Ask and Listen:

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When negotiating, even when we are right and we “know” what the other side wants, it is more effective for them to tell us what they want again, rather than for us to tell them.

The best negotiation “technique” I know of ties into our last reason why negotiations turn out poorly. We (I know I am prone to do this) like to “tell” the other side why they should take our offer. Even when we are 100% right in what we are telling them it is far more effective for them to talk themselves into taking our offer.

So what do I mean by that? If you have done your homework you have a pretty good idea of what is important to the other side. For example, you can make the statement; “you have made it clear that you must have deep red even if it costs more because that is your corporate color. Using that color makes the building, your building”. Certainly you can hear the emotional pull and the logic of your prospect. But, you said it.

Think about the impact if you ask questions so the client tells you: You, “You wanted a specific color – what was that again?” Prospect, “Deep Red.” You, “Yes, why was that, you know green is much cheaper?” Prospect, “Because it is our corporate color. It says to the world that the building is ours.” You, “Well you know it costs 5% more. It sure sounds like deep red is worth far more than 5% to you?”

Now, often at the table they might say yes right there but they might not. Yet, usually when they think about the conversation later they will come back as they in effect negotiated themselves.

Hence, getting the other party to acknowledge what is important to them vs. what you need in trade is a fair bargain, is the most powerful negotiating tool you will ever find.
Take away: Learn to use questions so your prospects in effect sell themselves based on what they said was important to them.

Recap of Negotiation Posts:

In summary many negotiations fail because of a few simple points.

First we assume we know what the other side wants. Even when we “win” we often don’t know what this mistake cost us. When we lose if we inquire why we lost, we often learn we were running the wrong race. Prior to starting a negotiation, ask and ask again at least three times. Find out what the other side wants.

Second make sure you know what you really want. Write it down. Fuzzy statements like I want a job are nice but not enough. I want the project management job for a $100,000 salary with 3 weeks’ vacation and a $5000 contribution to my retirement plan each year is clear and actionable.

Finally use effective communication techniques such as asking leading questions so the other side in effect negotiates with themselves.

Practice these three steps and you will improve both your big deal showdown negotiations and all those mundane continuing negotiations. By Improving your negotiation outcomes your will generate less stress and far more profit.