Successful negotiation tactics

| June 21, 2016

Successful negotiation tactics

You feel confident, you have been preparing yourself for the negotiation and you are aware of the effects both verbal and non-verbal communication can have on the process.  You are certainly on the right track but not completely there.

What’s next?

Dust off that old negotiator tool set, pull each of the tools – or tactics – out and decide which one to draw upon to suit the specific situation. There are many different tactics to be used in the negotiation process. But just knowing the tactics is only half the battle. Putting them into effective use can be difficult if you are not sure how to apply them appropriately.

Many negotiation tactics are used to gain an advantage over other parties and to fulfill one party’s goals and objectives – often to the detriment of the other negotiation parties – and tend to lead to a ‘win-lose’ outcome. Remember that in a business environment, the best agreement is a lasting agreement, one achieved ethically and respectfully.

You may start by:

Identifying barriers: The mere act of acknowledging barriers to communications can give you the opportunity to work together towards agreeing how to resolve the barriers. Then it will be easier to discuss and resolve the real issues.

  • Physical barriers: Before entering a settlement conference forget you personal issues and clear your mind. If you can’t do this, don’t start the negotiation. Ask for a postponement or send someone else.  When you take positions, remember that negotiating across a table produces a competitive or defensive atmosphere — or even a combative one. Working at the corner of a table, or with your counterpart to your side, creates a more collaborative environment.
  • Communication barriers:  Look for and remove barriers that block the messages transmitted. Watch your counterpart’s eyes during the negotiation. If they stay focused on you, he/she is listening. If however, they wander or disconnect, it usually means that their mind is trying to formulate an answer to what you are saying, or they are incredulous, or that they are completely distracted. In order to regain their attention simply stop speaking, call their attention to the fact that they weren’t listening and ask why. This tactic will often uncover the reason for the barrier.  You can then attempt to resolve the problem.

    How about you? Are you listening attentively? Are you fully awake and present? Are you making yourself as clear as you can be in your communications?  Are your actions, your body language, your tone of voice, and your words sending the intended message? Are you letting your emotions take control of your actions?

    If necessary, push the pause button to take a moment of reflection, create a certain emotional distance and prevent yourself from saying things you may later regret.

    And don’t be afraid to ask questions as you gather your information. When you ask questions, you refine the information you have received from the other party. If you don’t get the information you are looking for, ask a follow-up question. And if you are still not getting your answer, ask it a little differently. But don’t let them off the hook.

Negotiating tactics: Once any possible barriers have been removed, the following negotiating tactics might help you get the best deal at the table:

1. Remember that people often ask for more than they expect to get. This means you need to resist the temptation to automatically reduce your price or offer a discount.

2. Maintain your walk away power. It’s better to walk away from a sale rather than make too large a concession or give a deep discount your product or service. This is particularly difficult when you are in the midst of a sales slump or slow sales period. But, remember that there will always be someone to sell to.

3. Keep quiet — except to ask questions. Silence can be a powerful weapon. Many people find it uncomfortable and fill it with conversation, divulging information or revising their offer in the process. The best negotiators listen more than they talk and know that asking questions is a proven method of gathering intelligence and fending off questions.

4. If necessary, engage in the theatrics of negotiation (flinch), learn how to visibly react to an offer or price to make the other people feel uncomfortable about the offer they presented. Appear shocked and surprised before a figure. Unless the other person is a well seasoned negotiator, they will either become very uncomfortable and begin to try to rationalise their price or they will offer an immediate concession.

5. Mimic your opponent. People often unconsciously mimic the mannerisms of partners in conversation, and research shows that it works: Mimicry generates more rapport.

6. Conditioning. Place a starting point in the mind of the other party prior to beginning the negotiation. For instance, if someone started to discuss a negotiation for the purchase of your coffee shop with you, and you initially responded by saying “You’ll be wasting your time unless you are willing to offer $500,000,” this allows you to give them a starting figure that is much closer to the end result you are looking for than you would have been otherwise. But keep in mind that this tactic can also cause the individual you use it on to not make an offer on the item at all.

7. Nibbling. This popular negotiation tactic continues negotiations after the deal is supposedly done and is most effective when a great deal of time has been spent finalising the negotiation and the other party has invested a great deal of time into it. For instance, if you are buying a business, after the deal is finalised you may ask for other accommodations that were not originally part of the plan like the expresso machine in the coffee shop or the lighting to be included. This can be a fairly risky tactic although a large majority of individuals will not renege on the deal after so much time has been put into it.

8. Outright refusal. This method works by outright refusing the original offer made to you, and asking them to do better. Often times the individual who is making the offer will actually negotiate with themselves and provide you with an offer that is much higher than the offer than was originally made.

9. Calling bluffs. Calling the opposing party’s bluff is a negotiation tactic that can really be to your advantage. For instance, if you have a business for sale at $500,000, and they claim that their bank will only qualify them for a $450,000 loan, you can call their bluff by saying that you cannot let it go for less than $490,000. If you would like, you can also make up an excuse as to why you cannot go any lower than that amount in order to make it seem as if you too have your limits. For instance, you could say that the money is going towards your retirement fund and that that is as low as you are willing to go. By taking their financing problem and responding with an explanation of why that won’t work, you will be able to make them come out of their shell if they are truly interested in the product that you are selling.