The ABCDE Of Being A Professional Negotiator

How often have you confronted a situated when you realized how helpful it might be to you if you were a better and more proficient negotiator? Isn’t it somewhat disconcerting that while most of us recognize how important negotiations are to our personal, professional and organizational lives, there are so few who are truly proficient at the process? In order to become a truly professional negotiator, there is a need to understand the ABCDE of being competent and professional in our negotiating abilites, skills and practices. This means that negotiations are dependent on a combination of: attitude; belief in your position; clearly articulating your needs; delivering on any and all promises made; and expanding your mind to create and understand alternatives.

1. Like most impactful activities and skills, negotiating effectively begins with our attitude. This means believing in our positions, being comfortable in our positions and own skin, and believing in our skills and abilities. It also means being positive in our approach, thus focusing on ways to make the process work rather than on the reasons why it might not! How can anyone be effective as a negotiator if he begins with anything less than a positive and productive attitude?

2. Do you believe in the positions or stances you are taking? Are they honest and forthright, thus enhancing your ability to develop a relation with your negotiating adversary, converting the process from adversarial to cooperative? Do you behave in a manner of absolute integrity, expressing your needs, while understanding the process and needs of the other side of the negotiations?

3. How clearly do you articulate your needs and/ or positions? How can you expect to be productive and get the results you need and desire if you don’t clearly and express these items? Do you describe your priorities, advantages, and limitations, as well as any concerns you might have?

4. Never make promises during any negotiating that you are not certain that you can deliver! Many individuals who participate in a negotiation approach the process with the false belief that they need to deceive and exaggerate, while the reality is generally that there is little less productive activity one can take during this process. When cooperation, integrity and transparency is the ermphasis, the results are optimized exponentially!

5. Expand your mind’s ability and willingness to consider alternatives! When both sides understand each other’s needs, they gain the ability to see how each might benefit, thus helping each other, by doing things in a different manner, thus creating the optimum win – win scenario. For example, in a hotel/ group negotiation, when the group envisions ways to save the hotel money that can then be utilized to reduce the group’s costs and expenses, this win – win may be achieved and enhanced!

If you are to begin negotiating, do it the proper way! Understand the components, adhere to them, and become proficient in their use!

One Shot May Not Be Enough! Avoid Overloading Management Presentations?

The big presentation day. You are excited. You have been working since two weeks on your presentation. Today is the big day. Your management wants to see your results. You are proud of your results and want to ensure that Management really understands how hard you’ve worked to come up with your presentation material. You walk your management through all aspects of your topic and present your conclusion with lots of supporting arguments.

The surprise. The meeting doesn’t run well. Your management is impatient and eventually interrupts you frequently. Even though you worked so hard and you are very sure that you presented excellent results, it seems that your management doesn’t appreciate the results. Why did this happen?

THEIR perspective. Different from yours! Put yourself in the shoes of your management. They probably didn’t focus on your topic since you last met them. During the last two weeks, they most likely had to sit through many other presentations and listen to multiple other topics. They will have to catch up with you (the expert) within minutes. Since you worked on the topic in depth during the last two weeks you there is a huge information gap between you and your management. It’s your job to bridge this gap!

People need sufficient time to consume information and get their thoughts around it.

Therefore, before you prepare a presentation be very clear on much you can actually achieve in one short meeting. Focus on what your audience knows instead of what you know. It’s all about them.

Here is a simple way to avoid overloading a presentation: Imagine you meet some meeting participants ONE DAY AFTER the actual meeting. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What minimum insight, learnings, message should they recall from the meeting?
  2. What decision should they have taken?
  3. What action should they have taken based on your presentation?

These questions help to focus on the real objective of the meeting rather than getting lost in side issues. Any content that doesn’t support any of the three points above should not be part of your agenda Knowing what really matters, helps you align your presentation material to really get the critical points across.

