By Brooke Levy
Top Five Negotiating Tips
For many, negotiation is the most intimidating of all sales and business skills. It seems like one of those mysterious talents you either have or don’t have, and knowing a situation requires negotiation—buying a car, accepting a new job offer, or making a business deal—will cause some to break out into a nervous sweat. But according to negotiation expert, and Cydcor Senior Vice President and General Manager, Business to Business, Brooke Levy, negotiation can be learned.
What many people don’t realize is that they’re not bad at negotiating, they’re just doing it wrong. Like most things that require talent and practice, improving negotiation skills takes understanding what works and what doesn’t. Think about sports. You may never become a championship golfer, but with the right information about how to hold a golf club and how the wind can affect a golf ball in the air, you certainly can learn to improve your game. It’s the same with negotiation. With the right negotiating tips and techniques, and a lot of practice, you can learn how to overcome your fears and hold your own when asserting yourself.In a successful negotiation, both parties should feel like they have won. Click To Tweet
Here are Five Surefire Negotiating Tips to Help Swing the Outcome in Your Favor:
- Stop Fighting and Start Compromising!
- How to do it right: When people think of a negotiation they often think of a boxing match where the parties enter the ring, head to head, and throw punches until someone falls to the ground and the other proclaims victory. In a successful negotiation, both parties should feel like they have won. It is important to always approach a negotiation as a discussion (not an argument or a contest) with a potential win-win solution.
- Why it works: The art of negotiation revolves around give and take. Two parties must work together creatively to find a mutual win. If you approach a negotiation as a discussion rather than an argument, you will have a different tone. You will be better at listening. Less argumentative. More constructive in your thoughts and ideas. You will be patient. These characteristics are crucial to find a solution – not a victor!
- Know What You REALLY Want
- How to do it right: Understand the difference between positions and interests. Imagine that you are negotiating Saturday night plans with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You want to stay home and your partner is adamant that you go out on the town. Those are your respective positions. But what are your actual interests? The truth is, you only want to stay home because you do not want to spend money on an expensive night out. Your partner wants to go out simply because he/she wants to hang out with friends. Your interests are the factors and reasons that cause you to take a particular position. Knowing one’s interests (as opposed to just his/her position) is invaluable in coming to a solution. Stay in Saturday night, but have friends over!
- Why it works: We typically argue our positions rather than talk about our interests. If you do your homework and understand what you really want and what the other party really wants, it helps you find the route to a mutual agreement faster. Compromise is key. If you can give someone what he/she wants, you can typically get anything you want.
- Talk Less; Listen More
- How to do it right: It’s amazing how much easier it is to talk then to be patient and LISTEN. In fact, even when we are “listening,” we are often not even processing what the other person is saying but rather, planning what we will say next. To be a good negotiator, you need to understand what the other party really wants. You cannot get that information if you don’t take the time to listen and really process his or her view. It is important in a negotiation to ask lots of questions and then listen to the responses. Play detective! Knowledge is power.
- Why it works: Your strength/power does not come from how much you talk or how important you think you sound. In fact, many conflicts are resolved simply by listening to what the other party really wants/needs. The general rule is that you should never talk in a negotiation more than 30% of the time. Ask open-ended questions and allow the other party to tell you what they need. You will have much more success finding a compromise!
- Be Assertive!
- How to do it right: I always joke that the best example of being assertive and holding your ground is to negotiate like a toddler. When my son was three we used to negotiate every night before bed how many books we would read. “Luca, pick out one book to read before bed.” “No Mommy! Three books.” “No Luca, it is late and we only have time for one book so pick out a good one.” “No Mommy, three books!” “Luca, you have two options. Either you pick out one book to read or we don’t read any.” “Ok, Mommy. Let’s just read two books.”
- Why it works: Toddlers never take no as an answer—but they always make sure to express exactly what they want in a non-threatening way. And they rarely ever waver. Being aggressive and being assertive are not the same thing. You do not need to be mean or disrespectful to ask for what you want and hold your ground. Also, just like toddlers, make sure to always aim high with your initial ask so that you have some room to move. If you ask for EXACTLY what you need at the beginning, you will look completely unwilling to compromise during the negotiation.
- Don’t Negotiate Against Yourself
- How to do it right: It always amazes me how many people negotiate against themselves. And it happens in so many ways. The most common example I see is when silence becomes uncomfortable. Imagine that you want to ask your client for an increase in the bonus they are sponsoring for the holiday season. You perfectly plan your argument as to why the increase makes sense. You have the appropriate leverage (always make sure you have leverage!) and you present your position well. Then, there is silence. The client doesn’t say anything at all! And before you know it, you start offering up a lesser ask. You assume that the answer is a no. Or that the client is angry. Or that your request was too aggressive. Silence is ok! Once you have set forth a request, wait for a response!
- Why it works: All negotiations require that you plan thoroughly and have your position solidly in place. If you are prepared, you should feel confident in your requests. Do not waver from your position or negotiate against yourself just because the other party does not immediately react the way that you planned. Negotiation takes patience. Sometimes the other party simply needs time to digest or better understand your rationale.
Not everyone loves to negotiate, but understanding how to negotiate and improve your negotiation skills is critical to achieving success in almost any kind of business, and in life. Even those who never work in sales will need to negotiate at some point or another, because resolving almost any disagreement requires compromise. Learning to control and play an active role in resolving conflicts can empower you to feel less anxious when asserting yourself and your wishes, and can help you get the results you’re hoping for more often.
Brooke Levy is Senior Vice President and General Manager, Business to Business at Cydcor, where she is responsible for managing client relationships, driving results at the campaign management level, and exploring new business opportunities. Under Brooke’s leadership, revenue for one of Cydcor’s residential energy programs tripled in just 18 months. Brooke heads the company’s entire business to business sector, and she was instrumental in designing the business and legal framework for both of Cydcor’s proprietary residential energy businesses. She has also developed new mid-market sales opportunities for Cydcor, pairing clients with business models she personally built and tested to ensure long-term growth. Brooke joined Cydcor in 2013, following a successful 10-year stint as a corporate lawyer, specializing in mergers and acquisitions as well as private equity.