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The Art of Negotiation – an essential part of your business toolkit

If you lack confidence in your negotiation skills, then sit back and take a more strategic approach to how you handle this vital area of business relations. You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome and you will have added an essential skill to your business toolkit….

1. Ten times more time planning
Spend ten times more time planning for your negotiation than the average person. Why? Simply because the average negotiator is totally unprepared at worst, or has spent.

2. Know who’s who
Know who will be at the meeting from the other organisation and find out everything you can about them personally. What is their position in their organisation? What is their authority level? How have they negotiated in the past? Who do you know who has dealt with them before? And what can they tell you?

3. Know your position
Review your position in the preparation stage. Understand your BP (Best Position), your LP (Likely Position) and your WAP (Walk Away Position). You also need a FBP – (Fall Back Position). This is the alternative that you have to fall back on, if everything breaks down. Understanding our FBP and how it will affect you, makes your negotiating position clearer. Investing the time in having a strong FBP will help enormously.

4. Listen
Keep silent once you have asked your question. Remember SILENT is an anagram of LISTEN. You can’t listen if you’re talking. When you are talking you are giving information and when you are silent you are receiving information.

5. Observe defense
Observe defensive gestures such as folding arms, crossing legs or moving away from you. These are gestures that suggest the person probably does not agree with you, doesn’t like what you are saying and certainly won’t be buying – what you’re selling.

6. Use time to your benefit
Set time deadlines – 80% of concessions come in the last 20% of the time.

7. “Park” difficult issues
Set aside issues that cannot be instantly resolved and move on to the ones that can be agreed immediately. Take the difficult issues to one side and ‘park them’ to come back to them later. This has the effect of agreeing most of the points and helps the other party come towards an agreement on the outstanding points. They will have invested a great deal of time in the 80%+ of the items, which were easy to agree – why jeopardise the deal now

8. Have a higher authority in your armoury
Average negotiators believe that it is a weakness to have to refer to a higher authority. Experienced negotiators know that having the ability to refer things upward to your ‘committee’ etc can be enormously powerful. It also gives you some thinking time. Make sure it is a committee of people and not one individual.

9. Concede reluctantly in small amounts
Make any concession conditional on receiving concessions from the other side.

10. Watch out for the ‘nibble’
This is when things have been agreed and the person asks for something else to get agreement. My kids are very good at doing this – they ask for things in small amounts and when they get agreement, start asking for additional things. Flag to the other person you understand what is going on by saying, with a smile on your face, something along the lines of “We’ve worked out a super package for us both, don’t spoil it now.

For more advice on adding to your business toolkit – click here:

Post by Paul Davis,

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