4 Steps for Boosting Your Negotiation Skills

The lack of preparation leads you away from closing a high-quality deal. Use these four steps to improve your negotiation skills.

improve negotiation skills

The main reason why negotiations fail is the lack of preparation. Diving into a negotiation without a clear goal, not knowing what you're looking for, what is your position in the negotiation, and your alternatives, keeps you from making the best decision or agreement, for you, your business, or your family.

These 4 steps will boost your negotiation skills:

1. Understand why you want to negotiate

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” As Jimmy Dean
During negotiations, as long as you know, which is your goal, you can overcome all obstacles and achieve your goal. Anyway, to do so, you need to know what is your destination. Setting goals allows you to know what you're looking for, be better prepared, and be able to assess the outcomes of the negotiation. The following questions will help you to understand your motivation, set the goals you must meet during the negotiation and, ultimately, determine what you are willing to negotiate and what not:
  • What do you want to get? 
  • What could you get? 
  • What you must get from the negotiation? 
  • Which is your bottom line? 
  • What are your alternatives to this negotiation? (BATNA)

2. Know who you are dealing with

The preparation not only consists of establishing our goals and strategy of negotiation but also in knowing those who will be across the table. Knowing your adversaries, allows you to be able to approach them effectively, to understand their goals, motivations, and the benchmarks, they use to evaluate your offer.

To prepare for a negotiation, you must be able to answer the following questions:
  • Who will participate in the negotiations? How will they be reviewed by the company? 
    People involved in a negotiation are usually measured according to the benchmark from the market or the company. The goal of these people is to generate greater savings and benefits for the company they represent. For example, during an acquisition, the percentage of savings or extra costs generated by the negotiation, according to a baseline established by the company, or its budget, will be used to evaluate the results of the negotiations. 
  • What are the personal motivations of those people? 
    Note that the representatives of the other group may be seeking their own interests above the interests of the company they represent. 
  • What is their background? How they have carried out other negotiations? What are their origins? 
    You must understand their role in previous negotiations, their behavior, and even cultural factors that can influence it, in order to create empathy during the negotiation and not to be ticked by their tactics of negotiation. 
  • Which are the negotiation points that will cause concern for them? 
  • What can you offer that is cheap for you, but that has value for them?  

3. Know your position in the negotiation and how to influence their decision

There are many factors that allow you to have a strong position on the negotiating table, such as your financial muscle, network, image, etc. But also, there are other strategies you can use to influence your position of power. For example, you can use the time to your advantage, either by imposing deadlines or taking into account the deadlines of the other to press their decision. Japanese use extensively this tactic, especially when dealing with foreigners seeking to close a deal before taking their plane back home, so they do everything possible to delay the decision until the last moment.

4. Set the stage, it's time to negotiate

From the attitude of people who are going to negotiate, to the materials necessary for the negotiation, everything must be ready. The company must have a proposal that can say "yes" without any negotiation and also has counter-proposals to the offers of the other side of the possible options they can offer.

Despite the preparation and solid arguments, you may have to face this negotiation, remember this is not a battle; you are trying to negotiate and the key that will allow you to close the best deal is listening. And to use it on your behalf, there is nothing like asking, and listening attentively. By listening to them, you will be able to find insights and information, that have a great influence on the decision-making of those across the table, that at first sight may not be evident.

Furthermore, respect is extremely important for business relationships. Even if by the end of the negotiation, there is no deal, you must take into account what and whom you are representing. Besides, this may not be the last time you will face these people or companies.

Finally, be sure to provide enough time into your schedule to deal with setbacks. Make sure everything is set to go, that the right people are on the table; all the presentations, forms, demos, samples, etc. are ready. Once you have reached an agreement at the end of the meeting created a document for both parties with the final results from the negotiations, this will help avoid misunderstandings (Well if it doesn't prevent them, at least it makes them easier to clear). Likewise, in the business world if you do not do this you may be too naive.

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