition, you haven’t lost but simply compromised for more mutually agreeable terms.

 

Always Strive to Minimize Your Losses

To obtain something, you need to be willing to lose something of equivalent value. Remember to focus on interests, not people. Do not allow your negotiation team to become fixated on the people on the other side of the table. Instead, have them focus on their goals and interests. This applies to your own side as well; do not allow your team to become fixated on reaching terms with the opposition and exceed your threshold for acceptable losses in the negotiation.

Buyers and sellers have different priorities, and this often leads to competitive tactics, attempts to split the difference, and other strategies that can prolong the negotiations and frustrate both parties. Stay focused on your organization’s goals and your immediate goals for the negotiation. Find out what you can offer the other party that does not require conceding ground.

As you work toward a compromise, your opposition will begin to show their hand and you’ll be able to more easily identify room for compromise that doesn’t require taking additional losses. Try to approach each negotiation with a firm idea of your best alternative to a negotiated agreement or your “consolation prize” compared to your ideal outcome. This should provide you with the right framework to decide where to make concessions and where to remain firm so you can mitigate your losses.

 

Use Implied Compromise to Stall for Time, If Necessary

Don’t shy away from telling the opposition that you might be able to agree to the suggested terms, but you need to verify some details first. This type of “implied compromise” not only gives you more time to work with but also shows the other side of the table that you’re looking for a compromise. Take this opportunity to formulate a new strategy or approach the negotiations from a new angle. Perhaps while verifying the proposed terms, you discover more information that alters the course of the discussion or find room for another type of compromise. A little bit of breathing room can go a long way toward helping you reach a more favorable outcome.

 

Know When a Loss Is Unavoidable

When a negotiation takes a turn for the worse, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to cut your losses. Sometimes the best compromise possible is making no deal at all. While this may not be an ideal outcome, it may be more beneficial to your organization than offering undue concessions to simply try and save face.

It is possible to eventually turn a loss into a win as long as you take adequate time to determine if a strategic position for the future is obtainable. Continuing negotiations even when you know a loss is imminent may not be a bad idea as long as there is something to gain in the future. Your discussion may uncover alternative routes toward a compromise or pave the way for future negotiations while minimizing your loss.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for compromising for a win. Negotiations can take unexpected turns, and you may not have all the information you need to solidify your bargaining position right away. Remember these five tips for your future negotiations and that compromising for a win can not only help your team advance your organization’s goals, but also cultivate professional relationships and hone your negotiation skills for future success.

9 Negotiating Techniques to Avoid

Jeff Cochran

0

Negotiation can be a tricky skill to manage. Solid negotiation tactics can not only help a company achieve short-term success but also forge long-lasting partnerships and business relationships. Unethical negotiation tactics, however, ultimately harm the company, even when they seem to have positive results. If you allow these behaviors to continue unchecked, they will not only diminish the effectiveness of your team as a whole, but also ultimately harm your organization’s reputation.

 

Why Do People Use Questionable Negotiation Tactics?

Negotiation can be difficult, but that does not mean it is ever acceptable to delve into ethically questionable territory or use abusive negotiation tactics. Unfortunately, some professionals use these tactics for a number of reasons:

  • The “power motive” encourages people to exercise power over others to gain prestige or personal power. An individual may engage in questionable negotiation tactics simply for the personal satisfaction of obtaining power over the opposition.

 

  • The “competitive motive” encourages people to outperform their competition. Some professionals may feel compelled to win at any cost, including using deceptive or abusive negotiation tactics.

 

  • Survival can encourage an individual to use whatever means necessary to close a deal if doing so helps keep the individual in their job or a company afloat. If an organization has hit dire circumstances, this might compel some members of the organization to engage in questionable negotiation tactics.

 

These are just a few of the most common motivations behind some individuals’ decisions to employ marginally ethical negotiation tactics. If your team relies on negotiation skills on a regular basis, keep an eye out for any of the following negotiation tactics. These situations could ultimately become great opportunities for retraining or coaching on proper negotiation technique.

 

Negotiation Tactics to Avoid

Your team’s negotiation skills should rest on an ethical foundation of proper modern training and a commitment to advancing the organization’s goals in healthy, respectable ways. Stay alert for any marginally ethical or questionable negotiation tactics, including:

 

  • Competitive bargaining. Although this negotiation style is largely considered ethical, it is mostly used in situations where the customer-client relationship isn’t considered a long-term investment. Placing customers in a win-lose situation or presenting them with a “take it or leave it” stance does nothing to foster long-term relationships and may instead cultivate resentment.

 

  • Emotional manipulation. Intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the opposition to secure a superior bargaining position is underhanded and reflects poorly on your organization. You should strive to prove the value and benefits of what you have to offer rather than try to back the opposition into a corner out of fear, shame, or guilt.

 

  • Duping someone into agreeing to your terms is not a successful negotiation, it is a successful deception. Always ensure your team represents your organization’s products, services, and bargaining position accurately. Never leave out key details or misrepresent what you have to offer, otherwise the opposition will simply feel taken advantage of and will probably never do business with your organization again.

 

  • The decoy. A negotiation decoy is essential the practice of making a big deal out of one aspect of your discussion that ultimately doesn’t matter much in order to draw attention away from your true aim. Encourage your team to be straightforward in their negotiations, arguing from positions of strength while remaining committed to offering real value rather than hoping a distraction will dupe the opposition into agreeing to their terms.

 

  • Red herring. A red herring in the negotiation world is simply an illogical argument that sounds believable, something to throw the opposition off your “scent” and lulling them into a false sense of security. Do not allow your team to bluff or attempt to throw off the opposition by introducing distractions. Doing so only harms the reputation of your organization, so encourage honest and straightforward bargaining at all times.

 

  • Cherry picking. This tactic involves aggressively and systematically scanning the terms of a deal and highlighting those found agreeable and pointing out those found to be disagreeable. This is an attempt to exercise power over the opposition, causing them to second-guess their most desired outcomes. Encourage your team to refrain from terms that imply a deal is contingent on specific items and engage in more holistic discussions instead.

 

  • Deliberate mistake. Leaving out a crucial detail or hoping the opposition overlooks a key term of a deal is unethical, a tactic your team should avoid at all times. Duping another party into a deal after depriving them of necessary information is not a successful deal; it is simply a successful deception. It’s also one that could tarnish your company’s reputation and sully the relationship you could have cultivated with that customer. Ensure your team is always forthright will the terms of every deal they discuss, with every customer, every time.

 

  • Backing out of a negotiated offer. Breaching a legally binding contract is illegal in most cases, but backing out of a negotiated offer before the contract is signed falls more within the realm of unethical. It may not be illegal to back out of a negotiated deal before signing, but this should only happen under extreme circumstances when there is a very good reason to avoid going through with the deal.

