Do you ever feel as though you have to put on your armor when you're negotiating with a prospect or client? Have you ever wished you could find a way to negotiate that was strong and firm -- yet creative and consultative at the same time? Would you like to be able to state what you want...and still be seen as a partner? If so, read on.
The negotiation phase really can be a time to use negotiations skills training to build a relationship and speak honestly and directly with the other party. Even if with a one-time negotiation, you don't need to use tricky "lines" or similar tricks to get what you want. Most people are willing to be flexible during negotiations, if they believe the other party perceives them as knowledgeable, honest and able to make a deal.
Here are three key negotiations skills training strategies to keep in mind when negotiating.
1. Have a game plan or strategy.
Your game plan or strategy is a starting point -- a brief outline of what you would like to accomplish and how. It is not a rigid rulebook to be appealed to throughout the negotiation, no matter what. You are working with another human being, someone who doesn't appreciate being "backed into a corner" any more than you would. Set a strategy, with clear goals and possible tactics, but be willing to revise it using your negotiations skills training as circumstances and your most important interests warrant.
2. Begin with the right mindset. Most people go into negotiations thinking one of two things:
"I have to win at all cost. I don't want to look stupid. I have done my homework and, by gosh, I know what X, Y, and Z cost. I am not going to be taken advantage of!" or "Please, please, just be reasonable and give me X, Y, and Z without a hassle. I really don't want to fight with you over this."
Do you see any problem with these approaches? Each one has faith in you but not the other party. That belief immediately makes using your negotiations skills training difficult. If you believe the other party will try to take advantage of you, then you lose your biggest edge - the perception that the other person will do anything they can do to help you. That's the mindset you have to start with. Believe me, people can tell whether you believe in the best or worst of them. They will try to live up to either expectation.
3. Know what kind of person you're dealing with. This is the biggie, and it's the subject I will spend the most time on here.
Most people make the mistake of assuming there is a single list of "tough negotiating tactics" that works with everyone. When I first started negotiating multi-million dollar deals, I really felt I had to have all these "hardball tactics" in place. I practiced saying, "Is that the best you can do?" in a mirror with a serious face. Hardball was my style. I liked to negotiate fast and I liked to win!
But there was something missing. I noticed that every time I went to negotiate, I had to roll up my sleeves and out-think my opponent again. The process got combative, it just plain wasn't fun, and I don't believe I always got the best deal I could. I was leaving out the human equation -- what makes different people tick.
What I am about to share with you works whether you love to negotiate or you hate it with a passion. It works whether you know whom you are negotiating with ahead of time or you are surprised on the spot. It often results in your leaving the table with more than you came to ask for! (That's what my clients have told me, and it's also my personal experience.) The challenge is that what you're about to learn does require negotiations skills training, practice and thought to execute well.
Ask yourself, what is the communication style of the other person and how does that affect how she or he negotiates?
Not every person negotiates from the same point of view. Each person has a different stake in a negotiation and you need to know what concerns the other party the most. You also need to know what your own style is. Most people negotiate in the style they are most comfortable with and they try to bring the other party around to their way of thinking.
This doesn't work, for reasons that will become clear to you shortly.
Let's briefly run through the four main negotiating styles from our negotiations skills training. (A word of caution--use all the following information as a guideline - not as absolute truths about people. You don't want to box others in or simplify things too much.)
Connecters are down-to-earth, warm, friendly and caring. Connectors are people-oriented; they want you to like them. They usually have very open body language, are congenial, have a nicely decorated office with family photos and plants, and are neatly dressed and friendly. They will usually focus directly on you during the negotiation.
To interact effectively with Connectors, be open, honest and start with some small talk. Get to know them as people.
Networkers desire fun, excitement, and applause. They like to win arguments. They like the big picture, and they are usually not good at details. Their office will be decorated with pictures of trips, fun events and family. They will be congenial and friendly and may spend 70% of the negotiation focusing on small talk. Over the phone, they will be chatty and make you feel connected right away. They will often jump from topic to topic in their conversation with you.
To interact effectively with Networkers, show them how this negotiation will benefit them and their company. Even when you are asking them to make tough decisions, point out why it is better to make this difficult decision now than to wait.
Producers are direct, to the point, goal-oriented and frequently in a hurry. This is probably the best known -- and most feared -- style for negotiation. They think fast, move fast and talk fast. Over the phone, they will be abrupt and cut to the chase. They may interrupt you. Their office is usually neat with several strong stamps of personality -golf trophies, work trophies, elegant pictures or statues.
The good news is you do not need to be mincemeat to succeed with Producers. They are usually not out to eat you up, but they are out to get a good deal. Realize that this is the one personality style that will not usually take the first deal offered. So offer a good deal, but be prepared to make small concessions.
Analyzers tend to be straightforward. They desire accuracy and want the details first...then the big picture. They generally don't like a lot of chitchat. They want to get to the meat of the discussion right away. Their office is likely to be bereft of any personal touches, but it will probably feature stacks of data and information.
If you try to "strong-arm" an Analyzer during a negotiation, you will lose. Remember accuracy is vitally important to this person. They want facts, figures and yes, it does matter if you need fifty widgets rather than fifty-two. Come armed with as much factual information as possible.
Putting it all together:
Once you start noticing and looking for the personality styles, you will be able to spot them easily. And once you stop worrying about you and focusing on what the other person is trying to do, negotiations become less about winning and more about connecting.
The bottom line: Make sure you add value to the other person. This is why it is so important to be able to read the other person's personality style and speak from his or her perspective. If you ignore someone's hot button or try to pull him or her over to your style of communication, you will lose the negotiation. Have a game plan, be flexible with it, read the other person effectively, and add value by speaking from the other person's perspective. If you do this, you will find that negotiations are really "brainstorming sessions" not battle sessions.