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Strategies and Tactics for Small Business Negotiations

Jeff Cochran

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Small Business NegotiationSmall business owners face numerous challenges, and most of them need to wear many hats during the earliest days of their companies. In many cases, it’s necessary for a small business owner to be just as comfortable behind a cash register serving customers as sitting at a bargaining table negotiating with potential business partners. They must also contend with marketing issues, maintaining cash flow, managing overhead, and hiring and training new employees.

In virtually every one of these and many other scenarios small business owners will face, negotiation tactics will come into play. It’s necessary for modern small business owners to understand the elements of negotiation and implement effective negotiation strategies in every aspect of running their companies, eventually becoming savvy negotiators themselves. Learning effective negotiation strategies is essential for any small business owner.

 

Know Your Objective

The average small business owner can likely list at least a few ongoing objectives, immediate objectives, and long-term objectives when it comes to running their businesses. One of the most important elements of effective negotiation is knowing your current objective and gearing the negotiation toward helping you accomplish that objective. However, it’s vital to maintain a clear understanding of the big picture and not become too focused on an immediate objective, such as closing a sale, that one becomes fixated to the point of developing tunnel vision.

One of the most common negotiation mistakes small business owners make is sacrificing long-term success for short-term gain. An effective negotiator will know when a win-win is possible for both sides of the bargaining table, when to be more aggressive, and when to back off because they understand the bigger picture and remain faithful to their objectives.

 

Preparation Is Crucial

Never run into any type of negotiation unprepared. While some negotiations may unfold unexpectedly, it’s a good idea to prepare whenever the situation allows. This is a multifaceted concept. Preparation involves the research you conduct on the other party, their needs, goals, and what they can offer your business before negotiations take place. However, it also applies to preparing yourself before responding to the other party’s proposal or responding to a counteroffer to your own proposal. Prepare before sitting down at the bargaining table, but also take to prepare before every one of your responses.

Whenever possible, conduct research on the other party prior to negotiations. Digging in the right places can reveal all kinds of opportunities for you to strengthen your bargaining position and achieve more desirable results. While negotiating, remain cool and take your time before responding so you can articulate your thoughts appropriately and steer the conversation in a favorable direction.

 

Never Be Intimidated

Small business owners will need to quickly adjust to facing aggressive bargaining tactics. Many negotiators believe aggression is the key to getting what you want, and this approach is more effective than you might realize. If the other party has taken the time to negotiate with you, then you must have something to offer them. Don’t be intimidated by strongarm negotiation tactics and give ground when you don’t need to make concessions. A small business owner who encounters unexpectedly aggressive negotiation tactics from another party should think carefully about why the other party might be taking this approach; your analysis could reveal a valuable insight and actually strengthen your bargaining position.

Too many small business owners fall into the trap of feeling uncertain in the face of an aggressive bargainer. If you encounter this kind of situation, maintain your confidence, and do not allow yourself to appear shaken or easily swayed; this will only cause the other party to press harder. Show the other party you are unphased and aim for creating a win-win scenario instead of  just “winning.” Responding with aggression of your own will likely lead to a breakdown of negotiations and neither side will get what they want.

 

Understand the Roles of Perception and Emotion in Negotiation

One of the most important negotiation strategies for any small business owner to develop is the ability to discern how the other party perceives one’s bargaining position and displaying appropriate emotional responses. The way the other party perceives you will strongly influence their participation in the negotiation. When your emotional responses indicate that you are passive, disinterested, or aloof, the other party may take this as an insult and negotiations will begin to break down. The same thing might happen if you demonstrate overconfidence, arrogance, or bullish negotiation tactics.

When you demonstrate a cool, calm, and collected attitude you are generally perceived as someone with a solid bargaining position. The other party will recognize this and likely aim for the same type of win-win scenario you want to create. Vocal tone, body language, and emotional displays are all crucial elements of any kind of negotiation, and all parties involved will make various inferences based on these variables.

These tactics may seem like basic negotiation principles, but it is incredibly common for small business owners, especially new ones, to put them into practice effectively. The right small business negotiation strategies can make a tremendous difference in a small company’s early growth.

