Business negotiations are rarely viewed as pleasurable. They are fraught with anxiety or, at their cruelest, desperation. Yet only recently have researchers examined how particular feelings influence outcomes and what negotiation skills are needed to assure success.
Negotiating is an interpersonal process. That’s the belief of Alison Wood Brooks, author of Emotion and the Art of Negotiation for the Harvard Business Review. Therefore, understanding the role of emotions is crucial, especially in cultivating long-term relationships.
What Negotiation Skills Will Help You Avoid Mistakes?
According to Paul Bramson, CEO, people often make three common mistakes as they approach negotiations:
1. Failing to prepare – Beyond knowing the company and the person you are addressing; you must have your key talking points down cold. What questions will they ask? What issues are foremost? Challenge yourself to prepare for the unexpected.
2. Lacking emotional intelligence – Self-awareness and the ability to listen and watch for cues from your negotiating partner are key elements. Be thoughtful about your approach and attentive to your behavior. Practice active listening and maintain a positive outlook.
3. Being inflexible – Successful negotiators appreciate the importance of compromise and flexibility. Mutually beneficial outcomes are the product of alternative ideas and, if need be, concessions. Know your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement); it helps you plot the course of the negotiation and make informed decisions.
Errors and oversights will happen in negotiations. However, before disappointment becomes regret you must ask plenty of questions. And assure yourself that you have explored all options.
Patience is a Master Negotiation Skill
Sales leaders agree that capability, integrity, and confidence are essential components to gaining trust in business situations. That’s according to Mladen Kresic, president of K&R Negotiations who writes about the importance of soft skills. They continue: “Humility and empathy often contribute positive leverage to smooth the inevitable bumps in the negotiation process.”
People immersed in their own deals face pressure to make something happen. Too often, they lose the ability to listen, or talk too much and try to force decisions. As a result, they over-promise and under-deliver, when a better outcome would be the opposite.
Patience allows you to resist the urge to jump in and show your knowledge, when a better course is to focus on active listening. “You can gather information that boosts your knowledge and provides context about your negotiation counterpart…”
Kresic cautions: “never be in a position where you are making unnecessary concessions because you didn’t exercise patience”. You must “listen enough to understand critical facts and motivations”.
Empathy is a Master Negotiation Skill
Buyers want to work with people they like and trust. Plus, they tend to like those who demonstrate empathy and patience by caring about them and listening to their needs. This personality trait isn’t a strength for everyone at first. However, it can be nurtured and coached.
Remarkably, these impressions are reflected in SalesFuel’s Voice of the B2B Buyer study. For 46% of B2B buyers, “cares about me and my business” is a top attribute they seek in sellers. Caring, and demonstrating that care, is valued by everyone a seller encounters.
You can show your mediation counterpart that you care about them and their business by including empathy statements:
“What do you see as the best-case scenario for your company?”
“So, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying …”
“I understand your frustration with …”
“I can help with that.”
The above statements demonstrate a desire for a mutually beneficial outcome. Additionally, they allow isolation of objections to be examined apart from potentially sensitive elements. Furthermore, it’s a path to creative deal structures, such as, seller financing or equity swaps.
These negotiation insights are used by sellers to sharpen their skills and build their credibility for better outcomes. By considering these tips, sellers can contribute to an agreeable and rewarding negotiation process for both parties.
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