 

  • Revoking an offer. This, like backing out of a negotiated offer, should only happen under extreme circumstances and in good faith. Revoking an offer in bad faith is generally viewed as unethical, so never allow your team to do so out of a desire to secure a more favorable bargaining position.

 

Teaching your team to avoid these tactics will help evolve their skillset and ultimately cultivate a stronger reputation for your business. The people with whom your team negotiates will respect straightforward discussions and ethical negotiation tactics.

4 Signs Your Team Needs Negotiation Training

Andres Lares

0

Many professional teams experience issues that can impact performance, deteriorate team cohesion, and ultimately drive down the business’s bottom line. Some members may be underperforming for any number of reasons, from failure to capitalize on their potential to personal struggles that bleed into their professional work. Slow business periods, missed opportunities for connections with new customers or business partners, and interorganizational hiccups can all eventually hamper a professional team’s performance.

Managers who encounter these problems often find themselves struggling to find room for improvement. Helping team members realize their potential isn’t as easy as it might sound, and the answer isn’t always obvious. One of the most overlooked solutions is negotiation training. All types of professional business teams can benefit from a solid negotiations training course. Look for these signs that negotiation training might be the best available route to help a team out of a rut.

 

Your Organization Is Falling Short of Its Goals

Negotiation skills are necessary for every team at every level of a company, not just the sales force. A business professional in almost any department in any industry can benefit from knowing how to negotiate the right way. An organization failing to meet its goals may contain several teams that would all benefit from negotiation training. Consider how the following teams can benefit from negotiation training.

  • Negotiation training can assist teams that work with vendors, ensuring the organization’s concessions for vendor contracts are reasonable and advance the company’s goals.
  • Senior management across all departments within an organization may all offer input on internal budget decisions. Negotiation training can assist these managers in making strong cases to ensure the budget discussion flows in the right direction.
  • Organization members in all departments can enjoy smoother interactions with their colleagues, partners, supervisors, and clients when they know how to negotiate the right way. Negotiation inherently teaches one how to successfully navigate difficult conversations, regardless of who is on the other side of the table.
  • The right negotiation tactics can mean the difference between simply closing a deal with a client and forging a long-lasting partnership with that client. Some team members may be relying on heavy-handed tactics, which, while successful in the short term, ultimately create division between the organization and its vendors, partners, and clients.
  • Successful negotiations build confidence, which not only increases performance metrics but also boost overall job satisfaction. Happy employees are productive employees who want to remain with their organization, so negotiation training may ultimately boost employee retention rates.

These are just a few examples of how negotiation training can potentially benefit all levels of virtually any company, from entry-level employees to upper management at the C-suite.

 

The Organization Has No Systematic Approach to Negotiation

Your company likely has firm policies in place for handling specific issues, but does it have a solid system for handling negotiation? Negotiation training can become the foundation of your organization’s negotiation philosophy, and this will eventually permeate through all levels of your organization and lead to several surprising benefits. Each member of your team will likely evolve their own individual negotiation styles; that is perfectly fine as long as all those skillsets stem from the same foundational training to keep everyone in tune with the organization’s goals.

A systematic approach to negotiation inherently encourages team cohesion; when your team has all the fundamentals of negotiation down to a science, they will work better both individually and as a unit. Systematic negotiation means the team subconsciously creates its own check and balance system. When every member of a team completes the same negotiation training, they will instinctively discover and begin to capitalize on each other’s strengths and learn from one another simultaneously.

 

Your Team Doesn’t Have Opportunities to Practice Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is somewhat of a “use it or lose it” type of skill. If your team doesn’t have many opportunities to practice their negotiation skills, those skills will inevitably deteriorate. Negotiation training doesn’t just provide a framework for how to negotiate; it also helps your team shake the dust off their existing skills and hone them more finely. If your team doesn’t have many opportunities to practice negotiation, a professional negotiation training session can ensure they are fully prepared when the next opportunity arises.

Your team may also feel as though they have been lacking opportunities to practice negotiation skills because they simply aren’t recognizing them. Negotiation training can help your team quickly and accurately identify the times when negotiation skills are most important and recognize opportunities to negotiate on behalf of the organization. These opportunities may come in the form of interorganizational discussions with colleagues, interactions with clients, and discussions with other businesses that support your company.

 

Overall Lack of Training or Outdated Training

If it’s been years since your team’s last negotiation training or if they have never received any formal negotiation training, they may be simply out of touch with the latest research and methods in the professional negotiation realm. Even if a team member has decades of industry experience, complacency can take a toll and diminish even the most hardworking employee’s skillset. This is especially true when it comes to negotiation skills; this type of training should happen on a somewhat regular basis to ensure the team is fully up to speed with the latest negotiation methodology and information that influences their day-to-day interactions inside and outside of the company.

If you have noticed any of these warning signs within your organization or your team, it’s important to take decisive action and capitalize on the potential that negotiation training offers. A professional negotiation training program can help your team feel more aligned with the organization’s goals, more easily recognize opportunities to negotiate, and complete their negotiations in healthier and ultimately more successful ways.

 

Negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills to win you a better deal.

Andres Lares

0

Negotiation is a balance between the science of preparation and strategy development and the art of connecting with the other side’s needs and wants. The trick is to know just how much you have to ‘give’ in order to get all of your needs met (and with solid negotiation habits… some or most of your ‘wants’ as well). 

 

Better habits will lead to better results in all of your negotiations whether it is a business deal, a personal purchase or even ‘Where are we going for dinner?’ decisions made under the stress of being hungry and in a hurry with family and friends!

 

SNI has a proven method for maximizing your objectives in a negotiation while maintaining a careful eye toward improving relationships. We firmly believe in using a system for negotiation not only because it improves performance, but also because it makes it repeatable and sustainable across an organization. 

 

Our relationship based approach to negotiation is based around the core principle – the best way to get what you want in a negotiation is to help them get at least some of what they want.

 

Below are a host of negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills based on our negotiation training that will surely positively impact your negotiations. 

 

Negotiation Strategies for Getting What You Want and Need

 

Don’t ever overestimate your weakness, nor underestimate the other side’s. 

Many negotiators give in too easily when they believe they are weaker than the other side. One aspect of preparation is to identify the strengths and weaknesses for both sides. 

You need reliable transportation, and you want a car that is $2000 over your budget. It is not unreasonably priced, but it is $2000 over your budget. 