5 Qualities of the Best Negotiation Training Courses

Andres Lares

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Best QualityNegotiation training can offer tremendous benefits to virtually any organization. Regardless of whether your company offers products and services to other businesses, consumers, or both, your team could learn valuable skills and expand on their existing negotiation skillsets by participating in the best negotiation training courses. More extensive self-assessment, exposure to new negotiation concepts, and better sales outcomes are just a few of the potential benefits of investing in the best negotiation training programs.

If you are interested in having your team participate in any type of negotiation workshop, it’s important to know the essential qualities of the best negotiation training courses. These courses are an investment, so be sure you get your money’s worth and choose a program that addresses your organization’s unique needs. Look for the following qualities as you narrow down your search for the best negotiation training solutions for your team.

 

Practicality

Consider the size of your team and the scope of training you want them to experience. The best negotiation training program for your organization may be very different than the best option for one of your competitors. Be practical as you determine which option would be the best negotiation training solution for your team. For example, if you run a small operation with only a handful of sales representatives, a massive classroom-oriented workshop may not be an ideal investment. Similarly, if you intend for every member of your organization to participate in the training program, make sure the provider offers the right course formats to meet your needs.

You may also need to juggle some logistics to make sure your team experiences the full range of the negotiation training solutions you choose without sacrificing productivity. For example, if a training provider offers a series of three half-day courses in a program, you should try to arrange half of your team to participate in the sessions while the other half remains on-task with business operations, and then switch so your productivity doesn’t take a significant dip during training.

 

Customization Options

Some boxed programs can offer insights and effective training, but they may not address industry-specific pain points your team experiences on a regular basis, and they may not offer the type of training you expect. For example, if you have a seasoned team of sales representatives who simply want to strengthen their negotiation skills, you probably don’t need entry-level negotiation training modules.

The best negotiation training courses offer their clients the ability to customize their training programs to address specific issues and provide learning opportunities geared toward specific business objectives. Find a provider that allows you to tailor your training program to your business’s specific needs and goals when it comes to strengthening your negotiation skills.

 

Simulation-Driven Training

One of the best ways to learn is by doing. The best negotiation training courses offer some type of hands-on training modules and not simply instruction-based training. Simulations are incredibly effective when it comes to honing sales negotiation skills. If you want your team to have the best negotiation training experience possible, you should find a provider who offers the chance to put new concepts into practice in simulation exercises. It’s likely that most members of your team have completed some form of business school already, so basic lecture-style training will only offer so much in terms of growth and expanding on your team’s existing skills.

 

Experienced Training Facilitators and Instructors

If you’re going to invest in negotiation training for your organization, you want to work with the best negotiation training instructors and facilitators who can address your team’s unique needs and goals. As you search for the right provider, pay close attention to their credentials and professional experience. Most of the best negotiation training courses involve instructors and facilitators who have years of experience and success behind them in sales, influence, corporate leadership, and various other important topics.

Take time to research potential providers and look at past client testimonials and reviews on third-party sites like Google. These reviews can provide a tremendous level of insight and allow you to gain a better understanding of what it will be like to work with a provider before committing to expensive training courses. The best negotiation training courses should offer everything from entry-level sales training for representatives fresh out of business school to executive education for the highest levels of leadership in your organization.

 

Objective-Driven Training

If you want your team to learn the most effective negotiation concepts and put them into practice, a general overview of negotiation simply won’t suffice. You should invest in a negotiation training program that offers objective-driven instruction. This means every module of the learning path should gear toward accomplishing specific goals rather than offering generic advice. The best negotiation training courses will identify your team’s pain points and opportunities for growth and then provide objective-driven learning tools to help your team meet a wider range of situations with confidence.

Take your time to find the best negotiation training solution for your team. This is an important investment, so you want to do extensive research before committing to a program. If you take time to find a solution that addresses your unique business goals, you’ll find the investment well worth the time and expense in the long run.

What Negotiation Training Options Would Benefit My Team Most?

