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Improving your negotiation skills


written by Natalie Davies

sales-i 29081 2013-08-07 1440960

Many salespeople approach negotiations as battles to be won rather than challenges to be solved. The challenge is for both sides to consider what they would achieve if they determined the direction the discussions should take to enable both of them to see a win/win scenario developing.

How this position can be resolved often comes down to the attitude and mindset of the two parties. Here are some examples of how these problem-solving discussions can bear fruitful results.

The Mindset to improving negotiation skills

  • Separate the person from the problem
  • Decide there are many solutions available
  • Have a constructive approach, determining the direction the discussions will progress to
  • Adopt a win/win solution process

The Preparation to improving negotiation skills

This will help you to identify the demands, needs, desires and results that the other party is seeking. By preparing efficiently, you build a foundation to lay the negotiation on.

  • Set the limits to which you will go to…and stick to them
  • Decide what results you are looking for
  • Determine your fall-back position…what will you accept before saying no?
  • Decide on what you can negotiate with other than money
  • Know how much power you and the other party have
  • Find out as much as you can about the other party’s position before the negotiation
  • Estimate what positions the other party will be building from

The strategies to improving negotiation skills

Your point in a successful negotiation is to bridge the gap that exists between the two of you. The strategies you use can determine how successful you will be.

  • Determine what outcome both parties are looking for
  • State your objectives and get theirs so both of you are clear
  • Say what your opening position is
  • Ask questions to determine the best way forward
  • Don’t get drawn into attacking and defending positions
  • Think in terms of interests rather than positions
  • Assess any offers that are made and rate them against your opening positions and realistic options that are available
  • Determine any offers the other party is offering in terms of value, timings and costs

The negotiation itself

Any negotiation involves a movement of positions from the original, based on the main interests of the parties. How you achieve an agreeable position can be based on the process you go through.

  • Make some possible position statements to test out the negotiables
  • Watch the subconscious body-language…sometimes the signals can be transmitted without people knowing
  • Don’t give away anything…trade instead
  • Put any negotiating items in packages
  • Concentrate on your problem-solving approach and don’t get dragged down into discussions on trivia
  • Recognize threats or bullying tactics you might be exposed to
  • Test your understanding of their positions and identify if they are legitimate
  • Clarify the meaning of whatever position they offer
  • Summarize the positions of both parties after any negotiation movement
  • Use quality questions by identifying what the position they are taking would actually get them
  • Use the ‘What if..? and ‘How would it be…?’ questions to get the thought process moving

Dealing With Blockages

Many negotiations face blockages that can have a stunting and defensive impact on discussions. How these obstacles are dealt with can have a big effect on the direction discussions go.

  • Use quality questions to clarify and confirm the meaning of the other party’s position
  • Don’t allow emotion to interfere with the rational-thinking brain…decide whether the position is interest-based or fear-based
  • Summarize the positions that both of you are taking
  • Address their concerns in ways that will take discussions forward
  • Look for creative ways to address their concerns
  • Think of your best alternative to a negotiated agreement

Gain Commitment

When things get to the point of agreement, you can achieve your goals simply and efficiently. This will be your aim from the beginning.

  • Summarize when you get to the agreement point
  • State the end results of any agreement you have reached
  • Confirm what the outcomes will be so they can see they will win as well as you
  • Ensure the proper paperwork is completed so the agreement is signed, sealed and delivered

Getting a negotiated agreement is a great feeling for every salesperson. There are many ways of achieving the final result, and the journey can have many obstacles. But when approached with the correct mindset and attitude, the road to a satisfactory conclusion can be smooth and straight.

Today’s guest post comes from Sean McPheat, Managing Director at MTD Sales Training. Sean McPheat is regarded as a thought leader on modern day selling and his MTD Sales Blog is visited by 5,00 sales professionals and business owners every week. Sean has been featured on CNN, ITV, BBC, SKY, Forbes, Arena Magazine and has over 250 other media credits to his name. Follow Sean online for more tips, advice and support!

Written By -

I'm another marketing bod here at sales-i (that is marketing exec come social secretary, branded wardrobe, stationary cupboard, fixer of the printer and chief maker of a terrible cup of tea). I get to work with the two delights that are Chris and Steve who have taken it upon themselves to educate me on all things football and Star Wars. I’m a Villa or Birmingham City fan depending on which of them you ask. I really rather enjoy reading and writing (I'm not that great at the maths thing, as Chris will tell you). What I lack in Star Wars and football knowledge, I make up for with a keen eye for a good wine and a great impression of a Wookie.

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