  • Experts don’t haggle here. They weigh the other side’s needs (to move cars) and wants (to make commission) and with that leverage, they walk in and make a reasonable offer below their target price (leaving room to move).  
  • When faced with options to maximize the price (or switch to a less desirable car), the experts stick to their initial offer for a specific car. 
  • The experts point out how their offer meets the salesperson’s need to sell a car today. 
  • When the price starts to drop, the expert sticks to their offer and asks if the desired price is possible. 
  • If/when an expert does need to make a concession, they remember the three keys to making concessions- move slowly ($100 up), show pain (“my wife won’t be happy”), and ask for something in return (“but I’ll need free oil changes for the first year”). 

And so on until they reach their target price. Sticking to your first reasonable offer and using the laws of concession forces the other side to start conceding in an attempt to get you to ‘trade’ with them. Resist the temptation to change your offer until you get your primary goal(s) met. 

 

Scripting Your Exchanges

It is always a good idea to write out your needs and wants, along with their relative values, to plan for the exchange of value in a negotiation. 

You are in the final stages of a salary negotiation with a great candidate for your team, and the candidate asks you for $5000 more than your budget for the position. 

Experts:

  • Already know what they are going to say when this situation arises. They plan to:
    • Ask the candidate to reconsider the offer. 
    • If that is rejected, the next ‘offer’ should be worth far less than $5000 but should still be a move in the right direction. Ideally it’s a combination of moving in salary along with other variables. 
    • Trades such as an extra week of vacation, a 1% bump in 401(k) contributions or stock, ability to telework, flexibility in schedule and subsidized parking cost you less than the hard cost of that $5000 that is not in your hiring budget. These solutions will have less impact on your cash flow.  

Writing out your strategy is the science and knowing when/how to offer these exchanges is an art. Fortunately, it is a strategy that you can learn and practice to get better. Here is another technique to help you practice this strategy and close difficult deals. 

 

Offering 3 Options

An excellent closing strategy is to offer three options. Buyers like to feel in control. By presenting three choices: a premium package, an enhanced package and a basic package, you can usually influence the other side to choose your preferred option by simply offering it as the last choice. Three options balances people having a feeling of choice with not being overwhelmed by too many choices (paralysis by analysis). 

You are selling a subscription service and the other side is asking for your most expensive package at a 20% discount. 

Let’s assume that you have a basic service at $1200, enhanced service at $1500 and premium service at $2000. Your customer is trying to get you to offer premium service at $1600. You can’t mix and match components of your services a la carte, so:

  • Offer the premium service hard at full price. Set the bar high. 
  • Next compare it to the basic service. They don’t want that. 
  • Ask questions and listen to their needs/objections. 
  • Make an offer to meet most of their needs and wants with the enhanced service at the price of $1500 saving the customer more than the 20% discount they requested while meeting most of their needs and wants. 

Most negotiations will end with the other side choosing their price point (the enhanced service) or your value (enhanced at $1500 or the premium service at $2000). A nice win-win. 

 

Negotiation Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People

Some negotiators bargain in a difficult way because they are in a bad spot, while others use power, tricks and tactics because they often work! In either scenario, you can counter the positional or argumentative negotiator by changing your mindset about these difficult deals, and utilizing some of their own tactics to neutralize them. 

Here are some quick tips for dealing with tactical negotiators.

 

Neutralize your own emotions. 

Take a deep breath. This isn’t about you. You have prepared well and you are negotiating in good faith. 

Your customer says “I thought the customer is your first priority!? You have to help me out with a discount on this job so I can win US BOTH more business.”

Count to ten and stay in your ‘safe harbor’ of asking questions in the face of objections and power plays. 

Ask questions:

  • Tell me about your agreement with your client? 
  • Do you have a contract ready for this future work? 
  • Can I help you with the response to this RFP?

Use hypotheticals:

  • Hypothetically, could we approach this customer together? With our combined buying power, we might be able to offer more value if we can win a bigger order.
  • If we agree on X can we talk about Y?

 

If your gut tells you it’s a tactic, name it and neutralize it. 

Sometimes you think the deal is done, and then someone new enters the deal for ‘final approval’. You suspect something (we call it “Higher Authority” or the “Nibble” if they ask for something last minute), but you’re not sure. Your gut says this is a tactic. 

You’re probably right. 

Here’s one way to handle it…

Your longtime customer Jenny says you have to meet her new budget manager to get your agreement approved. 

“This is Bruce. We want to give you the business, but you have to lower the price to get his buy-in.”

The expert greets Bruce and asks him what he needs to make a decision. Bruce replies “Lower your price.” 

The expert responds with a prepared response: 

  • “I believe you’re negotiating in good faith, but having you come in now with only one need – ‘Lower price’…this makes me feel like you’re using a ‘good cop-bad cop’ tactic. 
  • “Jenny and I have had many discussions. Can we catch you up on some points before we talk about price?” 

Whether they confess or deny it, you have blocked the good cop/bad cop strategy because:

  • You named it. They have to adopt another approach. 
  • Be polite, but know that you are on moral high ground. 
  • Protest (gently) and take the opportunity to restate your offer (or an alternative).

You cannot be wrong when you tell someone how their behavior makes you feel. When you feel it, name it and neutralize it. Try to get back to having a two-way dialogue. 

 

Silence is a great tactic when combined with active listening.

Your negotiation has reached a moment when there seems to be an impasse. Try staying quiet. A pleasant, unworried and perfectly calm expression while your last offer is considered can be powerful. 

A customer says the following at the last minute: “Thank you for your revised proposal, we like everything about it but need it for 5% less.” 

Expert response: Let there be silence. It may feel uncomfortable but it’s ok to take a few seconds to think and put pressure on them. Then, eventually, if you need to break the silence, ask a question such as “What if that is the best I can do?”

As long as you stick to your offer and stay quiet, you cannot concede. 

  • Encourage the other side to state their objection(s) precisely and simply listen.
  • Let them talk. Take notes, and ask them to clarify. 
  • Make the other side work hard to justify their position (objection) by simply staying silent or using a probing encourager (such as “Tell me more”). 

Use silence and thoughtful probing to break the impasse. The other side may start sweetening the deal to move toward a resolution. It is now your decision whether to move from your last offer if you decide it is worthwhile. 

 

Use time to your advantage. 

Have you ever noticed how many deadlocks (strikes, Congress, bedtime) come down to a flurry of negotiating right before the deadline? There’s a reason why people believe it’s smart to buy cars at the end of the month (or at year-end). They believe that these deals might go away. Now is the time to buy. 

We often react to perceived scarcity and allow the pressure of a deadline to drive bad decisions.   

A new client sends an email stating: “If you cannot meet our conditions by midnight, then we have no choice but to select your competitor.”

Slow down. Nothing about your deal has changed, or needs to change, simply because the hands of the clock change or the calendar flips. The product or service costs nearly the same tomorrow as it does today. Deadlines are usually a power play, pure and simple. 

