In the boom years, average salespeople looked like winners and rarely needed to rely on negotiation skills. In this weak economy all that has changed, and it is evident that people want a whole lot more before they complete that deal. What should you do? To close the sale, try these seven pearls of negotiating wisdom, generated by a group of successful business leaders.
- Get past needing to compete: Competition, while a part of the negotiation process, can destroy long-term relationships, which in turn can destroy your bottom line. Therefore you must be able to balance competition against the desire to foster long-term relationships.
- Get down to the real issue: Separate the driving force of the negotiation from all the less important issues that take up time. People intentionally and unintentionally play hide-the-ball when bargaining. It is your job to find that ball: the real issue at stake.
- Know and use your leverage: It is surprising how little people really know about their sources of leverage. Even more surprising, those who have leverage don’t know how to use it appropriately. Leverage is more than throwing your weight around. It is your ability to get a deal on your terms.
- Don’t assume that people will act in rational ways: We’ve all dealt with people who are emotional and irrational. Yet we continue to use reason to make our points. You cannot use rational arguments with people who have an emotional charge; it just doesn’t work. Recognize that some issues cannot be solved using reason alone. You must be able to separate the emotional from the rational.
- Things are not black and white: Life is lived in shades of gray. Americans in particular like to talk in terms of the “bottom line,” “bullet points,” and “principles.” The reality is that what you are negotiating is not likely a black-and-white issue. There will be nuances and shades of gray.
- Don’t let bad things linger: Problems just get worse the longer they linger; they don’t go away. Take the attitude of “Let’s get this settled before matters get any worse.” It will save you and your company a lot of time and money.
- Let bygones be bygones: Let go of hard feelings once someone does something to correct a wrong. People make mistakes. People also do really stupid things, such as denying responsibility for their obvious mistakes. People are also forgiving by nature. We would want someone to forgive us if we made a mistake. For the good of business, it is wise to let bygones be bygones.