Negotiation is tough. It comes naturally to some people. For others it’s hell on earth. But, if we’re in business, it’s something we just have to learn to do.
In most situations, negotiation is not quite as terrifying as the word implies. Fundamentally it’s about working with someone else to find a situation that benefits both parties. That’s the key – it’s about creating a win-win situation so both parties feel they walk away from the table with a resolution that they’re comfortable with.
So how do you achieve this? Firstly, listening is a key attribute. A skilled negotiator enters the discussion with a questioning mindset - not from the position that he or she knows what the outcome will be. That’s not to say you won’t have ideas about where you’d like the conversation to conclude. But don’t take it as a given. Work out a best case, a medium case, a “we can live with it” case and a “we won’t live with it case” scenario even before you go in the room.
And yet, once in the room, you might learn things in the negotiation process which could transform your relationship and take you somewhere different. Have a direction in mind at the outset, but be open minded during the conversations.
Once you’re in the negotiation process, be creative and be patient. Try to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs in some capacity, rather than only suiting one party. Don’t rush people into hasty decisions. In the long term, a mutually beneficial solution builds confidence and trust on both sides, cements long term relationships and promotes repeat business.
Another key element to a successful negotiation is research. The more you know about the other party, the more you can predict their behaviours and second guess their moves. This will give you an enormous advantage. So do your research and get ahead of the game. By understanding their needs and preferences, you will get under their skin and perhaps gain that extra few inches in the negotiation.
Be confident. Believe in what you do and in what you’re selling or negotiating. If you don’t, why should they?
And finally the golden rule of negotiation – know when to walk away. If it isn’t right, it isn’t right. If any amount of negotiation is not giving you enough of what you want, then leave the table. And look to the next deal.
The Big Idea - Up your negotiation technique
January 29 2010