To fight it:

  • Ask the other side “What’s changing? Why can’t we continue to negotiate?”
  • Use a hypothetical: “If, hypothetically, we decide to continue negotiating, we might be able to enhance our offer.”

On the other hand, most people seem to fall for it. Use it whenever you can. ”This offer is good until Tuesday” works as well as any other tactic. 

 

Negotiation Skills for Winning More Deals, Faster and Getting Better Results

We teach a systematic approach to negotiating based on 4 primary skills – Preparation, Probing, Listening and Proposing. By using these skills in a systematic way, you can negotiate more confidently and minimize your emotional reactions to the other side’s positions, tactics and strategies. 

 

Preparation is the only aspect of a negotiation under your complete control. 

Our Preparation Checklist helps negotiators capture, organize and prioritize the information you gather prior to a negotiation. Your level of effort in preparation directly correlates to your results when the negotiation concludes.

Even with little or no time to formally prepare, the Checklist will help you focus your questions on issues that are relevant to finding a mutually acceptable solution. 

If you want to get paid, use P.A.I.D. to remember these 4 crucial components of every negotiation. 

  • Precedents – Past deals that could affect this deal for both sides
  • Alternatives – What options are available from a highest goal down to a walkaway?
  • Interests – Beyond positions, what does each side really need and want?
  • Deadlines – When does a deal have to be done to satisfy each side? 

Additionally, you should prepare strengths and weaknesses for both sides, a list of your needs and wants, a situation summary, information on the other side’s style, and a script for exchanging value in the negotiation. The more you prepare, the more successful you will be. 

 

Probing is a safe harbor when under pressure. 

Ask questions instead of taking positions or making offers too early in a negotiation. The other side might use tactics to make you concede. Rather than reacting to the tactics, probe to find precedents, alternatives, interests, deadlines as well as their goals and priorities. Your objective is to find leverage for your side. 

Ask these questions to do your preparation on the fly. 

  • Precedents – “How did you come to that price? What are you basing that on?”
  • Alternatives – “What options are you considering?”
  • Interests – “What is important to you? What else? What else?”
  • Prioritizing Interests – “Which is most important? Why is that important to you?”
  • Deadlines – “Is there a deadline? When? Why is that deadline important?”

Notice that we are trying to flush out all of the important factors for the other side before we address each. 

Here is a sample exchange: 

What is important to you?  Price

What else is important to you? On time delivery

What else?  A strong warranty

What else? Those are the top 3

Great. Of those top 3, what is most important and why?

Now you have a list of the decision-making factors and can address each carefully and strategically, with a sense of how they rank in importance to the other side.

 

Active listening is harder than it looks. 

In a negotiation between two or more parties, everyone involved wants to be heard but the parties often spend too much time talking instead of listening. The Greek philosopher Epictetus stated, “Nature gave man two ears but only one mouth so he might listen twice as often as he speaks.” 

You can increase your active listening skills by connecting with the speaker. 

  • Eliminate distractions. Put the phone away. Find a quiet place to negotiate. 
  • Make a point of being ‘present in the moment’ and consciously focus all of your attention on the speaker. 
  • Encourage the other side to continue speaking. “Tell me more about that.”
  • Take notes. When a great idea comes to you and you don’t want to forget, do not blurt it out, write it down so that you can continue to listen without the distraction of trying to remember.

You should also consider your response before replying. 

  • Listen to hear instead of waiting for your turn to speak. When we listen to reply, we tend to miss critical information.
  • Pause for a moment to check your preparation checklist before responding to an offer or position. Don’t ‘wing it’. Use your preparation to full advantage. 
  • If you are asked a tough question which puts pressure on you, answer their question with a question of your own. “I’m interested in why you asked that question? Help me understand.”

Last, you should confirm what was said and agreed to. 

  • Restate, paraphrase and summarize the agreements at the end of a negotiating session. Focus on creating mutual understanding and a clear path to a full agreement. 
  • Follow up in writing to solidify agreements. Sending a short memo of understanding after a session in a negotiation creates a stronger commitment to those agreements. 
  • Deliver on your commitments. Nothing erodes trust and confidence faster than a missed commitment during a negotiation. 

 

Proposing rules to maximize your wins. 

When it comes to proposing, there are four critical skills to use when coming to a final agreement. It is where the results of your hard work and strategy come to fruition. 

  • Be strategic about the first offer. If you both know the market very well, go first in order to ‘anchor’ the negotiation at the best reasonable first offer you can make. If you get the sense that the other side does not know the market very well, let them go first. You ever know what they will say or share. At best you have an offer better than you expected, at worst you know where they stand and can educate them with precedents on the market. 
  • Aim reasonably high (or low). When you do make an offer, whether it is the first or not, make the best (for you) reasonable offer you can based on precedents and other information you have prepared. Reasonable is key here – if your offer is too high (or low), the other side may elect to move on to other options. 
  • Avoid using (or responding to) ranges. A recruiter asks you for a ‘ballpark figure’ for your salary requirements. Experts never reply with “I’m looking for something between $60 – 70,000.” The only number the recruiter heard was $60,000 and you will probably end up slightly south of that low end of your range. Why do we use ranges? Because we are not confident in our ask. Get rid of that crutch. Ask for $70,000 and let them respond. 
  • Don’t accept the other side’s first offer too quickly. If you immediately accept their first offer, they will feel as if they left money on the table. Even if it is a really fair deal for you, pause at least, and counteroffer if it makes sense. Often the other side will feel better about the deal because they will believe they worked for it. 
  • Don’t settle for ‘splitting the difference.’ It is a lazy way to end a negotiation, and the only benefit is a perceived sense of fairness and getting the deal done quickly. Splitting the difference rarely satisfies each side completely and can become a ritual of haggling to meet in the middle on future deals. Use a ‘nibble’ tactic to get something ‘extra’ so you get the bigger ‘win’. 

By combining negotiation strategies with tactics and skill, you can win more deals while also developing long-term relationships. The approach above has helped organizations maximize their results since 1995 and proven that negotiation is a skill anyone can learn to improve outcomes. 

If you are interested in learning more take a look at our various programs (sales training, negotiation training, influence training), give us a call (410-662-4764), or fill out the form below to schedule a call.  

 

Dealing with Difficult Situations: The Bargaining and Negotiation Tactics That Work

Jeff Cochran

0

Sales negotiations are ideally supposed to flow in a mutually beneficial direction. But that’s not always the case. We sometimes run into negotiation counterparts who are downright difficult. In such a challenging negotiation, strong emotions and feelings of desperation may easily set in, increasing the odds of losing the deal.

