Negotiation Skills: How Companies Leave too Many of the Deals on the Table
It will surprise no one reading this post that negotiation skills training is needed so that you and the other party can ultimately arrive at an equitable solution.
Negotiating Skills is something you’ve probably tried since grade school. Remember when you were trading baseball or Pokémon cards in school? It is possible, you may still be mad at yourself for trading a Pikachu or A-Rod card for two or three cards of much less value.
It may surprise some of you that Negotiation Skills are needed in two broad areas: the content side and the technique side. You may have had the content (a pristine card), but the technique was lacking.
As I review the content side, most of you will say, “Of course, Mike.” When I go into more depth on the technique side of negotiation skills, a good percentage of you might say: “Is that stuff as important, Mike?” The truth is, without knowledge of the technique side of negotiation skills, a very high percentage of deals are often left on the table; in fact, in some cases, I would submit the percentage may be as high as 95%.
Negotiation Skills Programs
- What Does Change Have to Do with Sales?
- Let’s Not Split the Difference: How to Get What You Want Through Negotiation
- The Hiring Economy: How to Avoid Investing in the Wrong Sales Person
- Taking the “Cuss” out of Customer Service
The Content Side of Negotiation Skills
The content side of negotiation skills includes what most buttoned-down organizations know what they must do to appear professional. Those pieces of content may include price and terms, features and benefits, lead times, and delivery schedules. It may also include meeting a variety of recognized standards (legal, engineering, healthcare, etc.) and known certifications, market research data, endorsements or testimonials. Content might include a lot more, but you will get the gist of what I am trying to convey.
The majority of organizations will roll into negotiations with fancy binders and powerpoints with lots of special effects of all of the information outlined above. There might be the signing of fancy NDAs supplied by Legal, the shaking of hands and some pleasantries exchanged. In essence, they have prepared just enough to fail.
The Technique Side of Negotiation Skills
How is your negotiation technique? Saying we have negotiation skills without technique is a one-way ticket to leaving the best part of what you want on the table. Going into a meeting (as do many companies) with a 10:90 ratio of technique to content can allow the other side to take the negotiation away from you.
Techniques include how we go about negotiating, the negotiating style, who should be sent to negotiate (the negotiating team), who will talk and who will serve as a resource, the venue, time zone and other subtle – but key – factors. In appointing a person to be the lead negotiator, how is that person chosen and is that person the best person to speak?
My experience has shown that in terms of negotiation skill technique versus negotiation content, the correct balance should be about 60:40.
A few years ago, I sat in on a negotiation for a company. They had beautiful materials, all the right numbers in all the right places, but the CEO insisted on stepping in and negotiating the deal. He was disjointed, somewhat officious and disorganized.
Despite the negotiation content, the technique was a turn-off. I held several trainings for his staff on negotiation skills, and at the next negotiation, the firm’s director of marketing led the team. She hit all of the right points, was affable, relaxed, and warmly responded, rather than defensively reacted. They came away from the negotiation with a huge order.
Sometimes the technique needs to take another direction. It is never a cookie-cutter. Negotiations are a living, breathing process; a blend of content and technique. Some have called negotiation skills an art; I prefer to think of them as tools we can develop, use, and that can benefit all parties involved.
Mike Hourigan, Negotiation Skills Speaker, Keynote Speaker and Breakout Speaker for corporations and associations.
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