Life is a continuous
From an early age
kids "learn" to negotiate. They play mom against dad. Or the
babysitter. Brother against sister. Friend vs. friend.
Kids negotiate how
much television to watch, washing the dishes, mowing the grass, their
allowance for the week, cleaning their room, attending a concert or amusement
park or a day at the water slide.
Ditto in school. A
homework assignment due date. A pre-game workout in the gym. The brown
bag lunch mom sent vs. the cafeteria offering. Their locker location.
The physics teacher in their senior year. And always dates.
is an ongoing, moving and some would say never ending negotiation.
This carries over
into the workplace. What time you show up for work. When a specific assignment
is to be finished. Time off. Your work station location - sometimes your
work mates. Certainly the tools you work with.
Negotiation is a major
part of every sales situation. And frequently what selection of advertising,
marketing, PR, merchandising and sales promotion you elect to support
Let's look at 13
Platinum Negotiating Ideas you can use in marketing and sales.
Ideas to gain you more of what you feel you need to be successful.
1. Do your homework
It is almost impossible
to know too much. There is no such thing as too much knowledge.
Yes, there are experts.
And one or more of them may be helpful to you. Helpful in "pouring"
the right information into you. Yet, information alone will never insure
a successful negotiation. Knowing what that info means and what part of
it is most important to those you're negotiating with is key. That's
the knowledge part.
through sources is an enlightening process. A helper or assistant may
make your search shorter and more thorough. Still, part of what I've learned
is you need to dig yourself. To find what you find. To learn what you
learn. It is truly amazing what "pops" when you look.
And it is all part
of being ready - at least as ready as the other guy - hopefully more so.
Example: the day I'm writing this I'm preparing for a new negotiation
- a new piece of business.
The lead came from
a business friend who is already working with these folks. I asked him
to share all he knew. He did.
Next I talked with
the Founder and now CEO of the company - 3 different phone chats. That
helped - as I asked "what makes your product and service from the
competition?". He responded with a laundry list. He was ready for
the question - and I learned.
I then asked what
he could send me to read or learn from. He offered his marketing plan
for the next year. Of course, I dove into his web site to see what they
That is, I did my
homework. Do your homework.
2. Information is
POWER - know the people involved
is NOT power ... unless you use it. And that's why knowing the people
you are negotiating with is so, so important.
In a pure 1:1 sales
situation that is usually not difficult: you ask! Yep, you get the other
guy to talk by asking questions. If you're in her office you look around
- get the lay of the land - and get her talking about herself. That part
You look into the
book case. The trophy shelf. The pictures on the credenza. The plaques
on the wall. The magazines on the coffee table. The type of hardware being
used. The easy stuff.
The easy stuff for
me in the story above was asking my friend what he knew. For instance,
I learned the guy is a scratch golfer. And a few other tid-bits that will
help in conversation and communication.
What is not as easy
is when you are in neutral territory. And there are 3-4-5-6 people involved
in the interaction. This is tougher.
What I do is ASK what
to expect. And I ask ahead of time. Who will be in the meeting? How can
I learn about them and what is important to them? Where can I go to get
ready to do the best job?
Maybe it is corporate
literature. A web site. A library book. A social or economic or even social
gathering. A directory. A congress.
Later this week I
will be in a negotiation where there could be as many as 4 people. The
leader I know - 2 of the other 3 I have met only once. The 4th
person I've talked to on the phone - got good vibes, have never met. This
isn't much, yet it is something. And because I know the leader I know
how to be prepared.
Know your audience
- get to know them before you begin.
3. Know their
objectives - their shopping list
The easiest thing
to learn is WHY people are talking with you.
They are looking for
something. They have a set of goals or objectives, a direction to march,
something to accomplish. Ask and yea shall be rewarded.
It is truly amazing
what people will tell you when you ask them what they are seeking:
"What are you
trying to accomplish?"
are you reaching with this message?
should these people listen to you?"
critical - what is the timing?"
is your offer?"
this marketplace - and why now?"
degree is price important?"
And a host more you
can easily create for your specific situation.
Before any negotiation
you need to know why the other folks are talking with you. What are they
seeking - where are they focused - what will make them happy.
4. Be neutral early
It is easy to have
a decision in mind BEFORE you begin. Because you know where you want to
go - where you feel you need to be.
It is fine to think
this way ... as long as you "kill" the thought, push it to the
back, bury it as you begin negotiation. When you go in to any exchange
with your plan, your direction, your focus up front, you are not listening
for options available from the other person.
Be neutral early.
Meaning have an open mind. There are many routes to get from where you
are to where you need to be. You may prefer some over others ... fine.
Still, the bottom line is getting to the finish line with a "deal".
With an agreement.
In every sporting
event there are countless ways to score. Whether it's a low scoring game
like hockey or soccer, or high scoring like basketball or football - there
is more than one way to "win". BINGO: same in negotiation. There
is more than one way to get to the finish line.
Be neutral as you
begin each negotiation.
5. LISTEN! And then
. . .
The worlds educational
systems make large noises about teaching everyone to read. And to write.
Which is fine. Sadly,
these same bodies ignore listening. A skill few know how to do because
teaching listening is not a mainstream activity.
There is a reason
we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth: we are suppose to listen twice as much
as we talk. For sales reps this is tough - by "nature" selling
is an outward expression. Which appears to mean talking.
Well, of course, a
presentation, a demonstration, some "show & tell" are all
part of negotiation. And this will require talking. Yet, the party that
listens the most is the one that will get the most. Because by listening
you are actually controlling the conversation. As you are learning
what it will take to come to an agreement. The other guy is telling
you just that.
There is "passive"
listening - where you hear the words without interpretation. And "active"
listening, where you hear AND you understand. Obviously, to be successful
to the max it takes active listening.
Listening takes concentration,
too. And because our minds absorb words 4 times faster than people speak
( average rate of speech is 150 words a minute - our brains can take in
600 wpm ), concentration is a tough thing to do. To really listen
So, make an effort
to LISTEN! And then . . .
6. Take time to think
An immediate response
is NOT needed to every exchange. It is okay to STOP now and again ...
In fact, it is necessary
for you to do just that.
This is also difficult
to do. To STOP. To be quiet. To contemplate. To consider. To evaluate.
To begin to think and understand what the message means.
Silence is a powerful
tool. It is almost impossible for a meeting room to remain perfectly quiet
for longer than 8 to 12 SECONDS! On the telephone anything longer
than 7 seconds of silence will "make" the other side say something.
So, do take time to
think what your response should be. In a face-to-face situation you can
push your chair back, stand up, stretch. You can take a short walk - or
a long one. Scratch your head. Look into your brief case. Change the expression
on your face to one that says "I'm thinking".
The rest of the room
will wait for you - as they'll "see" what you are doing.
You are in charge - they have no choice but to wait for you "to return".
Yes, take time to
7. "Buy time"
... absorb by writing
If it is not in writing
it is not so. It did not happen - it will not happen.
That may or may not
be how you think. Yet, that IS how it is the world of business today.
Like it or not, if it is not in writing as a hard copy I can hold in my
hand - it is not so.
So, play upon this
"fact". And take notes. Whether you scribble or are clear and
clean it doesn't matter. You might include "graphics" in the
margins. A chart or graph or "list" may be your way of gathering
your thoughts together.
No matter, later your
notes will be the most valuable in the negotiation. Why? Because you first
listened. You then took time to think. And next you wrote your thoughts.
Listening - thinking
- writing helps you get ready to close the negotiation.
8. Make your offer
ONLY after learning all the options
The first offer is
NEVER the only offer. Period!
It really does not
matter who says what - until you truly know all the options, or
have exactly what you came to get, you should keep negotiating.
For me it is questioning
that helps. I always ask "And what else?" Sometimes "What
more do you have to share?" Or "What should we talk about next?"
This approach to getting
everything on the table insures there will be no surprises. Surprises
in negotiation - a money surprise, a timing surprise, a people surprise
- are usually not good things. They do slow down progress - they may kill
You are being unfair
to yourself unless you know all the options. And the best way to know
all the options is to ask ... and then listen.
9. Trade - don't
The word "compromise"
has caused more headaches in this world than you can count.
means is I give up what I want - you give up what you want and we meet
someplace else where neither us want to be.
This is a word I'd
like to eliminate.
In it's place is part
of the title of this Baker's Dozen Collection - "Negotiate".
What negotiate means is "To Agree". We will agree, for mutual
benefit, to this plan of action. To these next steps, to this direction.
To this goal, accomplishment.