It is not easy to manage such difficult negotiations, but with the right tactics, you can turn the challenge into an opportunity each time. Here are the tactics to employ if your find yourself in a difficult negotiation situation.

 

Don’t react, stay calm

Being faced with an adversarial or even abusive negotiation counterpart can make you lose your cool. But that will not benefit the negotiation. To keep your emotions in check, start by taking a deep breath.

A deep breath helps you retain your composure by stopping you from plunging into a fight-or-flight response. With your heartbeat and breathing in check, your mind can work optimally to figure out the next smart move.

Even though an unexpected display of anger can frighten some people into making concessions that benefit your interests, this approach can be counterproductive. In most cases, the anger will only convey desperation and not strength on your part. Also, strong emotions tend to cloud your judgment, keeping you from thinking clearly. This could lead you into giving in prematurely.

It helps to retain your composure, take a step back from the hard line, take an objective look at the dispute, and plan your comeback. In all cases, always remain professional as you approach the negotiation.

 

Disarm the other party by acknowledging their points of view

Because everyone wishes to get the advantage in a bargain, the last thing a person will expect is for you to cross over to their side. For a particularly difficult person, this should be one effective way to make them lower their guard.

Start by acknowledging the disagreement as you express the willingness to understand the person’s point of view. Consider acknowledging their position and make it clear that you realize the position is important to them.

Such a concession will go a long way in calming the adversarial negotiator down. What this does is show the person that you are willing to hear them out – people like to be heard and their points recognized.

Take a moment to play along. It doesn’t mean you are drifting away from your standpoint, it’s just a necessary break to create a conducive atmosphere where everyone can be adequately heard.

Encourage the person to talk by asking them solicitous, open-ended questions that help clarify the nature of their hardline position. You’ll notice that this also helps you understand the interests behind the other party’s position. Such understanding also normally helps open your eyes to vistas of alternative ways to resolve the sticking point.

With this, the atmosphere should slowly change from one of conflict into one of collaboration. Ultimately, you’ll be able to respond more accurately to the actual points of concern, rather than just offering general responses to things that you have assumed in your head. Done properly, this tactic should indicate genuine interest to your negotiation counterpart and completely shift the nature of the conversation for the better.

 

Transfer the focus to the less contentious aspects of discussion

Once you have sufficiently understood the nature of the adversarial situation, it is sometimes a good idea to shift attention away from the most contentious item of discussion. This is basically a tactical move to diffuse the tension before you can return to the topic from a less contentious angle.

Reframe the dialog around some items of collaboration. What are the shared interests that you both have? What constitutes the foundation of your working together? Is there a way this deal can help the customer save face? How getting this deal done will be a win for them?

Once you find answers to these questions in your head, it should be easier to remind the other party as to why they should see the deal through. Make them sober up and climb down from their high ground. Make them see why you are on the negotiation table in the first place and it will be easier to get them to say “yes”.

Pointing out the shared interests, helping the customer see why they need the services or product under discussion can be a great way to lead them into making a concession. Then, you can reintroduce the more difficult issue(s) in a more relaxed way once the tension has eased down.

 

Wrap up

As a salesperson, you will sometimes have to deal with a difficult customer. Sometimes the bargaining session may shift in the other party’s direction, and without good preparation, this can easily throw you off balance. However, arming yourself with these tactics should ensure that you survive (and increase your chances of winning) just about any sales situation.

Key Challenges for Effective Procurement Negotiation

Andres Lares

0

The art of negotiation is not rocket science, but it’s not a breeze either—at least not with every supplier you’ll sit across. Some are sharks and the only secret to winning against them is having negotiation skills twice as good as the strongest shark you’ll ever encounter.

Mastering procurement negotiation might be a process but you’ve probably heard the saying ‘train hard, fight easy’.

Good thing is, it’s not always like that… The best-case scenario for a procurement negotiation is concluding with two smiles—yours and the supplier’s, having sealed a deal that favors both parties.

Knowing how to negotiate when decks are stacked against you and when factors are constant, is important. For an effective procurement negotiation, avoid these pitfalls:

 

1. Rushing

You need enough time to negotiate effectively. Sealing a deal in a hurry is a cardinal sin in procurement. Analyze the product and its value, hear the supplier out, make an offer and justify it to the supplier’s satisfaction. Never rush to buy or to seal a deal.

 

2. Lack of information and proper planning

You win half the battle in the preparation stage. Conduct thorough background research on the product and the supplier, have all important details at your fingertips including the supplier’s operational facilities, company history, management profile, their major clients, development plans, and history of performance; and prepare answers for all hard questions the supplier might have.

Suppliers do their homework. Don’t be caught flatfooted. Like Abraham Lincoln, if you have eight hours to chop down a tree, spend six sharpening your ax.

 

3. Closed mind

Remembering both of you want a favorable deal is key in effective procurement negotiation. Flexibility begets the same. Have your non-negotiable demands but don’t be so rigid with other things that you’re only looking at the extra dollar a product will cost, without paying attention to any unique properties or value the product might have or a special deal that’s tied to it. Listen, think, and ask questions.

 

4. Poor communication

Communication is a three-step process: encoding, decoding, reply. You speak, supplier understands, and then responds, and the wheel keeps rolling. If either of you does not listen, or understand, negotiation will stall.

You might have little to no control over how the supplier communicates, but be clear on your end to save the situation.

 

5. Overthinking the power dynamics

As a rule of thumb, never be in awe of the supplier, however big they are. You have what they want however small it is. You might not even know what’s important to them—it might NOT be money. If they didn’t want to have you on their list of clients, they would not be at the negotiating table with you.

Be well versed with the product, understand the market, and stick to your non-negotiable demands, your company’s bottom line, and the walk-away figure. Ask questions too and shoot for the best deal. If the offer on the table doesn’t work for you, it is what it is. Move on.

 

6. Using short-term negotiation tactics with long-term suppliers

It is one thing to want a product real fast and cheap, and another to want the same—great—product for a long-term supply, at the same price. Giving a supplier a thin margin when you have to, is okay, but if you’re looking to establish a cordial long-term relationship, make better offers. Your supplier will stay in business and you’ll be on the priority list.

 

Bottom line

A procurement negotiation is like a tug of war. The savvy supplier is pulling from one end, to squeeze the best deal out of you, and you are on the other side pulling harder to save your company every dollar possible. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll not be the one crossing the line in defeat.

 

Top 5 Essential Negotiation Skills for Salespeople

Jeff Cochran

0

Successful sales are what makes businesses grow. But every so often, a customer will want to discuss the details of your contract with them before signing. Regardless of how well the sales process appears to have gone, your one-one-one interaction with the customer can always make or break the deal.

