Being a good negotiator obviously requires multiple skills, such as clear thinking, decisiveness, influencing, emotional intelligence and a lot of practice to get significant experience. However, below are six essential tools a negotiator should keep in mind in order to negotiate effectively.
- Good preparation. As it has been said “Success is where Preparation & Opportunity meet” so you cannot expect to be a good negotiator if you are entering The meeting unprepared.
Preparation is half way to your success. You need to have very good knowledge of the subject matter that needs to be negotiated and what is the overall situation in the market around this. If possible you should also collect information about the other part of the negotiation (business profile, character, preferences etc.) and, of course, define your primary and secondary targets. This last point is important, as a negotiation is a “give & take” process so you should be very well prepared on which targets are more valuable and what are you willing to give to get them.
- Welcome the other part – create Rapport. Negotiations are not B2B (business to business) or C2C (customer to customer) relationships, they are H2H (human to human) and we should always remember that! So when entering a negotiation, spend a few minutes to welcome the other part. A firm handshake, a smile, offering a coffee and asking a question like “how was your day so far?” are costless, but valuable actions that create rapport and can help us enjoy a fruitful negotiation.
- Listen more than you talk. Probably you have heard people saying we have two ears but only one mouth and this is because we need to listen more than we talk. This is extremely effective in negotiations. Ask open questions and let the other party share with you his opinion and knowledge on the subject. As you listen carefully, observe his body language, evaluate and guide the discussion to your advantage.
- Avoid introducing yourself as the “Decision Maker”. This is a little trick that in some negotiations can help you escape difficult situations. For example, if we are pushed to agree on a discount we can say “It’s not me taking the decision but the stakeholders committee. I understand your point, I will do my best to get their approval and I will let you know”. This way you gain time, and you can also get better results by making the other side walk in your shoes “The committee is very tough, although, as they do not give any discounts and I’m very happy I managed to get half of the discount you asked for. This is an exception only for your company.”
- Don’t take it personally. Sometimes negotiations can be very hard especially when they are about something critical and take a lot of time to reach an agreement. However, you should always remember that reactions such as raising your voice will not help you meet your targets. No matter what the other party will do, no matter what will be said, you should always stay calm, focused in your initial plan and avoid participating in a “fight”. Remember: “Always act, never react”.
- Agreement is not the end of the Negotiation. Let’s say the negotiation was fruitful and you have ended up with a profitable agreement. Is there anything else to do after that? Yes! As we said, negotiations are H2H, so you need to continue working on the “rapport”. A short call every now and then, just to say “Hello” and check if everything is going well, is much appreciated and believe me when you’ll need to renegotiate in the future with the same people (agreement renewal, different scope etc.), the outcome will be much better than the first time.