If you are in sales or business development, there is no way around the fact that at some point you will be doing some negotiating. In fact if you are doing your job well, it should be a regular occurrence.
Now, for some of us negotiating business deals may seem like second nature, but for the rest of us, it may not be so straight forward. I would even go so far as to say that all of us (yes, even the good ones) at one point or another are guilty of forgetting that even for negotiating there are rules and processes that can help us win more deals.
“Negotiating is the most direct way for you to get what you want for your business, when you want it, and at the price that you see most fit.”
Being a good negotiator means that you can win more deals and have the best chance at getting what you want, while not having to give up more than what you should. Let’s make sure that negotiating is not about a zero sum game and there should be no winner and losers per say.
If the negotiating is done right, both parties should be able to benefit from the deal, and that is really what the outcome should be. When you are closing a deal, the person on the other side will become your partner in some way, and both of you should look to see how you can bring value to each others business.
So what should you do to become a great negotiator and win more deals?
- Be as prepared as you possibly can. I cannot stress this enough, you need to prepare. I like to know in detail who I am negotiating with, so I will normally do as much research not only on the company, but also on the individual. Once I gather the information, I will start to use a few tools, like for example I may build a buyer matrix, plan scenarios, craft questions and answers and address objections, and even run mock negotiations with colleagues. If you take the time and prepare, it will give you more confidence.
- Shhh… Make sure you are listening. This has to be one of the biggest weaknesses when it comes to negotiating. Most people want to make sure that they can get all the information in as possible, and forget to even listen to what the person they are negotiating with is actually saying. If this is one of your weaknesses, then please work on it, it will help empower you to close more deals.
- Be confident and don’t be afraid of the deal. In the interest of developing a positive atmosphere or good will, some people may end up prolonging the discussion without any real output (yes, you know who you are). There’s nothing wrong with having an agenda and steering the conversation to the actual issue when it begins to stray. Of course, it’s best to do so in a calm and friendly manner instead of a more blunt or aggressive one. Also, have a clever guarding strategy on hand—be smart about presenting an offer, ensuring that you have enough wiggle room and that you never begin discussions with the closing offer.
- Ask the right questions. If you ask Yes and No questions, then you are doing it wrong. These kinds of questions are not going to give you any leverage or insight into what your counterpart is thinking. Instead use who, what, where, when, why and how questions, but make sure they are not too broad as you will also get nothing of use for you. Balance is key and that is why as I mentioned before, preparation is key.
- The Objective – Yes, you need one. When you go into the meeting you have to make sure that there is an objective in mind. It could be to get a better price, extend a current deal or add on a service. If you know beforehand where you are and what you want to achieve, you will know what you can and can’t give up and still win.
- Have options for consideration jotted down. While you should have a specific agenda when you sit down to talk, there’s always the possibility that the parties involved may reach a standstill, in which case it would be great if you have alternatives to propose which can still work to your favor. If you don’t, you can risk the whole deal falling through.
- Have fun and be patient. Most people would want to rush the negotiation process, thinking that the deal—the end result—is the only important thing to think about, much more than the journey you go through. Negotiating is not war, at least it should not be in business, and if it feels like it is then you are doing it wrong, or you are looking for the wrong deals.In the end, fully immersing yourself in the experience of negotiating holds great value for you, so don’t shy away, don’t under prepare and make sure you are listening.
Now go out there and close some deals.