By Matthew V.
Listen up, all you sales ninjas… you may have your selling patter down cold. You may have an incredible product and a customer base that’s as loyal as Lassie. You may think you’re a superstar salesperson who kicks ass and takes names, but if you don’t know how to negotiate, you’re liable to get your own tail kicked.
Here is a list of the top 5 things you can do to improve your negotiating skills and get the most out of your deals:
1) Stay Focused
You have to keep in mind exactly what you want to accomplish, and why you want it. Don’t get sidetracked by peripheral issues or attractive add-ons. Skilled negotiators have the potential of presenting a whole whirlwind of distractions to throw you off while they pick your pocket. Don’t get caught playing that game. Keep sight of your key objectives in the negotiation and put a value on them, so that you know exactly how much your concessions are costing you.
2) Ask for the Kitchen Sink
It’s nearly impossible to improve the terms of the agreement after your initial offer, so when you begin, make sure you ask for everything you want, if not more. It is much easier to give ground later than it is to capture it, so enter negotiations thinking about what you really want out of the deal.
3) Let the Other Party Make the First Offer
Sometimes you will be surprised by where the other side starts the bidding, and you will discover you’re in a better position than you initally thought possible. Even if the other party open with a low-ball offer, letting them speak first gives you the advantage. It lets you put on a convincing show of being insulted by such a proposition.
4) Know When to Shut Up
When the other side is talking, keep your mouth shut. Only by listening will you learn what they want and what they are prepared to give up. The more they talk, the more information you have to help you work out a deal that all sides can live with. Also, by letting them talk, you might discover their position is not as strong as you thought, and will save you from giving way on positions you had previously thought were losers.
5) Ask “Why?”
Sometimes it is more important to know why the other side wants something than it is to know how much they want it. For example, imagine the other side is demanding that part of your deal include a particular item, or the deal is off. If you are not prepared to part with that item, don’t simply call off the deal in frustration. Ask why they want that item. Perhaps you can offer a substitute that meets or even surpasses their needs, but is of much less value to you. If both sides communicate and explain “why” they want something instead of just “what” they want, negotiations that are potentially close to breaking down can be resolved with all sides getting what they want while giving up less.
So there you have it: five steps to negotiation success. Once you master these steps, you will improve your chances of closing deals on–or closer to–your terms.