Do You Have These Important Negotiation Skills?

BY Jessica Helinski
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Going into the new year, it might be time to brush up on your negotiation skills. Even if you feel like you don’t need to, be assured that there’s always room for improvement. MTD Sales Training’s Sean McPheat uncovers 10 skills that all excellent negotiators possess. Most likely, after reading his list, you’ll find at least one trait that you can improve upon. The following are just a few highlights from his post:

Knowing what you want before you start. Before entering a negotiation, the most successful reps will have a clear idea of what they are negotiating for, not just a vague idea. You should have a clearly defined goal. If not, you run the risk of losing control of the negotiation. As McPheat writes, “If you have the aim simply to sell at any price, or an unclear demarcation for how high or low you will go, then the other party will recognize this and be given the power in any discussions.”

Setting limits. You must be clear about what you are willing to negotiate and what’s off limits. He encourages reps to think of three positions for the negotiation: 

  • What you would LIKE to get (your opening offer or base price)
  • What you INTEND to get (your mid-​point position)
  • What you MUST not go beyond (the point where you will stop or walk away)

Once you’ve come up with those three distinct positions, you’ll be better prepared to lead negotiations. You also are protecting yourself from being tempted to give in to lowering prices or offering too many concessions. 

Doing research. Prior to your meeting, research what the other party hopes to gain from the negotiation. This will give you a clearer idea of where you likely stand. “It also stops you considering a position that is way out of kilter from what position they may want to achieve,” he writes.

These are just three of the vital negotiation skills that McPheat discusses. Have you mastered all 10? Use the new year as a time to revisit your own qualities as a negotiator, uncover and work on weaknesses, and enjoy even more success!