Come PreparedHave you ever been in a negotiation where you felt outmatched and that you didn’t stand a chance? It’s common to see smart yet unprepared professionals looking lost and out of their depth in meetings. In most settings, thorough preparation beats charm and charisma. Before you enter your next negotiation, take the time to prepare on the following points:
- Have a clear strategy.
- Whether online or in real life, choose an appropriate negotiating style.
- Identify your key objectives and the other side’s goals.
- Prepare viable walk-away alternatives.
- Research the other side, and list pre-meeting questions.
- Create alternative deals.
- List and rank possible trade-offs for value exchange.
- Set and share the meeting agenda to take early control.
Put Together a Successful TeamHave you ever brought a friend along when buying a car? Having that friend on your side can work in your favor to keep your emotions in check and to offer extra insights. In high-stakes business talks, having a team behind you has an even more significant effect. Your team members likely are professionals with subject matter knowledge and experience. Unlike the tag-along friend, members of a professional team typically have a stake in winning a positive outcome. To build a successful team, create the right mix of people. For instance, you may recruit a number person from finance, a charismatic talker from sales, and the CEO as a decision-maker.
Keep Internal Conflicts Out of NegotiationsWhen building your team, work to resolve any internal conflicts before meeting the other side. For example, does the sales VP favor a strategy to increase profit margins while the marketing team favors expanding market share? Such conflicts don’t escape notice and often provide a significant advantage to the other side. The other team could use your division to control the course of negotiations and play your members against each other.
Negotiate with the Right PersonNot all contacts have the authority to revise a deal or sign off on agreements. Negotiation courses teach that the person you want to talk to is the one who has the final say or is a key member of the decision-making unit. Managers, C-level execs, and business owners often have the power to bind an agreement. To negotiate with the decision-makers:
- Research the company to identify the decision-makers.
- Use LinkedIn and online company profiles to learn more about the decision-makers and the positions they hold.
- Connect with an associated gatekeeper, such as a personal assistant.
- Ask qualifying questions, such as “who else in your company has to sign off on this agreement?”
Harness the Power of EmotionsEmotions can derail communication and rational thinking. Expert negotiators use their skills to identify feelings and use those feelings to influence decisions. Negotiating courses can equip leaders in developing emotional intelligence (EQ) using techniques based on empathy, counselling, and psychology. Levelling up your EQ needs active listening, keen observation, and body language skills. If you know how to identify and use emotions, you will likely enjoy the upper hand in negotiations.
Ask QuestionsAsking guided questions is one of the main ways you can identify what drives the other side’s actions. Questions aid you in extracting vital information and uncovering hidden needs. Asking questions makes the other team feel their needs are your priority, too. So, the right questions can allow the other side to feel in control and can inspire them to reveal more. You can encourage the other side to reveal more details by asking them for help. For instance, use questions with the words “why,” “who,” “what,” “when,” or “how.” Examples are:
- What can your company do to help us deliver faster?
- How do we fix problem X for you without compromising your data security?
- When is the best time to make our partnership public?
Make the First Offer and Prepare the First DraftNegotiation courses available online teaching how making the first offer can have an anchoring effect on negotiations. When the first offer is on the table, both sides instantly start working around that offer. So, make the first offer to gain an early advantage. However, before proposing your anchor, you have to know the market to make an offer that supports your position. As you analyze the market, get to understand your prospect’s expected return on investment and your competitors’ pricing structures. In addition to making the first offer, your team should be the first to draft the proposed contract. Making the draft allows your team to frame the deal’s structure. Your draft aids you to take control of the meeting and implement the key points you want to discuss. The other side will likely be reluctant to make significant changes to your draft, meaning you will have started discussions with your preferred terms in place.
Recognize Manipulative TacticsOften, people resort to manipulative hardball techniques to get their way. These hardball tactics usually aim to extract value from you without any value contribution from the other side’s end. The other team may use threats, extreme demands, or unethical means to control the negotiation outcome. Manipulative tactics tend to ruin relationships and can only offer short-term gains. As such, communication courses teach participants how to identify and neutralize the effects of manipulative tactics using suitable counters. Some manipulative tactics include:
- Using negotiation decoys: The other side may add false extra interests to push you into making an exchange for an invalid concession from them.
- Extreme offers: A buyer may offer to pay a price that’s too low to force high discounts. A seller may propose a price that’s too high to push you into paying more.
- Negotiation nibbles: Newly raised requests just before signing a deal.
- Negotiation flinches: Using strong physical reactions such as gasps or sighs to lower your expectations.