Andres Lares

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Negotiation ClassHow confident are you in your team’s negotiation skills? Do you have at least one person on your team you consider to be a skilled negotiator, or do you tend to handle the negotiation end of your business dealings personally? An important part of business leadership is acknowledging your team’s strengths and capitalizing on them while simultaneously identifying and addressing gaps in their skillsets. Negotiations training courses can be a tremendously potent investment for any business leader who wants to take their organization into the future with confidence.

If you are considering negotiation training for your team or think participating in negotiation workshops could be beneficial, you should know the full range of options available that can provide effective negotiating training to you and your team. If you haven’t yet considered negotiations training courses, step back and analyze your negotiation skills and determine whether you could benefit from such programs.

 

Benefits of Negotiations Training Courses

No matter how experienced you might think you are at negotiating, things can always go awry or you may face an unfamiliar situation with no idea of how to proceed. Top negotiation workshops can provide you with a firmer understanding of the essential negotiation skills you need to carry your business forward. Some of the benefits your team can enjoy by investing in negotiations training courses include:

  • More robust self-assessment tools to identify your strengths and opportunities to improve.
  • Honing your conflict resolution skills, which can help you achieve your best alternative to a negotiated agreement should negotiations fail.
  • More effective preparation, both in terms of pre-negotiation research as well as formulating appropriate responses during negotiations for more successful bargaining.
  • Better results. Skilled negotiators have a higher chance of successfully navigating toward positive outcomes in all types of negotiation.
  • Increased confidence. When your team is aware of the latest negotiation tactics and learns how to leverage them effectively, you can approach a more diverse range of situations with greater confidence.

This is not an exhaustive list, and the benefits of negotiation workshops will vary from team to team. Once you understand the options available when it comes to negotiations training classes, you can determine which type would benefit your team the most or experiment with multiple training types.

 

Online vs. Classroom Training

You can find very high-quality negotiations training courses that provide your team with robust training modules delivered via online portals. This can be incredibly convenient, allowing your team to work through these classes from the comfort of their own workspaces or even at home in some cases. However, some people learn more effectively and retain information better when they participate in classroom-style training sessions.

Think carefully about which type of training your team would enjoy and benefit from the most. It may be possible to conduct both types of training in some cases, such as an online training course enhanced with more in-depth classroom sessions that may lead to better retention. Effective negotiating requires drawing on a wide range of topics, and it’s vital to expose your team to all of them without overwhelming them.

 

Customized Negotiation Training Solutions vs. Boxed Training Programs

If you’re considering your options when it comes to negotiations training courses, you should determine whether your team needs a customized program or if a boxed program would suffice. However, more experienced teams and sales teams working in highly specialized fields will likely need a more in-depth training course that addresses their business-critical operations.

Remember, your sales team aren’t the only members of your organization that require negotiation training. Every member of every organization needs to know how to negotiate effectively, from your sales representatives to your project managers and business leaders. A boxed solution may not provide effective training to every level of your organization, but it may be more affordable than more robust customized negotiations training courses.

 

Class Length

It’s no secret that many people working in the business world dread participating in training workshops. However, there are just as many people who enjoy these opportunities both as a break from their day-to-day operations as well as opportunities to learn new skills. As you weigh your options for negotiation workshops for your team, consider class length. Do you think your team would benefit from quicker sessions that only take a few hours a day, or would a lengthier, more in-depth program spanning several full days offer a greater benefit?

Take a close look at your available negotiation training options. They will probably offer different class lengths, different topic coverage, and vary in other ways that you should carefully examine before committing to any of them. When it comes to class length, consider how much time your team can spare to participate in training without neglecting business-critical tasks.

 

Consider Class Size

To take advantage of negotiation training courses, you need to ensure the course providers can serve your whole team efficiently. Take a look at the class sizes offered. Does the program offer enough space for everyone in your sales team to participate, or do you plan on having every level of your organization participate in negotiation training? Before committing to any type of negotiation workshop, make sure the provider can handle the class sizes you need.

Think about the available class sizes and consider sending in teams to participate in training one at a time. This could not only help ensure everyone you want to participate in the training has the opportunity to do so, but also ensure your business-critical operations aren’t neglecting throughout the training.

