Nifty Negotiating

NiftyNegotiatingEveryone negotiates. It’s not just something procurement people do at work, on the phone with suppliers. And it’s not just about money – we all do our best to influence factors in certain situations in order to achieve certain outcomes.

I don’t claim to be a master negotiator, but thought I would share my 3-step game plan for negotiations with you, and would be pleased to think that later, you might consider what your own 3-step approach might be.

My ‘Negotiation 3-Step Game Plan’ is: 1. Engage 2. Understand 3. Co-create and I’ll explain what I mean for each:

‘Negotiation 3-Step Game Plan’
STEP 1. ENGAGE
Make sure both parties will be able to give the matter in hand their full attention. This might mean booking an appointment or moving into another, quieter environment.

Make sure you are both at the same eye level too. Face to Face negotiations are always more effective as you can benefit from eye contact and body language.

It’s often said that in face-to-face communications, the words we speak actually account for less than 10% of the message that we convey, while body language accounts for more than half of our message.

You know you have some work to do if you are trying to sell in a proposal to your boss who is sitting with his/her arms and legs crossed.

If (s)he’s sitting with his/her arms and legs uncrossed and is even leaning forwards – you’re on your way!

‘Negotiation 3-Step Game Plan’
STEP 2. UNDERSTAND
In order to be able to negotiate effectively, it is crucial to understand the other party’s motives and agenda. This can only be done through asking the right questions and actually taking the answers on board.

Outdated sales techniques provoke the worst possible type of negotiating, in my mind – have you ever had to buy double-glazing?

I had to go there recently – and it was every bit as painful as I’d anticipated. I had to take a deep breath even after booking the appointments on the phone – one company asked “Is there a Mr Piper who should be at the appointment?”! I had to set aside a whole day, just to listen to their patter and the ridiculous, sky-high quotes from 3 different sales guys, who all took the same tortuous approach.
When I told the third that I was only willing to pay half his estimate, I then had to endure the subsequent multiple and pointless offers…

If I had a promotional sign out the front I could get a discount (we both knew there would never be any such sign). If I sent my old windows for recycling I could get another discount (maybe I should have, but I didn’t care where the old windows went), if I took out finance I could get another discount (not interested)….

A day later I finally managed to place an order, for half the original price quoted, which was my budget. It all seemed such a waste of everyone’s time. The sales guys appeared not to listen, or worse still, didn’t believe what I was telling them, which just left me hoping that I never had to speak to any of them again!

This shouldn’t be the case, should it? People make deals with people, not with the products and processes. Shouldn’t I come out of the experience thinking – that guy, Phil – he was great to deal with and dealt with me in a really efficient and honest way, I’ll contact him again next time – and pass his details on to other people.

It got me thinking about that sinking feeling I had at the thought of it and the predictability of it all and hoping that I never have that kind of effect on anyone!

When I think about how I negotiate with Dylan, my 4-yr old, I play to his agenda, which is all about fun or sweets.

Which leads me into my 3rd step:

‘Negotiation 3-Step Game Plan’
STEP 3. CO-CREATE
Personalised solutions, which bridge the gap between what currently is and what is wished for are always more tempting than those, which are created for the masses.

Mash Island, with sausages as palm trees and beans for the sea, is something my son and I created together to get him to eat something other than boiled egg and soldiers! My initial suggestion of the red cabbage sea didn’t go down very well…

Beat the Beeps is the game we play so I’m not late for work. If he’s washed and dressed by the 7 o’clock pips on the radio, he gets to choose a sweet to have in the car, on the way to the childminder’s.

These are just a couple of examples, but you get the gist… It’s all about compromise and input to get the buy-in.

So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where there could be a battle of wills, you might like to try triggering the ‘Negotiation 3-Step Game Plan’ – just remember: engage, understand and co-create!

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