Five business negotiation skills that will help you get what you want

Do you clam up when faced with pushback? Or accept the first offer made? Learn these five business negotiation skills to help you get what you want.

Lacking negotiation skills can stall your business growth and diminish team efforts. The ability to negotiate requires a mix of decision-making, communication and interpersonal skills to drive your business success.

Think of all the times you need to negotiate with others in your business week. Working with vendors, financiers, sales prospects, long-term clients and agents of regulatory bodies all need some form of negotiation.

These five key areas taught at sales negotiation skills training can drive the success of your business.

1) Collaborative skills

Too often, business owners view negotiations as confrontational. Poor negotiators tend to see negotiation as a winner-loser contest. Experts know to treat negotiation as a collaborative effort aiming to create win-win solutions.

The ability to work with others on a common task can support your business to outperform your competition. Taking actions that satisfy the needs of others can inspire teamwork, grow sales and boost business efficiency.

To enhance your collaborative skills, work on:

  • Supporting group decisions even when you’re not in total agreement.
  • Sharing credit for excellent performance with others.
  • Being tactful when giving personal opinions, especially in areas of disagreement.
  • Defining problems in a non-threatening manner.
  • Assisting others in achieving their goals.
  • Sharing ideas, strategies and suggestions.
  • Asking for help to identify and achieve goals and solve problems.

2) Active listening

Successful business owners inevitably will have to face periods when cost-cutting, employee lay-offs and shrinking profit margins threaten their businesses. In this kind of environment, it’s easy to fall into a ‘me first’ attitude where only your concerns matter.

Yet, people can deliver better results when both sides respect the potential worth of the other. Great negotiators consider others’ opinions while trusting each other’s capacity for making sound judgment calls.

To express genuine respect, business owners need to have empathy and practice active listening. Active listening isn’t always an easy skill to acquire since it can involve changing attitudes and lots of practice.

To train your active listening skills, practice:

  • Listening to others without judgment.
  • Listening to others before you speak; and listening without thinking of what you’re going to say next.
  • Encouraging others to share their thoughts and ideas.
  • Understanding a speaker’s view – avoid responding based only on your perception.
  • Restating how you understand the message.
  • Interpreting the underlying emotions to understand the message better.

3) Planning

According to the World Scientific Book Chapters, over 80% of your negotiation results are determined during the planning stages. Even before you start discussions, you need to know what you want and how to achieve it.

Whether you’re dealing with employees, suppliers, or customers, follow these four steps to plan for the best outcomes:

  1. Work out what you want: What does the best possible outcome look like for you? Create a list of everything you want. Next, rank your objectives to guide your strategy.
  2. Establish what you’re prepared to concede: What are you willing to give up? What can you accept in exchange for your concessions? For instance, you may be willing to give up a supplier discount for super-fast deliveries.
  3. Determine authority: Who has the power to sign deals? At what point should a negotiator step back and let others take over? Who takes charge at each step? For example, your sales team may have to hand over to the legal team to handle the contract signing.
  4. Gather information: What is the market value of similar deals? What are the legal obligations for each side? Arming yourself with information assists in creating benchmarks. With information, you can react better to changes. You can then also claim more value out of the deal.

4) Persuasion

One of the most critical business skills is the ability to convince others. To grow your business in 2020 and beyond, you will often need to influence others to understand and accept your position. Also, you will need to know how to convince others to change their views.

As with most skills, you can learn how to persuade. You may learn by taking persuasion training under an expert or practicing with friends and colleagues. You may also learn through taking online tutorials or practicing with game simulations.

For better negotiation outcomes, try Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion:

  1. Liking: Highlight similarities and provide compliments. Express your approval offline as well as on social media.
  2. Social proof: Testimonials offer validation.
  3. Reciprocation: One good turn deserves another. Attract good karma by giving favours.
  4. Consistency: Follow through on your promises and commitments.
  5. Authority: Establish yourself as an authority in your industry or niche. Be trustworthy by providing impartial and honest information.
  6. Scarcity: Limited time offers can increase the value of your sales. Remind people that they will lose money if they don’t act fast to take advantage of your deals.

5) Strategizing

Business owners often fail because of approaching negotiations on the fly. Failing to have a strategy can harm your sales, brand image and profitability.

Running negotiations on ‘gut instinct’ can lead to emotions driving your demand. Then, it can become challenging to develop honest and transparent relationships that allow for value creation. For better business results in 2020, define your approach to negotiating with partners, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

When preparing for meetings, identify how you can use your skills to:

  • Find common ground to create win-win agreements.
  • Make trade-offs and ask for concessions.
  • Respond to questions, requests and demands made by the other side.
  • React to offers and counteroffers.
  • Set expectations and deliver results.
  • Break impasses and ease tensions.
  • Define timelines and deadlines.
  • Act on your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) or walk out of discussions when faced with unfavourable conditions.
  • Train your sales team to perform at their best.
  • Escalate dealings to secure a solid commitment.

If you are interested, you can read more information about sales negotiation skills training.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez