Saturday, March 12, 2011

No. 1 Rule of Negotiation: Stop Suggesting.

Sometimes, there's a lot on the line.  Maybe it's a huge commission check.  Maybe it's recognition and achievement.  Maybe it's keeping your job, your house, your livelihood.  Sometimes, we try so hard to manage a situation that we forget the most important law of negotiating a tough situation:  Let the other person talk first!

Professional negotiators, arbitrators and attorneys are trained in this all-important lesson.  Regardless of what you really want, always stop and ask the other party what they think and what they're willing to suggest FIRST.  This does two important things:

  1. Sometimes, you'll get even more than you want.  Remember that the other party in any negotiation has their own agenda and objectives.  Many times, you won't know what these really are.  Sometimes, you simply cannot assume that you know how they'll respond to a particular situation.  This is extremely hard for salespeople to do, because we believe that we know how things will go down.  Trust me, you don't.  Experience shows that in any negotiation, parties are jockeying for position with separate agendas.  If you simply ask them what they want (or what it will take to settle the issue), you may get a response that is more favorable than you expected.
  2. Even if the other party's response isn't what you want, at least now you know what they expect.  It's a bit like poker.  If you force a first response, you learn important information.  Like cards, people show "tells" which, if you observe carefully enough, will help you to better position your cause or situation.  Stop suggesting.  Stop telling.  Just ask and listen.  You'll learn critical information that can only be beneficial to you in the end.
Negotiating is just like any other situation in which you must compromise something.  Compromise is what selling is really about:  The buyer compromises by paying a fee for your product/services.  The seller compromises in that there will reach a point where buyers won't pay any more than they think something is worth.  Find out what that value is by careful observation and soliciting other people's opinion.

The best negotiators are those individuals who get what they need by knowing what the other party really wants.

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