This is where effective negotiation skills come in. For a deal to survive past the negotiation table, certain skills come handy. So, here are five negotiation sills that a salesperson must possess to succeed in closing deals with customers.

 

Active listening

People want to feel that your product or service is going to solve their problem or satisfy their need. Oftentimes, the prospect wants to see how this is going to happen, and will ask questions that directly link your solution to their need(s).

It is only through active listening that you’ll be able to understand what the customer really wants. Don’t just fix your mind on closing the sale, pay attention to the customer – listen to both their spoken and unspoken messages and provide them with the answers.

When the customer is speaking, allow them to finish. Then, take a brief moment to evaluate the response in your head before you speak it out. The pause not only lets you refine your response but also shows the customer that you truly are thoughtful and interested in what they are saying.

It helps to speak slowly in a composed manner, articulating your words clearly to get the message across.

Whether it’s a face to face or phone conversation, you should be able to get the non-verbal cues that tell you more than the person says. Pay attention to these emotions and respond to them.

This way, you will create an atmosphere of trust and easily build a rapport with your leads. You’ll overcome the assumption that you are simply after the person’s money, and create the indication that you care for their needs.

Active listening enables you to properly address your prospect’s questions and match their focus. This makes it much easier to close sales.

 

Quick decision making

Negotiation is always about give and take. A customer will come with a set of demands, or the acceptable minimums. And you need to know just what concessions you can make and which ones you cannot take without hurting your business.

Since you won’t always know all the angles to expect before reaching the negotiation table, you should be able to make a proper decision in the heat of the moment.

It could be a huge discount that the customer is proposing, or even some extra support. A prospect could ask for premium features or even a bigger package. In any case, being able to evaluate the proposition and making up your mind quickly will be instrumental in letting you close sales before the prospect withdraws their business.

 

Knowledge of the product or service

Persuasion is inherent to any sales negotiation. Unless you are truly knowledgeable about the brand, product or service you are representing, you can easily lose a lead.

The customer simply isn’t looking to hear some unfounded justifications supporting the deal. Rather, they want to know how they’re going to benefit from buying what you are offering. This way, knowledge of the product is an essential sales skill. Demonstrate clear understanding of the products’ features so you can accurately present their benefits to the customer – that’s what persuades the customer to buy.

Also, even though most customers are likely to ask the same questions, there are cases where a customer will ask something particularly new or different. As long as you know your product in and out, you should have no problem navigating your way through any question that arises.

 

Assertiveness

Clear confidence in your brand can go a long way in assuring the potential customer about the value of your solution.

Customers generally respond well to enthusiastic reps who are passionate about their offerings, especially when they’re eager to clearly articulate the benefits.

What this means is, be willing and able to quantify the value of your product or service and share it with the prospect. A prospective client will be much likely willing to pay what a solution is worth if they clearly understand the value of that solution.

It is your job as a sales rep to establish that value and show confidence in your solution in terms of how it will benefit the customer. You will need to be assertive to be able to instil that confidence in the customer and give them a reason to buy.

 

Eloquence

You could have all the great ideas about your solution, but unless you can articulate it, you’ll have difficulty communicating it to the customer.

Though they usually need the solution, most prospects are often undecided whether or not to buy (from you). As a salesperson, it is your role to drive the prospect from their state of indecision to decision and be able to close the sale. Sometimes all you have is only few minutes with the customer. This is where some eloquence, coupled with sufficient knowledge of the product will guarantee a successful pitch.

Use a clear voice to explain the product detail by detail, enunciating all the useful features and linking them to the needs of the customer.  Done correctly, closing a sale will be a near guarantee.

 

Bottom line

Sales negotiations can feel intimidating to salespeople as no one wants to lose a well-qualified prospect. Nonetheless, while every negotiation can go in any number of directions, sales reps with these negotiation skills will be well-equipped to roll with the punches.

User’s Guide to Being the Best Negotiator

Jeff Cochran

0

User Guide NegotiationNegotiations are important for any aspect of life. Sometimes you have to negotiate business deals, what’s for dinner at home, or a sale for a product. Being such a large part of life, it’s important to understand what negotiations are and how to do them well.

 

Negotiations

A negotiation is an agreement among more than one party in regards to a specific topic. People use negotiation in business transactions to find a price or terms to settle on, with family to decide what’s for dinner or how to resolve an issue, or even in sales to find an agreeable price for a product or a home.

Almost everyone uses negotiations on a daily basis, whether at work or at home, and should be able to negotiate well. How do you know if you’re negotiating well? Based on how many time you negotiate and get what you want from it determines whether you negotiate well.

 

Negotiating With Family

Negotiations with family are more difficult than any business negotiations you could face. It’s much easier to stand firm in a business negotiation than it is with a loved one. How do you negotiate with family? Understanding these difficulties can help:

  • Expectations are exponentially higher
  • Logic is more difficult to tolerate
  • Quicker to react
  • More focused on yourself
  • Get ahead of yourself

Having these concerns in mind can make negotiations easier. You can address these issues in advance and understand what your loved one is thinking or feeling while you’re trying to negotiate.

Focusing on expectations can be difficult. It’s important to focus on the things you already know about them and work from there to discuss the problem and reach an understanding and agreement. From there, you can move forward with negotiations to find a solution to the problem.

Working with logic from a loved one is harder than working with logic from a coworker. It’s best to try avoiding logic in any negotiations with a loved one. Hearing logic from someone you care for is usually harder to handle than having them yell at you. It’s important to try focusing on empathy and labels instead of logic when trying to provide answers and explanations.

Negotiating with loved ones raises our reaction time. It’s easier to be sensitive to tone and words from a loved one than a coworker. Focus on understanding that can help avoid an argument during a negotiation. It’s important not to assume certain meanings based on words or tones when your loved one is speaking. Remembering to keep your calm can help you stay focused on the negotiation at hand.

Focusing on yourself during a negotiation with a loved one is similar to playing cards: focusing on your hand causes you to miss what someone else might play. It’s important to pay attention to what your loved one is telling you. Don’t let your own thoughts and feelings keep you from understanding their needs.

Getting ahead of yourself can cause issues for negotiating later. If you’re already set that an outcome will occur or you’ve stopped trying to resolve the outcome, you’re breaking the connection you gained from communication and understanding. You’ll need to mend this connection before you can move forward in negotiating to resolve the issue.

 

Buyer Negotiations

As a buyer, you strive to purchase products at the best prices available. Sometimes this can mean having special negotiation skills to get a top price for the product or service. These skills can help you negotiate top prices:

  • Anchoring
  • Whack back
  • Sticker shock
  • Cherry picking
  • Pencil sharpening
  • Going, going, gone

Anchoring provides a price range for negotiation. For example, telling the seller you want to spend no more than $100,000 for a product or service caps the negotiations at that price. The seller now understands he or she can’t go higher than this price or they’ll lose the sale. It’s an important tactic to keep negotiations in a price range you’re comfortable with.

