Selling Techniques: Tips to improve your negotiation skills
In the words of Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need”.
So what are the key skills of an effective negotiator and how exactly do you go about trying to get what you need? Here are a few tips to help you improve your negotiation skills further.
1. Don’t negotiate until you are ready
Admittedly there are times when we find that conversations escalate quickly and before we know it we are in the middle of a negotiation we weren’t expecting. Planning and preparing well in advance of a potential negotiation conversation ensures that you can comfortably negotiate within your means, having an awareness of the things that your client finds of value, and also being aware of what you are able and happy to offer in order to secure that deal.
Therefore ask yourself if you are ready to negotiate there and then, or would you be better served hitting the pause button and arranging a follow up meeting to conclude discussions? Rather than being seen as a sign of weakness, this approach is often very powerful as it shows you are not desperate – even if you are inside your head!
2. Be Prepared
Knowing your client, what they are looking for and what you can offer is always a good start.
You should also enter a negotiation with a clear idea of how much room you have for negotiation in terms of pricing, timescales etc. This way, you can be ready for the potential conversation with relevant and tangible prices or timescales that can be considered and factored into the thought process of your client.
3. Communication is key
Being able communicate clearly is such an important part of honing your negotiation skills, making sure that there are no misunderstandings. It’s not what we say but how we say it that is often so pivotal. Speak clearly and use silence rather than trying to fill it. Try counting from one to ten if you reach one of those awkward silences (preferably in your head as opposed to counting out loud)! Better still, if you are on the phone, write the numbers 1 – 10 down on a piece of paper during a silence. It’s a great technique to prevent you from jumping in too soon.
4. Use questions
We have spoken in previous blogs about the importance of questioning skills to maintain control during a conversation and to learn as much as possible about the priorities of the other parties involved.
- What are they looking for?
- How have they reached this conclusion?
- What would they need to see in order for them to feel comfortable to sign on the bottom line?
- Exactly what movement do they require on pricing and/or timings?
5. Be creative with your currencies
By currencies, we mean what you have to trade with. How many of you for example swapped Panini football stickers or have children that still do? The child that has the most stickers in their hand has more to offer and therefore has greater bargaining power when it comes to getting that elusive last sticker to complete their collection.
Therefore never enter a negotiation empty handed and always ask yourself whether what you have to offer is likely to be of value to the other parties. It may be that you can give something away that is relatively harmless to you, but would be of great value to somebody else, such as a referral or sharing a piece of research you have already completed.
These are often referred to as ‘elegant currencies’. Elegant currencies are those that are low cost to you but of high value to your client. For example, “I can’t go any lower on price, but I can however offer you an extended warranty”
6. Collaborate and remember to smile
In order to successfully reach an outcome that is pleasing to all parties, it is important to work together to come to a satisfying end result. Keep the atmosphere positive and agreeable, with the shared objective of achieving a workable and mutually agreeable solution for both sides.