 

Choose Negotiations Training Courses Built for Your Needs

Once you consider all of the variables necessary for finding the best possible training program for your team, you can take advantage of everything the program has to offer. Even the most skilled negotiator needs to stay up to date on the latest negotiation trends and tactics to stay sharp, and effective negotiating skills are potent assets at all levels of your organization. Think carefully about the type of negotiation training courses that would benefit your team the most.

Negotiating in an Insight Sales Environment

Andres Lares

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Thanks to technology, customers are savvier than ever. A myriad of options are available for their consideration at the touch of a button – pricing data, user reviews, expert analysis, independent research, etc., making the buying process a looping, iterative engagement rather than the historical “feature – benefits – value” process of days gone by. Consider this – for the first time ever buyers are more than halfway through their purchasing process before they even reach out to sales!

In 2017, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reported that, “U.S. companies spend over $70 billion annually on (sales) training, and an average of $1,459 per salesperson — almost 20 percent more than they spend on workers in all other functions.”[1]  Despite this significant investment of money and lost time in front of customers, the article reported ‘lackluster’ results for ROI, which can be elusive when measuring sales results in a fast-charging and changing marketplace. Why do disappointing results most commonly happen? Based on our 25 years of experience, SNI believes when training falls short it’s often because they miss one or more of these critical success factors:

  • Experiential – Should be simulation-based, this is what anchors the learning
  • Relevant – The answer to “how do I use this tomorrow?” must be obvious
  • Customized – Not only to the company, but to the specific role
  • Reinforced – It cannot be a one-time training event
  • On-going accountability – Requires management buy-in, on-going coaching, etc.

Yet, through all of the successes and failures companies continue to train. Perhaps it is because they believe they will get it right, even against the odds. Or, because they feel that regardless of impact on performance it will at least help employee retention. Or, because even if not perfect, companies expect a positive return on investment, which makes it worthwhile, even if not a home run. The motivations behind each organization are very difficult to deduce, but, what we do know is that there is a recipe for success, that if followed, makes it VERY likely that organizations will be satisfied with the result.

 

Negotiation is a Key Sales Skill…. and We are Expert Negotiators

SNI has 25 years of experience negotiating deals and teaching a proven process for negotiating with today’s informed buyer. We build foundational habits for negotiating, which are customized to align, enhance and reinforce your existing sales training and processes. Whether it is SPIN, Challenger, Insights, Sandler System, or any other out there, we have come behind it and helped optimize its results. It is what we do. We are experts on negotiation, and our training rarely fails to produce measurable results in concert with your sales model. What makes negotiation training in particular so attractive? How close it is to the bottom line. Revenues and margin are two easy ways to measure training impact – we are strong proponents of measuring those or other KPIs pre and post training.

 

We Know a Lot about Sales Training

The SNI team travels the world to design and deliver training that ‘fits’ the needs. From professional services to software to manufacturing to banking and even pharmaceuticals, we have seen just about every sales training out there. We learn new insights every single time. We ensure that our process not only references, but directly utilizes and reinforces the sales training your team has already received.

SNI stays focused on the art of influence and motivation while supporting your organization’s choice of sales methodology. We get right in the middle of it, while staying out of it. We see no need to overcomplicate things.

 

We Help Accelerate Your ROI Investment in Sales Training

HBR points out that sales training ROI can be hard to nail down. For example, Richardson is a leading sales training company.[2] We see their training all over the world, because it’s good and it works. Their Selling with Insights program teaches sales reps what to do in order to learn skills to help run engaging, productive sales calls; provide insights; link their prospects’ objectives and pain points to available solutions; resolve objections and resistance, and more.

They learn what to do in the classroom, practice it and then they go out and try it. Some skills have immediate impact while others take longer to develop in real situations.

Our negotiation program helps them learn different ways how to do it. SNI’s negotiation and influence programs reinforce and expand the skills delivered in Selling with Insights by coming in behind that program to re-examine, reinforce and apply new techniques to emerging skills in real situations.