The whack back is a tactic used by many buyers to push the seller down. It’s a simple “your price is too high” comment to try forcing the seller to lower the price. Most sellers will ask why and try to refute your reasons.

Faking, or seriously having, sticker shock is another buyer tactic. This shock over the price is a hard hit to the seller to make them question their pricing. They might ask why it seems high and try to refute your reasons to keep the price at their level.

Cherry picking is a buyer tactic that can offend the seller. It’s the buyer’s way of getting less product at the same bulk cost. For example, if they ordered 50 shirts and the price came to $2.00 per shirt because of the bulk order, they might try to take 20 shirts at the same bulk price, still paying $2.00 per shirt.

Sometimes negotiators use a tactic called pencil sharpening to try forcing the seller to drop the price by using phrases such as “You need to do better” or “We need this for less.” It’s a way to make the seller feel as though they have no choice but to lower the cost or ask the buyer where the price should be in an attempt to keep them happy and sell.

A final, and harsh, negotiating tactic is the going, going, gone test. It’s the buyer’s way of pushing the seller into a corner with a time crunch. In this tactic, the buyer informs the seller they will be going with a competitor for the product or service if the seller doesn’t agree with the buyer’s price by a specific time and/or day.

People use these tactics in price negotiations on a regular basis and they can sometimes make them tougher to agree on.

 

Business Negotiations

Negotiating in business can mean a lot of things. Maybe you’re negotiating a deal or a job offer. The tougher of the two is generally a job offer and can mean the difference between having the job you deserve and having the job you took. There are ten main rules to follow when negotiating for a job:

  • Get it in writing
  • Keep the door open
  • Information is power
  • Be positive
  • Don’t make decisions
  • Have options
  • Have reasons for everything
  • Be motivated by more than money
  • Understand their values
  • Be winnable

Rule number one says everything should be in writing. In today’s society, people are continuously changing their minds or forgetting what they said. When negotiating for a job, that’s a bad thing. It’s imperative to write everything down as you go. This is a promise to remember every detail in case you need to reference it later.

The second rule is to keep the door open. This one isn’t quite as self-explanatory. It means to hold on to your negotiation power. Don’t give up your power to negotiate the best terms until you’re 100% ready to make a final decision.

Information is the key to the third rule. Don’t give up too much information until you’re ready to agree. If you’ve negotiated every aspect of the job and decided this is what you want and you’re ready to say yes, then go ahead and provide all the information they want.

Positivity makes rule four an important one. Being positive is your most valuable asset. Never seem like you’re getting angry or losing your temper. It’s important to keep a level head and stay positive in order to have the best negotiations. If the person you’re working with feels you’re losing your positive attitude, he or she may feel they’re winning and you’ll settle for whatever they want to give you.

Being the decision maker is what brings rule five into play. It’s important not to be the decision maker in a job negotiation. Be sure to confirm all the details and make it seem like they have the final say in your decision to accept the job. It’s also an option to confirm details and compare this with other offers before making a choice.

Options are important for job negotiations. If you have more than one job offer, you can play this to your advantage to negotiate a better offer for the job you truly want.

Options are also a good way to have reasons for everything, as rule seven tells you. It’s important to have a reason to back up every answer you provide. Without reasons, they believe they can force you into the job terms they want instead of the ones you want.

Money isn’t everything. While it helps to have money, that shouldn’t be your primary focus in choosing a job. Focus on the important benefits or the work environment and worry about the lowest amount of money you’ll settle for if everything else fits.

The values of the company can help you negotiate a better deal. Understanding what they strive for can give you a few selling points to negotiate yourself better terms if you can prove you have those values as well.

Make them want to win you over. Being winnable is about more than just winning the negotiation. It’s always a great feeling when the company feels they have to win you from the competition and they try to do just that.

 

Conclusion

Still unsure about your negotiation skills? Shapiro Negotiations has a team of experts waiting to help. Their knowledge and training allows them to help you become the best negotiator you can be. Contact them now for more information.

 

Why Empathy Is Necessary in Negotiation

Jeff Cochran

0

Empathy is often both the most misunderstood, and least utilized tactic when it comes to business negotiations. However, successful negotiators who understand empathy and how it relates to negotiation, and can put it into practice, can experience a significant difference in their sales. Read on to find out more about empathy and how you can use it to your benefit in your negotiation tactics.

 

What Is Empathy?

Often confused or lumped in together with sympathy, empathy is all about relating to how others feel. Most of us have at one time sent a sympathy card to express feeling sorry for another’s misfortune or loss. Sympathy is what we say we feel for another person’s situation, and while empathy is similar, it goes a little deeper than that.

When you feel and express empathy, it means you truly consider what the other person is going through and understand the range of emotions that they feel as a result. Being empathetic involves being more compassionate, listening more, and imagining yourself “walking around in someone else’s shoes.” It’s often easy to tell the difference between sympathy and empathy because true empathy feels more genuine. It is felt on a deeper emotional level and helps to build trust in relationships.

 

Empathy in Negotiation

In any negotiation, the goal is a compromise or agreement between two parties. It can be very intimidating, especially if dealing with contentious topics. Arguments, discussion, and bargaining can all be part of the process of negotiating. You may feel inclined to rush through a negotiation quickly just to get it over with. But those who are most successful in negotiations know how to listen to the other party so as to understand their side of the negotiation and what their wants and needs are. Taking the time to listen and understand can defuse the tension, and lead to more satisfying results for both sides.

Negotiation usually involves some type of relationship building, and the process of listening and learning about the other party’s views. Empathy is a natural fit for this process, and when utilized can lead to much greater success in getting the other party to agree to your terms and compromises. Try to understand the other point of view by listening more. Vocalize your understanding of their feelings to let them know that you relate to their ideas or needs.

 

How to Be More Empathetic

Using and expressing empathy isn’t always easy, and it’s more than just “being nice” to others. In fact, to be empathetic, you don’t even have to like the other person or their viewpoints, or agree with them. You just need to genuinely understand their side of the negotiation. Some people are naturally better at using empathy, but it is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and honed over time. Here are some steps you can take to practice more empathy in any relationship:

1. Identify your own emotions. Make a mental note of your own feelings whenever you feel happy, sad, angry, or excited. Notice your facial expressions and body language and how they correlate to your inner feelings. When you understand and recognize your own emotions, you’ll be able to identify them in others more easily.

