I learned to appreciate negotiating when I lived in Boston. Having spent my adult life “making deals” – all sorts of deals – as a single parent, and as a sales professional – it seemed like I knew it all when it came to negotiation and mediation.
Later I learned that I used negotiation quite a bit, but I didn’t understand the foundational elements of good negotiation. A very positive experience was not replicable to me – until I participated in some role playing with a Boston University instructor named Moshe Cohen. Mr. Cohen is a mediator and negotiator extraordinaire whom I met through our local Fast Company readership group. Ultimately I hired him to work with the sales professionals at CCBN (now Thomson Financial) and what a lesson that was!
I don’t think anyone was as surprised as me to see highly successful sales pros in role playing sessions who would end up “cutting deals” and leaving lots of money on the table due to the pressure of the situation. I think the sales VP was surprised too – and it was a lesson that has stuck in my mind since then.
Just because you call yourself a ‘sales expert” or sales professional – it doesn’t mean you know everything about negotiation nor should you avoid regular “updates” and skills sessions.
Start by re-reading any Roger Fisher and William Ury book. I like the classic, Getting to Yes. Become a student of negotiation, just as you might be with communication and sales in general.
Find a local negotiation expert and attend one of their sessions. Moshe Cohen is still with the Negotiation Table in Cambridge, MA – and I defer to a local Seattle expert named Jeanette Nyden. She has some great articles for download here.
A good one to read is Seven Habits of Highly Effective Negotiators. I appreciate the focus on preparation, asking good questions, and checking your ego at the door.
The greatest point I ever learned about negotiating was on price – this one specific question has saved me tons of deals and made me lots of money. When someone says your price is too high – the conversation that one can have around learning what they are comparing your price to – and asking – “In relation to what?”
Look for an upcoming feature with one of my negotiation colleagues. In the meantime, post your ideas on ways you have been successful with good negotiation tools.