 

We Deliver Just-in-Time and/or Customized Training Reinforcement

A critical strategy for making sales training ‘stick’ is to keep building on existing knowledge and skills. In a 2017 Forbes article, the author states: “Now that technology allows multimedia training and development, it’s easier than ever to reinforce the training to ensure the sales force has reinforcement through additional time and content, as well as virtual coaching. If you want change to stick, you need to be willing to stay the course for 24 months.”[3]

SNI has always felt that reinforcement is imperative to the success of training (see above list of critical success factors). As a result, SNI offers a mobile application, wallet cards, coaching field guides, online interactive sessions, video-taped roleplay, VR and AI based applications, integration into CRMs, and many other forms of reinforcement. Ultimately these are what bridge the gap between training and performance improvement and ensure long lasting accountability.

 

Preparation for Confidence and Direction

SNI’s Preparation Checklist tool helps sales professionals gather and organize information about the customer’s needs by looking at precedents, alternatives, interests, deadlines and other pertinent data prior to starting a dialogue. The confidence that comes from preparation before engaging the customer will enhance your sales process by forming a negotiation strategy to maximize results.

SNI customizes the Preparation Checklist to work with your pre-call planners, opportunity plans, value plans and account plans so your sales team isn’t overwhelmed or paralyzed by analysis or wholesale change.

For example, for those that have gone through Selling with Insights, alternatives would have a sales person think through what he/she offers other than money, strengths and weaknesses would be a tool to ensure one is not intimidated by the competition, strategy is a reminder that you have the right to suggest and direct the conversation appropriately, etc.

 

Probing for Information and Insights

SNI’s probing techniques allow for a natural, non-interrogative way to lead the conversation into a collaborative discussion of possible solutions, which in many cases leads to a more mutually satisfactory outcome. It is a standalone tool for deeper discovery – to truly understand what motivates the other side. However, how it is implemented is customized – for example, with one recent client that had just implemented Selling With Insights, the model fit into their questions around – what are the challenges, impact, need, and what does the other party really care about?  Not only did our negotiating training reinforce many of the sales training concepts, it also provided the sales organization with several additional tools and skills to implement them immediately, with precision, and to accomplish sustained success.

Simply stated, we help people close more deals, faster and with better outcomes.

 

Proposing to Maximize Results

In order to improve a sales organization’s ability to propose solutions, we put them through a simulation that reinforces good closing behavior while teaching strong skills for exchanging value and generating mutual satisfaction. It is a tough simulation that often allows them to self-discover areas of deficiency, which then allows us to provide several fundamental rules for effective proposing that lead to the close. This experiential-based teaching methodology allows participants to remember how it felt when they succeeded (or failed) in their closing behaviors.

Most ‘margin leak’ happens in the final stages of a negotiation, and our guidelines align with the desired outcomes of every sales opportunity. Using SNI’s rules for proposing gives sales professionals a way to protect margins by not leaving money on the table.

 

How to Make More, Faster….with Better Margins

Are your sales-people feeling overworked yet not producing the results you or they expect? Are your margins eroding? Are you feeling commoditization pressure from your clients? Are there new competitors in the space? These are the types of challenges that lead some of the most successful organizations in the world to call on SNI. We solve that problem by enveloping our skills and techniques around your sales process if you have one, or a standalone negotiation process if you don’t. We see no need to reinvent the wheel…let’s focus on making what works for you today even better tomorrow.

We put sales professionals into familiar scenarios, using language they know and giving them opportunities to explore how new negotiation skills can help drive better conversations without giving in to the temptation to sacrifice pricing and terms to close deals. They learn how and when to share information, ask better questions and make more insightful proposals. This builds on and accelerates any form of sales skills development.

Give us a call at 410-662-4764 if you are interested in learning more about SNI and how we work with an organization to optimize selling through the addition of negotiation and/or influence skills.

References:

[1] Harvard Business Review, June 12, 2017, Your Sales Training is Probably Lackluster. Here’s How to  Fix It. Cespedes and Lee.

[2] Hubspot Academy. Richardson ranked #6 in 2019 for Onsite Sales Training Programs. Originally published Aug 1, 2019 10:31:00 AM, updated December 03 2019

[3] Iannarino, Anthony, Four Ways to Make Sales Training Stick. Forbes, Sept. 19, 2018.

