The ability to negotiate effectively is a crucial talent in the world of business. From financial transactions to conflict resolution, negotiation skills are valuable in all nature of scenarios.
In an ideal world we’d all walk away from the negotiation table with the best possible deal, but it doesn’t come as easily as simply asking for what you want. Achieving your desired outcome can take thorough preparation, effective communication and a willingness to compromise.
So, what’s the trick for achieving success in a negotiation? Fortunately, like any other skill, effective bargaining can be learnt and there are a few key rules to follow in order to master it.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
The worst thing you can do is turn up at a meeting without having done the appropriate leg work. While it isn’t possible to plan out exactly how the discussion will go, doing your research will put you in a good position to answer any questions and address any issues that may arise. Having hard facts to back up your viewpoint is a great bargaining tool and will prove that you know what you’re talking about.
If you’re not familiar with the person you’re negotiating with, it doesn’t hurt to carry out some background research on them beforehand. Learn what their company does, what their role is and if possible, a bit about their previous projects. This may help shed some light on how they’ll behave in the negotiation and, therefore, how you should tailor your own approach to it.
Choose your approach based on their behaviour
There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to negotiating. What works with one person may rub another up the wrong way. This means your conduct on the day can have a huge impact on your success or failure, so it’s essential that you learn how to tailor your behaviour appropriately.
Negotiation style is less about somebody’s personality and more about their behaviour in that setting. Everyone can adapt their manner, and the actions they exhibit in a business meeting may not mimic their usual demeanour. Somebody who is generally easy going may decide they’re going to play hardball to achieve the results they want, for example.
Be prepared to alter your own behaviour to respond effectively to theirs. If they’re being cooperative, be cooperative back. If they’re going into a lot of depth, try to offer the same level of detail in return. One exception to this rule is if they’re behaving in an overly dominant or aggressive manner – this is unprofessional, and you’ll be well within your rights to call this out.
Be prepared to compromise
Negotiations aren’t always about getting what you want. There needs to be give and take, and the best possible outcome is one that benefits both parties. By working on building a positive professional relationship with your client from the start, you’ll both feel more inclined to work on a compromise.
Build rapport and gain respect from the other party by demonstrating that you’re listening attentively and taking on board what they’re saying. You may even begin to see things from a fresh new perspective, which can put you in better stead to strike a deal that works for everyone.
Know when to call it day
Discussions can go around and around in circles when both sides are determined to achieve their desired outcome. In this circumstance, it’s important to be able to identify when the negotiation has reached a natural end.
It might be that you’re not going to get what you want from the arrangement, in which case the best thing to do sometimes is to walk away. Though disappointing, it could be a better decision in the long run than settling on an arrangement that you’re unhappy with. In some cases, the mere threat of leaving the negotiation may be all it takes for your client to show more lenience.
In contrast, if you’ve managed to strike an agreement that you’re happy with, close the deal as quickly as possible to avoid any renegotiation from the other side. Of course, once the final deal has been agreed on, be sure to get it down in writing to get it signed off as soon as possible.
Good negotiating is a skill that anyone can pick up if they put their mind to it and, like anything else, practice makes perfect. In short, it’s all about planning effectively, observing human behaviour and tailoring your own conduct accordingly. By keeping the above advice in mind, hopefully you can go forward and find success in future negotiations.
Denise Louise Jeffrey :
Denise has seventeen years of expert specialization in Negotiations, Leadership and Communications which she delivers to her corporate, business and aerospace and defence clients via international seminars, key note speeches and coaching. She has helped many clients accelerate their effectiveness and sustain organizational vitality at the managerial, executive, board and leadership team levels facilitating both individual and team learning.