As I work with sales people and sales managers I see some fatal mistakes being made as they negotiate.
May I share some of these here with you now in the hope that their “learning experiences” will benefit you and remind you of the importance of not falling into these “traps”.
Indeed, you may care to use them as a check list to ensure that you develop and use good negotiating habits every time.
1. Poor Planning
This has got to be the biggest killer of most negotiations and the major reason for not creating a win/win outcome.
Poor planning is the hallmark of the amateur negotiator.
They do no preparation at all, and it shows.
Particularly in our culture there is a tendency to simply “wing it”.
Don’t make this mistake! Take the time, do your homework and do it right.
2. Rushing the Negotiating Process
This is the second most common reason for creating disastrous outcomes in a negotiation.
Remember that negotiating is not just about reaching the bottom line in the shortest time possible.
Ours is a culture where we have become accustomed to instant coffee, 5 minute meals, pizzas delivered to our door in 15 minutes, and so with negotiating there is sometimes a tendency to want instant results.
Don’t make this mistake, take your time.
Take your time, and have the person you are negotiating with invest more of their time too. The more time that you can have the other party invest, the more rapport you can develop.
The more time the other party invests, the more interest they will have in getting something out of the negotiation rather than having it end with no agreement reached.
This is one of the best strategies for getting what you’re really looking for too.
3. Setting Low Goals
We don’t get always get what we deserve in life, more often than not, we get what we expect.
In my opinion we often expect too little, and so it is too, in negotiating.
Don’t be afraid to aim high. Ask for what you think is fair, but don’t be afraid to ask.
Recognise that negotiating is just a game, and if you ask for more than what you are prepared to settle for, either you might just get it.
Or if the other party is a keen negotiator and wants to negotiate you down, you’ll be able to give a little and still be above your own bottom line.
If you start too low, you’ll have nowhere to go and being able to trade some concessions in a negotiation is often a part of allowing the other person to feel good about their negotiating abilities.
Next big mistake is…
4. Forgetting That Good Negotiating Involves Counter Instinctive Skills
Before you respond, STOP, and think. Most instinctive responses are not the best response.
The best responses are often counter instinctive.
If you are feeling excited because the deal looks better than you thought, restrain yourself, don’t appear to be too eager.
This is a natural and instinctive response but lowers your power.
It will be very hard to ask for a better deal if it’s obvious the other person that you want it no matter what.
A better response would be to play “reluctant buyer”.
This is a counter instinctive response.
Adopt the attitude, “I care… but not that much!” This is a much more empowering attitude and you are much more likely to gain concessions or a better deal from the other person.
So the lesson is, if your instinctive response is excitement, show the opposite, indifference.
If your instinctive response is to get angry, be calm and so on.
5. Failure to Understand The Real Needs and Intentions Of The Other Party
When people negotiate they often fail to reveal their real needs and real intentions.
So get that X-Ray vision working.
Look below what the other party says and seek to understand their real needs and intentions.
Broaden the base of the negotiation.
Once you narrow a negotiation to just one issue, like price, there has to be a winner and a loser.
What we want to create is win/win.
Remember to use in-depth questions.
For example in a recent negotiation the person I was negotiating with was insisting on receiving $1,500 per event for services they would be providing me. I was prepared to pay only $1,000 per event.
This was my objective (my HAP) and I thought this was a fair and reasonable expectation as I wanted to book 12 events over 12 weeks.
This was excellent business for them.
However they wouldn’t budget on the price.
By probing a little deeper, I discovered that while price was important to them, cash flow was even more important and a greater need than the profit margin per event.
They had a cash flow problem, and I had a solution for them.
If they would agree to $1,000 per event, I was prepared to write them one cheque for $12,000 up front. In this manner I got what I wanted and they got the cash they needed to solve their immediate problems. It was win/win.
Anyway the lesson is – get those negotiating skills!
The next big mistake is to…
6. Talk Too Much
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see. Learn to to listen, more than you talk.
Listen for the real meaning too, not just the words that people use. Use silence too. It’s classy, it’s a powerful tool and it gives you time to think.
Slow is often a better strategy at times than fast, in a negotiation.
I was negotiating recently with a young man for the rental of some sound equipment and a sound engineer for one of our seminars in New Zealand a few years ago. I asked him about his rates and he responded immediately with a figure. I didn’t respond. I was thinking.
Before I could say anything, he offered me a discount.
Again I sat quietly.
I was converting those New Zealand Dollars to Australian Dollars in my head and I am just naturally slow doing this. Again before I could respond, he offered me an even better deal. Again, I said nothing.
He couldn’t bear the silence. He jumped in again and this time offered the services of the sound engineer free.
He was negotiating himself down and I hadn’t even uttered a word.
Remember to listen more than you talk. Don’t be afraid of silence. Use it.