Benefits of Investing in Negotiations Classes for Your Organization

Jeff Cochran

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From learning the basics of arithmetic and reading in childhood to honing a professional career through specialized classes as an adult, education is an important part of all aspects of life. Likewise, from policy topics and concepts down to the types of pencils available in the classroom, all the decisions we make to promote education matter. Experience is also important, but education is what helps us recognize gaps in our existing knowledge about multifaceted topics so we can grow and put certain concepts into practice more effectively.

Negotiation is one of the most pivotal aspects of modern business. Even if your organization does not seem to be too focused on competition, negotiation happens every day throughout all levels of a business, often unrecognized. Negotiation does not always involve a formal setting designed specifically around negotiating a particular topic; it happens in lots of informal settings and seemingly as part of regular conversation all the time. Comprehensive negotiations classes can help business leaders and their teams prepare for these interactions better, learn how to ask the right questions, and practice the art of true listening.

 

A Negotiations Course Will Help You Identify When You Are in a Negotiation

One of the most important parts of successful negotiations is preparing for them accordingly, but it can be difficult to predict when some negotiations will take place. A negotiation course from an experienced training group can help your team recognize when negotiation skills should come into play. Once they acknowledge that any type of negotiation is taking place, they can begin drawing upon their skills and acquired knowledge to successfully navigate the interaction regardless of the circumstances. The ability to accurately identify negotiations and respond appropriately is a critical skill in the modern business world.

 

Learn How to Probe for Information Successfully

Preparation is the first step in successful negotiation but probing for information is arguably the most important. To successfully navigate any type of negotiation, you need to have as much information about the subject of the negotiation as possible, ideally before negotiations actually begin. Probing for information happens in two main ways – one, research your conduct prior to the negotiation and, two, what you can discover during the negotiation itself by asking the right questions. Participating in a negotiations course can teach your team how to glean as much information as possible before and during a negotiation so you can achieve the most desirable results.

 

Hone Your Proposal Skills

Any type of negotiation hinges on proposals. Typically, a negotiation will start with some kind of proposal, and then the responding party can accept, reject, or counter the proposal with their own terms. This may go back and forth until the parties reach agreeable terms or it could lead to a breakdown of negotiations and all parties will simply walk away from the table. Negotiations classes can teach your team how to draft better initial proposals and navigate the back-and-forth proposals common to many different types of negotiations.

 

Learn How to Really Listen

Listening is much more than simply waiting your turn to talk. It’s acknowledging a speaker, taking in everything they have to say, and inferring the intentions behind what they say. A negotiation course can help your team learn how to listen more effectively, how to pick up on subtle intonations, and how to discern a negotiator’s intentions based on body language and reading between the lines.

 

Overcome Objections to Your Proposals More Gracefully

One of the most important arts of negotiation is how to handle objections, or how to navigate toward your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Negotiations classes can teach your team how to identify when the other side is disagreeable toward a position as well as a range of conflict resolution tools to help salvage negotiations that fall into murky territory. Sales negotiation in particular hinges on appropriate conflict resolution to not only secure sales but to also preserve the reputation of a business. Even if your negotiations do not result in sales, with the right negotiation training, it is still very possible to leave the table having made a positive impression on the other side.

 

Expand Your Arsenal of Negotiation Tactics

Negotiation is a combination of several constantly shifting concepts. While many seasoned negotiators develop a skill set or reliable policy they rely on for most of their negotiations, it is essential to learn new ways to approach negotiation and develop new tactics. Negotiations can be unpredictable, so your tried-and-true method of navigating a negotiation may be nullified by certain scenarios. A negotiation course could involve new negotiation models, simulations, and valuable self-assessment tools to identify gaps in your negotiation skill set.

Even if you and your team are confident in your sales negotiation skills, negotiations classes can be an incredibly potent investment that helps your team prepare for the future, handle unpredictable negotiation situations more gracefully, and reach more positive outcomes through your professional negotiations in the future.

Negotiating Strategy: How to Compromise to Win

Andres Lares

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.