To agree certainly
sounds better to me than to meet someplace neither us want to be.
So, when you are "agreeing",
do it for everyone's benefit. If you are asked to do "X", return
the favor by asking for "Y". i.e., I will do "X" when
you do "Y".
Almost always this
is a given. Rarely does anyone really expect something for nothing.
If you are asked to do something "extra", you in return are
expected, and should receive, something in return. This is negotiating
- this is agreeing.
Do not give away what
you have to offer. Trade it for something you need. That way you, the
seller, and the other party, the buyer, each come out ahead.
This phrase sounds
like any oxymoron. And probably is.
Rarely is a constant
really a constant. Yes, the radio or television news begins at the hour
- a constant. EXCEPT when there is breaking news that starts it earlier.
And very likely keeps it going later.
Certain holidays are
not very mobile. Christmas Day in the Christian world is December 25.
Except, of course, in Orthodox Churches where the date is early January.
Another constant that isn't.
Sure, some things
are truly constant. A trade show opens on this date and closes on that.
If you are not there during that time frame you miss out. A constant.
You could come late, you could leave early ... the show itself is constant.
In negotiation constants
are variables. As soon as some one tells me "this point is not negotiable",
I know it IS negotiable. Or they would not have made a point of it.
So, as you look at
each point within a negotiation, keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities.
Trade a constant for a constant ... trade a variable for a variable. Or
any mix that brings "agreement".
11. Know that "deadlines"
Dates and time are
guidelines. Not Biblical.
Man made up time and
the clock and calendar to measure time. Today there are scores of variations
of time and dates. All of which means the date, time, place for things
to truly happen or "drop dead", is 100% negotiable.
It is not that a deadline
is a bad thing. Not so. Humans seem to respond better to specifics. We
like things that work "on time". Airline travel is a perfect
example. We like office meetings to start and end when they are suppose
to. We like the restaurant or bank to be open when they say they will
Still, when you are
negotiating know that whatever deadline you begin with can be changed.
And frequently will be. By the other guy - if not you.
12. Always remember
YOUR short & long term objectives
It is easy to forget
where you are headed.
The excitement and
enthusiasm of negotiation sometimes gets in the way of the short - or
the long - sometimes both! - sets of YOUR objectives. Do not let that
no matter how "small" begins with a focus. A direction. And
a reason for happening. Overall in your life events it may not amount
to much. Yet, you are negotiating over it now because now it is important.
At least somewhat.
This is true in the
office, on the factory floor, at an organization meeting, for volunteers,
for paid staff, at home, in school - everywhere. Since this is a fact
- you are negotiating because now it is important - remember where you
are going. And why.
Otherwise don't negotiate!
Not everything in any life or any business is worth it. Some things truly
do not matter to the people involved. In my life I have a person who will
stop to eat at almost any time, at almost any place. She just does not
care. It's not that she doesn't enjoy eating ... she is totally open on
where and when. For her negotiating the next eating stop isn't worth it
- she wants someone else to make that decision.
In my business I have
chosen not to care where or when or how about office and computer supplies.
Someone else is in charge of that - and they DO care. I care what I need
is available when I need it - the details of it are of zero concern or
consequence to me. I will not enter into negotiation over supplies.
Still, when it is
important to you, be prepared to defend your stand. Know your short and
long term objectives - always remember why you are in this negotiation.
13. Look for a good
deal for the other guy, too
Unlike sports, where
there is a winner and a loser, in negotiation the best deals are where
By definition negotiate
means we have come "to agreement". It should be more than a
signature on a piece of paper, more than a hand shake, more than a smile
for the camera, more than an enthusiastic note to the boss.
Every successful negotiation
should end in a good deal for all involved. Where all walk away feeling
good and knowing the sought results have happened - and will continue
When there is a "looser"
in negotiation, there will be a problem. Sooner or later (probably sooner),
there will be a problem. Maybe because the negotiation became a compromise.
Maybe because a deadline was unrealistic, and one side decided not to
consider altering it. Maybe because ALL the options were not considered.
It doesn't really
matter why there is an uncomfortable feeling. What does matter is everyone
feels they got a good deal. It does matter the attitude is "this
is good for everyone". It does matter everyone walk away feeling
good for everyone else.
Look for a good deal
for the other guy, too - number 13 in the Bakers Dozen Collection of 13
Platinum Negotiating Ideas.