What do I do with my other content? If you have a lot more information that is not directly linked to the meeting objectives, you have two choices:

  • Put this information in the appendix of the presentation. Like this, it will not dilute your main points. But in case a meeting participant asks for it, you can easily pull it out to support your message. But be careful: Providing ‘nice to have’ information may dilute your priority messages
  • Schedule further meetings to present it at a later point when your audience is ready to consume further information

You may feel bad that there is so much that you know that you will not be able to address in your meeting. But never forget – the purpose of a meeting is not to show how much you know. The only thing that counts is that your audience is informed about what they need to know to keep things moving in the right direction. Senior Management maybe even very happy with you if you can achieve this goal without overwhelming them with lots of detail. A lean and simple approach to meetings is far better than the “say it all, and all in one shot” method. Never forget that if people can’t follow you, there is a high chance to fail.

Do We Really Need to Negotiate If We’re Going to Be Partners?

Welcome To The Age Of Partnering
Remember when every business used to view themselves as an island? This made life pretty simple for anyone doing sales negotiations – it was always us vs. them. Well, it sure looks like someone farther up the corporate ladder has been reading those business self-help books and they’ve decided that there is a better way to go about doing things: partnering.

Why Does Becoming A Partner Make Life So Difficult?
So just what is a partner? In simple terms (and it can get a lot more complicated if you let it), a partner is another company with which your company has decided to form a special, deeper, relationship. For a sales negotiator, this new type of relationship can complicate our lives immensely.

Before partnering came along, you had a great deal more latitude in how you conducted a negotiation: simply put, you really didn’t care that much about the other side of the table – you just wanted the best deal for your company. Partnering changes all of this.

The key here is to view a partnership as a bonding of two companies together (dare I say “marriage”? ) This is much different from a simple long-term partnership where you treat the other firm nicely, but you know that it’s not going to last (perhaps “dating” would be the right word here).

What Role Does Win-Win Negotiating Play In A Partnership?
One of the biggest changes that a partnership brings about in the life of a sales negotiator is the arrival (with a “thud”) of win-win negotiating. Instead of having the latitude to walk away from a deal with a partner, you’re pretty much expected to be able to reach an agreement with them. After all, they are a partner, right?

What this means is that the clever sales negotiator (you) now needs to use win-win negotiating techniques to find more things to negotiate about. The more discussion points that you can put on the table, the better your chances are that you’ll be able to craft a deal with your partner.

One important point that often gets overlooked when sales negotiators start to use win-win techniques with partners is that this does not mean that everything gets shared equally. Instead, what it really means is that everyone walks away feeling satisfied – one side may get 60% and the other may get 40%, but everyone feels as though they got what they needed.

Oh Yeah, That Power Thing
Power is a big part of any negotiation – who has it, how much of it they have, and how you can get more of it. You need to realize that just as in the fact that win-win deals don’t mean that everything is shared, the balance of power will always be unequal.

How much power you have often flows from how much information you have about the other side (your partner), and how much information they have about you. Since it’s a partnership, both of you will know more about each other than most parties involved in a standard negotiation would.

Since you know that you will be negotiating with your partner, as a sales negotiator you have a responsibility to make sure that others in your company don’t end up giving all of your negotiating power away. Sure openness is a good thing, but let’s not take it too far.

What All Of This Means For You
The role of a sales negotiator has become more complicated with the arrival of business partnerships. What use to be a relatively simple process of going into a negotiation with the goal of only improving your company’s position has now been changed.

In order to look out for a partner’s wellness during a negotiation, win-win techniques need to be used. This brings up more complicated issues surrounding what makes a deal fair for both parties and just how to make sure that you retain your negotiating power.

Business partnering is not going away. Sales negotiators need to accept this fact and adjust how we go about negotiating with this new type of opponent / adversary / other side of the table. If we can find ways to create deals that fully benefit both sides of the table both today and tomorrow, then we will have come to terms with the brave new world of partnerships.