2.Watch for body language. Nonverbal cues include tone of voice, body language, and other hints. These hints can often give more information about emotions than what the other person is saying, and sometimes even contradict the spoken words to reveal true feelings.

3. Listen intently. Ask lots of insightful, open-ended questions of your opponent, but sit back and let them speak. Be open and show genuine interest in their answers.

4.Find common ground. Often called “building a bridge,” this involves discovering shared interests and ideas. Find out especially if there are any shared goals in your negotiation resolution. This can lead to compromise quickly and efficiently.

5. Do not express disagreement, judgment, or get defensive. Even if you disagree on the inside, try to remain as neutral as possible and continue to listen. Judging or attacking ideas can lead to the other person shutting down and delaying resolution.

6. Show you are listening. Encourage the other person to share, smile at them, and use your own body language to express interest, instead of appearing closed off. Relax, don’t cross your arms, and watch your tone of voice to show that you are open.

Practicing these steps in conversations, and in negotiations will demonstrate to the other party that you have empathy. You will find that others will then be able to trust you more easily and open up to you more.

 

Why Empathy Is Necessary

Without empathy in the negotiation process, it can be easy to come to an impasse. Those on either side of the table can just dig in their heels and be less willing to budge. However, when empathy is utilized, the opposing side feels understood, and that their feelings are heard. They may be more willing to understand your side as well, and it may be easier to reach an agreement.

Some people may fear that they can be too empathetic, taking it too far and getting so overwhelmed by the other person’s feelings that they forget their own needs. This can be tricky, but take a step back and remind yourself of your goals in negotiating. Use the insights you’ve gained from listening to the other person and come back to the table ready to reach an agreement. When you understand the other person’s needs and motivations, you can use this information to suggest bargains that will appeal to what they want, ultimately leading you to negotiating success.

Negotiation is an important business skill to master, and practicing empathy can make you a better negotiator. If you want to learn more about negotiation in general and find resources for negotiation training, contact Shapiro Negotiations. We have the necessary experience and tools to help you improve your negotiation skills or train your team through classroom training, consulting, keynote speeches, and virtual options.

 

How to Use Any Negotiation Location to Your Advantage

Jeff Cochran

0

When it comes to negotiating, everyone wants a leg up on the competition. How can we get the best deal for ourselves? There is an abundance of books on achieving an advantage through every conceivable angle in bargaining. One that gets a fair amount of scrutiny is location.

While most experts agree that location can affect the proceedings, not everyone agrees on just how location affects things and what sort of location is best. It seems that different sites offer different advantages and disadvantages. The one you choose may depend on your own skill set.

 

Negotiating at Their Place

While your first instinct might be to avoid playing an away game, there are several reasons why it can be to your advantage. If you feel comfortable with the idea, taking a trip to the other party’s home base can provide you with a few subjective as well as objective advantages.

• Confidence. A willingness to visit the other side’s turf can be a keen demonstration of confidence. Confidence is always a good thing to demonstrate during negotiations and can elicit concessions that otherwise would not have been forthcoming.

• Opportunity. Going to the other side’s place is a chance to demonstrate respect for them. A good negotiation is usually more of a partnership than a battle, and visiting them can set the right tone to achieve that partnership. It also tells the other side that you don’t fear them either.

• Comfort Zone. By allowing the other party to remain in his or her comfort zone, you might make them more amenable to a partnership-based negotiation rather than a more hostile encounter. You may increase the chance of cooperation rather than competition.

• Intelligence gathering. By visiting their site, you afford yourself the opportunity to learn more about them. You might discover what drives them, or where they are weak. Knowledge like that can be an advantage in a critical moment.

• Information. When you go to their place, you deprive them of the excuse that they don’t have certain information on hand. Their files are right there, ready for perusal. It also gives you that same excuse you have just taken away from them.

 

Negotiating on Home Turf

If negotiating on the road can be advantageous, then for the same reasons negotiating at home can give the other party those same advantages. Nevertheless, there are ways to make a home field negotiation work for you.

• Impress. When they come to your home turf, you can put on a display of your strengths. You can show your prowess and influence the way they see you. If they come to the bargaining table properly impressed, you may have an easier time getting concessions from them.

• The Ego Wall. In your office, you can build your own personal Hall of Fame. You can fill it with awards and newspaper clippings and anything else that portrays you in the light you want to convey.

 

Neutral Location Negotiations

A neutral site is often seen as a fair way for both parties to meet in the middle. No one will have the benefit or detriment of a meeting in their own territory. However, even in neutral space, the playing field may not be entirely level.

The site chosen is still likely to be in the orbit of one of the two parties. It can still be a way for one party to be ostentatious about how they do things, or miserly if that is the tactic they have chosen. They can choose a noisy site where communication is difficult, or a place where business negotiations are prohibited. Every choice sends a message of some sort.

 

A Few More Tips for That Extra Advantage

If you can choose the site of the negotiation, you may be able to manipulate things to your advantage. There are a few psychological tricks which studies indicate can be helpful for you at the bargaining table.

• A hot drink. Studies indicate that the temperature of an object we hold in our hand affects the way we perceive the world and other people in it. According to research, when we hold a warm object in our hands, we tend to have “warmer” thoughts about other people. Likewise, a cold object makes us more negative about those around us. If your negotiating partner views you more warmly, you may be able to get better concessions from him or her. The next time you negotiate, you may want to offer the other party a warm beverage.

• A soft surface. Psychologists believe that in our childhood we develop associations with the hardness and softness of objects, and with their smoothness and roughness. Smooth and soft objects are associated with comfort and security, while rough and hard objects the opposite. If you want the other party to drop his or her guard and relax during the negotiations, you might consider providing them with a chair with a soft cushion. Make sure the negotiating table is smooth to the touch. You can combine this with a warm drink for extra effect.

• Seating arrangements. The seating arrangements can have a subtle yet significant effect on how the negotiations turn out. According to some experts, you should arrange the seats based on your strategy. If you plan on establishing a warm rapport with the other party and have a friendly negotiation, it might be better to put the seats closer together. On the other hand, if you want to establish a logical, formal negotiation, it might be better to separate the chairs more. More distance allows for more dispassion and can avoid emotional reactions to objective information.

• The environment. Contrary to what some suppose, an active background with ambient noise and the activity of other people can promote good negotiations. Background activity keeps us alert and aware of the surroundings, which aids in the negotiation process. If your negotiations seem to have reached a stalemate, changing the location might be an emotional cue that gets things going again. If you choose a vibrant background, this can aid your cause even more.

 

Sometimes, even a small advantage can make a big difference. Negotiators are always on the lookout for that small aspect that makes them more competitive as negotiators. Choosing the right location can give you that edge, but be sure you know yourself and your opposing party. Each location comes with drawbacks along with advantages.