- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
In business, negotiation happens around the clock and nine times out of ten, it’s usually landing a sale. (The other time would be negotiating a salary or pay rise).
If negotiation scares you as much as running out of TP then this article is for you. Let us show you how to improve your negotiation skills so you can land the deals you want.
Before we get to it, let’s make something clear. Negotiation shouldn’t operate based on the logic that ‘someone’s gotta win and someone’s gotta lose’. Instead, negotiations are about making sure that both sides are happy with what they’ve got.
Unfortunately, most people see negotiation as a ‘winner takes all’ opportunity which is simply not the case. It’s important to know the true framework of how negotiations work before you go in guns blazing.
Where and when should you negotiate?
There is a time and place for everything especially when it comes to negotiating a deal.
As far as where you should negotiate, the location doesn’t necessarily matter. It could be a neutral setting like a conference, or the office space of your client or business.
A negotiation may even happen over the phone or in a Zoom meeting. Either way, the place to negotiate is variable.
Some will say locations for negotiating may come from a position of power (as in, ‘you’re on my turf’) so try to find a neutral location where possible.
As for when you should negotiate, let’s look at the following scenarios:
The original ‘no’
One of the best times to start negotiating is when the prospective client or customer declines the initial offer. Keep in mind that not every ‘no’ is final.
You now have the opportunity to turn a no into a yes. Taking ‘no’ for an answer straight away can kill your chances at striking a deal, so it’s better to approach this strategically.
When things are critically important
In a moment where things are critical, people may be willing to take an approach to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal. This is code talk for ‘I am open to negotiation’. Negotiation is a good approach here rather than giving someone the opportunity to take what they can get.
Your negotiation skills can come in handy when the stakes are high, and you don’t want to speed through the deal without knowing the terms and conditions.
When there is mutual trust
Nobody wants to negotiate with someone that is difficult to trust. If you and the other party have a strong mutual relationship, the level of trust should be as well. At this point, negotiations become much easier to do.
When time is a factor
Time certainly plays a role in the negotiation process as it can put a lot of pressure on both you and a prospective client or customer. The less time you have to work with, the more intense a negotiation will be.
This can lead to decisions that no one wants to make where you are forced to choose the ‘lesser of two evils’.
What are the different types of negotiation?
AKA the scary one. This is when the other party will drive a hard bargain that’s likely to fall apart quickly if you don’t talk the sweet talk. Tip: use a promise of the future and how it can improve both parties.
This involves separate groups or entities (more than two) such as multiple corporations and companies or a business and multiple clients.
This is the most common type of negotiation: the one on one. A principled negotiation pays attention to elements such as mutual gain, a focus on what both parties are interested in, emotional distance, and an objective criteria.
Funnily enough, a team negotiation comprises of a team of people and their special roles. You have person A who leads, person B who observes, and person C who acts as the critical eye of the deal (among others).
When working together, they discuss the positives and potential negatives of a deal before person A lays down the final negotiation.
What are the best negotiation skills to have?
Like with most things, the ability to actively listen is a super key skill to have. You don’t want to be talking 90 percent of the time as you need to hear what the other party is bringing to the table.
This is a term coined by Chris Voss, a former FBI negotiator and author of the book ‘Never Split The Difference’. You want to be authentic and genuinely interested in what the other party are feeling in that crucial moment of time.
Appeal to their emotional state by using words like ‘it sounds like…’ or ‘it seems like’. For example:
- ‘It seems like you want to achieve (this goal)’
- ‘It sounds like you’re feeling uneasy about this’
Always be aware and detect the emotions in the room.
Have a clear plan
In a negotiation, everything needs to be clearly laid out on the table. There are goals that need to be reached, results that need to be achieved and both sides need to know how to get there.
With a clear plan in place, it will make the negotiation process a lot easier and you’ll be less susceptible to compromise on someone else’s terms.
Some tips to improve your negotiation skills
If you want to get better at negotiating, it’s important to take the right steps. Here are some tips that we suggest:
Stop viewing negotiation as ‘I win, you lose’
In all negotiations, it should be about the win-win. Even if one side walks out and it all ends, you both win in the attempt.
More listening, less chatter
As you listen, you gather more information and begin to understand where the other party is coming from. It gives you the change to appeal to the emotions in the room and formulate a deal on the spot that is simply too good to let go.
It may not be the original offer you put forth, but it could be a deal where both of you are still happy.
Master the art of timing and research
There are good and wrong times to negotiate. For example, if you as an employee are wanting a raise, you need to keep track of how much the business is making in sales to pick the best time to ask.
As a business owner, you may notice that a client you want to snatch had a record sales quarter. This is a good time to lock them in as a new client at a higher price than your previous deals.
As you can see, doing your homework makes the difference between striking a deal or having one blow up in your face.
Talk to an expert
If you have a big deal on the horizon, our Lisnic Experts are here to help. They don’t just have good negotiation skills…they are awesome at it.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell