Negotiation Skills:- what might affect a successful outcome?

Wittingly or unwittingly, from a running a grocery shop in Al Satwa to a multi-million dollar business in Jebel Ali free zone, negotiation plays an integral part in our everyday lives. Negotiation is also the fine line that distinguishes the outcome between war and peace, deal or no deal, yes or no and most of life’s key decisions. So it is important for us to consider what personal skills might play a part in the successful outcome of a negotiation.

art of the deal

Trump co-writer may have backed out of this particular deal by regretting penning this popular book on negotiation>

Expert Negotiation skills bring the best outcome out of a business deal for both parties. The ability to influence another in a professional and ethical way which would open avenues for profitable mutual understanding, are the core elements of successful negotiations.

Body language and attitude clearly have a strong role to play so here are a few simple tips you may want to keep at the forefront of your mind the next time you enter a negotiation.

 

 

Listen

Listening genuinely and vigilantly is an important factor in effective negotiations as it helps to understand the problem, offer, or demand the negotiation needs to be applied to. Listening requires a lot of patience, sharpness and a clear mindset that would not cloud judgments.

According to Dianne Schilling, writing for Forbes Women’s Media in 2016, a negotiation that is based on effective listening can help in  resolving conflicts, understanding problems, and improving accuracy overall in an organization.

 Maintain Eye Contact

One of the basic components of effective communication is eye contact. It is always pleasant and comforting to the conversational partner when we have the courtesy to turn and face them, put aside pens, papers, mobile phones and books etc.  Even if the partner is feeling shy, guilty, ashamed, or demonstrates any other negative emotions that accompany cultural taboos, you need to excuse him/her but always maintain your complete focus as the negotiator.

Maintain attention with a relaxed composure

Once proper eye contact is achieved it is always important to maintain a relaxed composure and not stare at the conversation partner. This can lead to awkwardness in the conversation. The important thing to keep in mind is to give attention while paying attention. The negotiator should also refrain from getting lost and distracted in his/hers own thoughts and keep their negotiating partner at the forefront of all communication.

Keep an open mind

The negotiator should always maintain an open mind and listen without judging prematurely. Jumping to conclusions before grasping the true facts and contents of the situation could generate a seriously negative vibe and create discomfort in the dialogue. This could result in major setbacks in the negotiations. Many negotiations stall as a result of this.

Analyse and problem solve

It is very important for the negotiator to always be analytical. There is a difference between being judgmental and analytical. The negotiator should maintain his analytical stance at all times. When proper analysis is conducted, problems can be solved in an effective manner.

Be professional

From beginning to end of the negotiation process the negotiator should maintain superior professionalism. Controlling emotions is an important aspect in making rational decisions and comments. Irrational ideas and comments that result from not being able to maintain a professional fine line would affect a negotiation and cause it to stall immediately.

Another important aspect in maintaining professionalism in a negotiation is that the negotiator should not interrupt the communication partner. Negotiators tend to show off their knowledge and belittle the conversation which would lead to discomfort in the negotiation.

Communicate

Having good communication skills is very important for a negotiation to be positive. When communication is considered, the negotiator does not necessarily need to have superior language and grammatical proficiency but rather clarity and concision. The language used should be as simple as possible and should not contain too much technical jargon which might confuse the communication partner.

 Present yourself well

The negotiator should have flair and personality to win negotiations. To begin with, a pleasing personality would draw attention towards the points put forward. A pleasing personality does not necessarily mean good looks, but for instance a smile when greeting, smart attire and general likeability would be the factors that build a good impression. The negotiator should be assertive in what he says and should be positive at all times.

Of course most negotiations are not quite as simple as following these tips but it is always good to revisit the basics. ISM Training runs an “Art of Negotiation “ course which will step it up a notch or 5 , so if you would like to improve your own negotiation skills beyond measure please get in touch to receive our full course brochure. Email [email protected] or call our friendly team on 04 457 3814.

Persuasion – an essential tool in the 21st century workplaceThere are some things happening in our world which simply would not have occurred to us ten years ago. Here are three to begin with.

Farmers are now using drones to spray weed killer in places that are difficult to access. It is now possible to use a 3D printer to produce obsolete or spare parts for cars, appliances, and kitchen gadgets. Thousands of people study to gain qualifications by clicking their way through immersive online courses.

What does this mean for the world of work? It means that the work that used to be done by a farmer spraying weedkiller, the engineer who manufactured the spare part for the machine and the teacher who taught the course is now being done by a machine. The world of work is changing irreversibly. Add to that the migration of repetitive, simple jobs overseas to countries where labour is cheaper, and it’s not hard to work out that the work undertaken by those of us, at least in what we call developed countries relies more and more on a different set of skills. It calls on our interpersonal skills, our ability to adapt and innovate and our ability to persuade others.

We have become the ranks of persuaders. And this is not just the professional sales people.

Doctors persuade patients to live healthier lives, personal trainers persuade people to pursue their own fitness, parents persuade children to work hard at their schoolwork and be active, lawyers persuade juries to believe the case they are making, financial professionals persuade people to manage their finances responsibly and invest wisely and police officers persuade people to live safely and responsibly and to keep the laws of the land. Yet none of these people are categorised as salespeople.

As Daniel Pink, former White House staffer and now published author, puts it, ‘We are all in the moving business these days.’ – To Sell is Human, Canongate 2012

In research done with Qualtrics, a research and data analytics company, he discovered that 4!% of all the people surveyed counted convincing and persuading others as part of their job, and what is more they counted this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success.

We don’t just do it to meet some abstract and arbitrary sales figures, but because the work our organisations do strives to add value to the lives and businesses of those we serve, not just to take money from them but to leave them better off in the end.

Now some people are naturally better at these skills than others. We all know them, those of our friends who can get us to do things even when we feel least like it. But these skills can also be learned. And, believe it or not, it comes down to simple things that we can all do. For example, did you know that people are much more likely to listen to you and be prepared to co-operate with you if you are pleasant, if you smile at them, have a sense of humour and are encouraging and positive? Warmth and positivity disarms our automatic nervous system, helps us to relax and be prepare t consider alternatives, rather than retreat into resistance.

Did you know that people are much more likely to tell you what is important to them if you ask them? And then listen to what they have to say? Listen carefully and not just wait to speak your mind or give them your sales pitch. Did you know that people are much more likely to be persuaded if, rather than convince them that you are right or better informed, that you empathise with their point of view and as the late author and business guru, Stephen Covey, puts it ‘to seek first to understand and not to be understood’?

These are an invaluable set of skills, which can be categorised, which can be understood and which can be acquired through self-awareness, sustained effort and practice. Things like empathy, active listening, body language, the art of enquiry and trust building.

As the world of work evolves and continues to do so at ever increasing rates, these skills not only become more valuable and necessary, but they also transfer extremely well from job to job. These skills have become the new skillset of the person who stands out from the crowd, who makes a tangible difference in their workplace and who adds value to their organisation.

 

 

mountain path

Negotiation is a pathway that needn't be daunting

Before you close a sale, you’ll have to sit tight through the negotiation phase. In sales, negotiation is one of the real tests of whether your company can work in the long term with another company.

But how do you ensure the negotiations will bring in the business your aiming for? Here are six ways to make negotiations go more smoothly.

Set a schedule

Whether you need a series of meetings, or just one specific meeting, schedule it as soon as the opportunity arises. Nobody has time to waste in business. So you’ll find that the company you want to work with should be receptive to the idea of scheduling time for negotiations. If there is some resistance, don’t be afraid to ask what is holding them back.

Ask lots of questions, and then listen

One of the major mistakes people in sales make is not understanding the prospective client’s needs. If you don’t get all the information you can before negotiations start, then tricky questions on their side wont get the answers from you that will seal the deal. So before you even get to the negotiating table ask as many questions about what the prospective client wants from your product or service.

Be flexible

Sure you want to close a deal with the best outcome for your business, but don’t push so hard for concessions you scare away the prospect. Doing business is a reciprocal arrangement. You’re helping them out with a (hopefully) superior offering, they’re keeping your business going by buying that offering. Any reputable business looks for a win win scenario. This ensures a long lasting business relationship where both parties gain something worthwhile.

Know your bottom price

Everyone likes to get a good deal, but you need to know what your permitted bottom price is before walking into negotiations. The difference between knowing your bottom price and not knowing is the confidence it gives you. If you don’t know where you draw the line, that insecurity could jeopardise the deal. It also prevents you from making a deal based on a price your company cannot make a profit from.

Know your extras

When making a deal you’ll have some extras up your sleeve to sweeten the deal. Don’t go for gimmicky extras, they have to be real and add a sense of worth to the deal. These can be lower prices over a certain volume of orders, or a particular after sales service that companies normally pay for. Don’t forget to highlight how great your normal standard of customer service is. Sometimes what seems like normal to you can seal a deal – the customer may not be used to your high level of customer care.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

Of course the deal is important, but is it really worth it if you have to concede too much? Remember your bottom price? That’s the number where you are still making a reasonable profit from the deal. If the other company demands so many concessions that you exceed your bottom line, the deal isn’t good for your business. At every stage during a sales process you should be asking yourself whether the deal is worth pursuing.

Negotiating in a sales environment shouldn’t be daunting. Your job is to find a happy middle ground where both you and the customer walk away happy with the deal you’ve struck.

Is it really possible to come to an agreement where everyone wins during a negotiation? Or does it come at too high a price for one side? An experienced negotiator can walk away from the table with a much better deal than someone less experienced. There are those that speak ‘win win’, but when they jet out of Dubai back to their head office, you could find you’ve given away much more than you should have just to achieve the deal.

chris hoy

Winning takes tactics,patience and the right moves at the right time. Have you got what it takes ?

So how can you ensure that you will walk away from the meeting with what you wanted? A win win strategy for negotiation brings everyone around the table to a point of mutual agreement. A point where nobody will walk away feeling they have given too much away, or didn’t get very close to what they wanted.

First of all, you must understand your own goals. Without a clear idea of what you want, it’s almost impossible to achieve a settlement. If you can’t clearly define what you need, how can you expect the other side to grasp your goals?

Also, by clearly outlining what you want ahead of time, you give yourself time to look at what options are open to the other side to help you win, and what you can offer in return.

At the outset, you have to be very realistic about the negotiation. Is it really possible for both sides to win? Will one of you have to concede too much to gain their prize? What exactly are you willing to concede?

You have to have a clear understanding of the parameters of your concessions. This is called the settlement range. Don’t go so far that you give away more than the deal is actually worth to your company.

Accept that not every deal is going to be a win win. That doesn’t mean you should give up before you start, but you do need to be realistic about your resources, your abilities at negotiating, and the other party’s negotiating skills.

And don’t be afraid to ask the other party what they want out of the deal. It’s a simple question, but many are afraid to ask it, in case it makes them look weak for not knowing beforehand. If you don’t know, then ask. Asking sooner will not only look better, but will save time spent dancing around trying to figure it out.

This questioning will benefit you as well. If you know exactly what someone is looking for out of a deal, you will know whether you can provide it. And don’t forget to return the favour. Tell them what your goals are.

However, there has to be a bit of tactical thought going on. If you reveal far more than they do, where does that leave you? Well, it could leave you at a disadvantage further down the line. Better to hold a little back, than give up everything at once.

And don’t let the other side know you BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) at the outset. This will certainly put you at a real disadvantage. Keep that knowledge in your mind until you really feel it’s necessary to push for it. Then hopefully you will be standing in your Dubai office lobby shaking hands on a deal well done.

There is an increasing amount of discussion about recession returning. All the media are gloomy about the continuing impact of recession on businesses.

This has an effect on businesses and their people, not only in terms of generating negative thoughts but believing them.  These negative thoughts affect the way in which businesses see their prospects of future survival.  It is vital, if you want to succeed in these conditions in any market to ensure that a positive outlook is maintained , essential marketing, sales and negotiation skills are energised and activities increased.  In times of recession it is tempting to cut sales activities which can only lead to further limitation of sales results.

Bill Levell for ISM Training

Bill mentors a delegate during an ISM Training Course

During such times customers place increasing importance on finding suppliers on whom they can rely and who provide them with valuable support.

