Do you find yourself often getting the short end of the stick when making deals? No matter how much haggling over a deal may feel uncomfortable for you, negotiation is a cornerstone skill to acquire.
Fortunately, you can learn a few tactics to improve your success rates and win better deals. Here are six ideas to win you more triumphs in your meetings.
Enroll in a Negotiation Skills Course
While some people are naturally gifted at it, negotiation is a learnable skill. Strong negotiators master written, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Formal lessons on the subject go a long way in boosting your ability to negotiate well.
Through a negotiation skills course, you can learn to be more intentional about how you come to an agreement. Leaders often think negotiation training is only crucial for sales teams. In reality, no matter where in the organization you work, you'll often be negotiating to perform your work.
Developing your skill, no matter your position, can aid you in reaching personal and organizational goals faster. Enrolling in a course or working with a coach can teach you how to be more:
- Aware of self and others
- Win-win oriented
In sales, leads are possible buyers who may be a good fit to partner with in your quest for success. Though as most skilled negotiators recognize, not every lead is worth pursuing. Some prospects may not be ready to enter an agreement with you just yet. Others may have different needs than what you offer.
Qualifying begins with identifying the qualities of the ideal buyer or partner company. Those qualities will depend on what you're looking for.
For example, if you're a startup seeking success in raising funding, you will probably want to talk to a few venture capitalists (VCs). With your list of possible VCs, you may want to weed out those who have no plans to invest within your industry. To narrow your prospects further, you may have to disqualify VCs who don’t meet your most important criteria. For example, you can save yourself time by eliminating VC’s who want to sell off your company’s assets.
Speak with the Decision Maker
An important detail to establish early on is to ensure you're negotiating with the decision maker. In many corporate setups, your first contact at a company might not have the authority to sign or approve a deal. If you're in discussions with someone lacking power, the decision maker may ask for extra concessions from you.
For instance, say you want to conduct corporate training to staff of a medium-sized company in your area. You secure a meeting with the office manager and reach an agreement on course content and costs. However, the company's CEO reviews the deal and instructs the office manager to ask you for a lower price and a new syllabus design. The new changes can eat into your profit margins when you could have avoided losses by speaking to the CEO from the beginning.
Find Win-Win Solutions
People like supporting those who support them back. So, it’s important to understand what's in it for the other side as well. It’s common for people lacking skills and know-how to think of negotiation as a winner vs. loser competition. Yet, the best agreements are where both sides are happy with the outcome.
Negotiation is a means of resolving differences between people to meet different needs. To win more success, aim at working with the other side to find acceptable solutions. Go a step further and find ways to create more value than the other side expected to gain from the agreement.
Use Time to Your Advantage
According to one study published in the International Journal of Conflict Management, time pressure can influence negotiation processes and outcomes.
If you're in a rush, the other side may take advantage of your urgency. Even when you want the other side to come to a decision fast, don't express your over-eagerness. The side with tighter time constraints potentially has more to lose. Higher time constraints often drive participants to:
- Give in to ambitious and unreasonable demands.
- Agree to quicker, less-thought-out concessions.
- Encourage more agreements in fear of impasses.
- Conduct less exploration of ways to improve the deal.
- Agree to less ambitious targets.
With practice, you can successfully leverage time pressure by imposing deadlines. When the other side doesn't know how long the negotiation will last, they tend to hold back in their bargaining, saving as much as possible for later. With a deadline in sight, people are more ready to reveal their bargaining chips.
Learn to Overcome Objections
Negotiation courses often warn against focusing too much on getting to a “yes.” Instead, teach yourself to anticipate and skillfully manage the “no”s. Understand what the path to an agreement is.
When you pressure the other side into saying yes too early, they might react by getting defensive. The other side may start using “no” as protection, which then delays negotiations from moving forward. Understand that “yes” is a commitment, and most people are wary about what they have committed to.
To prepare for overcoming objections, before discussions spend some time reviewing your previous experiences. What are the common objections you have faced? Are there situations where you felt you lost opportunities due to objections?
List some common objections. Prepare appropriate responses that may move your next negotiation forward. Once the other side expresses an objection:
- Ask questions to clarify their real concerns.
- Acknowledge their concerns and provide information to address those concerns.
- Reframe the other side's concerns. Offer a new perspective of how your offer could be a solution to their problems.
- Use objections to correct any misinformation. Try and bridge the gap between their position and your offer.
About the Author
Laura Jelen is truly passionate about the power of the written word. She believes that through clear, concise writing, content creators have the opportunity to help business professionals develop important new skills which will allow them to grow in their careers.