When the going gets tough it’s not the time to withdraw but rather to become more proactive – increase marketing efforts, strengthen sales activities and sharpen negotiation skills. Even if the business potential is limited, it is essential to be even more active and more focused to ensure of being well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that will exist when recession is finally over.

Customers will be looking for ways to improve their profitability through negotiating better prices and value.  They will be spending more time in analysing the differences between competing offers, however, this will not be limited to price alone.  They will also be making comparisons of:-

  • Performance
  • Cost reductions
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Support
  • People and relationships
  • Financial stability

Customers/buyers are not committed to buying at the lowest price – they know that the lowest priced supplier does not have 100% of the market and they recognise that there is always price differentiation.  It is rare that the lowest priced offer secures the business.

What is more important, is for the customer to achieve the lowest cost of ownership of the product or service.  Attempting to negotiate a single variable such as price will almost certainly lead to suppliers having to concede part of their profit to the buyer.

Effective negotiation requires suppliers to thoroughly understand the value proposition of the competition compared to their own.  The implications are that it is essential to assess all of the variables on their values not just price.  Think about the factors that influence the customer’s evaluation e.g.

  • What are the costs and risk involved in changing supplier?
  • What is the long-term impact of building strategic relationships and support?
  • What will be the impact of the products and services on the the customer’s products and organisation?

When negotiating, it is in the interests of both parties to establish measurable, additional value by trading multiple variables simultaneously.  It is much more effective to avoid reacting to price reduction demands and to focus on demonstrating how to help the customer achieve their internal objectives whilst getting valuable concessions from them in return.

Market recession provides great opportunities to increase credibility and customer acceptance through demonstrating a thorough understanding of their value requirements and trading all variables effectively.

The ISM Training Dubai courses “ROI Selling Skills “and “Advanced Negotiation” provide high skill building which will contribute significantly to maintaining profitably and securing competitive advantage during recessionary times.

Negotiation is a dynamic, complex skill and one that is difficult to master. During a  successful negotiation both parties whilst inherently in conflict with each other must reach a mutually beneficial agreement and  be broadly satisfied with the outcome (Win-Win).  Both sides should feel that a fair conclusion was reached, the agreement will be delivered as negotiated and importantly want to work with each other again. The adversarial element must be tempered if you are to reach a reasonable, successful outcome and a number of variables may have been traded. The variables (must haves, ideals, loss leaders) are at the heart of the negotiation and their importance to each party will be on a sliding scale, it is up to you to determine their priority through sound groundwork and optimize the trading. Be aware that minimizing a trade may not work in the Middle East. Indeed the first step,’ preparation ‘should have guided you towards any cultural context of discussions. If you are negotiating in an international setting your cultural intelligence, knowledge and cross-cultural skills will need to be developed.  There are several stages in negotiation which need to be followed in order for it to be successful, it is a process.

Negotiation ProcessPlanning for negotiation will pave the way for smoother communication, you will be able to predict most if not all outcomes and  you will have a good knowledge of all parties’ needs  .Negotiation cannot be rushed , you need to first establish a rapport and be able to effectively  and clearly communicate without being too jargonistic. You need to build trust with shared values, views, attitudes, experiences, and interests.

Your communication should have the right balance of empathy and yet be able to project your own ideas. Your persuasive communication skills should focus on listening more than questioning, with no perception of their position you cannot be persuasive. Make sure it is focused on helping them reach a decision; they need to explore your ideas and come to a net benefit for them. The persuasion process should mimic the stages they go through in their decision making process e.g. in exploring their concerns you should be ready to handle objections. Ultimately you need to have a commitment to act but this cannot be achieved without first exploring the stages involved in decision making. Only once agreement is reached can you move onto the final negotiation. There are many useful tactics to consider during negotiation but ultimately you should concentrate on building agreement, listening to and interpreting their language and maintain a open professional outlook that acceptably drives the negotiation to a win- win conclusion. Concessions should not be given up without extolling their benefits. Remember cost may not be the key variable you think it is after you have successfully established the true value /potential of your business partnership and ability of your product to meet their needs.