You don’t get what you deserve in business, you get what you can negotiate! So, its imperative that we learn sound negotiation and bargaining skills. We do this by:
- Understanding how to play the “game” of negotiation
- Practicing the skills required to “win” the game of negotiation
- Changing your relationship to negotiation
In this article, I will explain:
- The three reasons why most sales professionals lack proper negotiation and bargaining skills
- The first step you must take in order to begin improving your skills
Have you had any formal negotiation and bargaining skills training? Reason # 1
You suck at negotiating. Yes, you do. Don’t argue with me. What? Are you try to negotiate your way out of this one? Well, that won’t work because (do I need to say it again?) In fact, most people suck at negotiating. I sucked as well before I learned how to do it and now look at me, I wrote a freaking book. If I can write a book, just think of what negotiating skill can do for you? Please, don’t write a book, I don’t need the competition. You see, We all negotiate daily, most of the time we’re not even aware that we’re in a negotiation. What movie do you want to see tonight? Where do you want to go for dinner? Should I call him/her? Should I have another cocktail? I’m going to argue that most of our communication with other human beings (and with ourselves) is negotiatory in nature. Yes, I just used the word negotiatory. Isn’t it amazing that we are continuously negotiating, yet 95% of sales professionals have never had any formal negotiation training? I firmly believe negotiation skill should be a requirement in high school along with credit management, but that’s a whole other blog.
Why your negotiation and bargaining skills kinda suck? Reason # 2
Let me preface REASON # 2 with a story first. I lived in Cairo for a bit in my 20’s. I remember my first night there like it was yesterday. I was sitting around my apartment thinking “what the hell am I doing in this crazy city?” I was also starving but I had vowed off restaurants for fear of living through another bout of food poisoning (three torturous bouts during a one-month stint in the Sinai region). So, I played it safe and made my way to a nearby market where I planned on conservatively buying a bag of beans, potatoes, some fruit, and vegetables. I figured if I ate like a Mexican rabbit, I’d be safe. Here’s a question for you, how long does it take, once you step foot into your neighborhood market to buy a bag of beans, a bag of rice, a few apples and a head of romaine lettuce? Don’t answer; I’ve already timed it. It takes approximately six minutes and thirty-seven seconds. How long do you think it took me to buy the items on my list? Three hours and twenty-seven minutes. What?! Why?! Simple, I had to negotiate everything! Every single potato and each pinto bean was a negotiation. It was the most stressful three and half hours of my life. I wound up deadlocking with Mahmoud, the owner’s teenage daughter!
Back to my initial question, so why do our negotiation and bargaining skills suck?
Easy, we just don’t do it. We have it easy here in America with a little something called fixed pricing. Do you ever go to Trader Joes, see a bag of almonds for $3.99 and say to yourself “I wonder if they’ll take $3.25?” No, of course not, the only negotiation we have is with ourselves “Am I willing to pay $3.99 or not?” In other cultures and countries, pricing is merely a suggestion. Survival is dependent on how skillful you are as a negotiator. For most the world, negotiation is a way of life, for us Yankees (and Canucks), not so much.
You’re just too nice. Reason # 3
Be honest with this next question, do you love negotiating? I’m willing to bet that the clear majority of you reading this article are not crazy about it, in fact, you probably get anxious just thinking about it. Most people tend to have an unmanageable relationship with negotiation. Meaning, many of us can probably relate to the following sentiments: “It makes me uncomfortable.” “I’m non-confrontational.” “I want people to like me.” “I’m just too nice.” “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.” “It’s beneath me, and I’m better than that.” “What will they think of me? That I’m cheap? Greedy? Difficult?” I mean, come on, how can anybody find success with anything with thoughts like those running through their head!
Ok, fine, I suck. I get it. So how do I fix it?
Well, the first step to take in bettering your skills as a negotiator is to begin practicing MINDFULNESS when bargaining with clients/customers. Try just “BEING” in your next negotiation. What comes up for you? Do you get angry, anxious, impatient, scared, etc.? Please don’t reserve this exercise for your business negotiations exclusively, try to be mindful during your negotiations with kids, spouse, friends, colleagues, your boss, etc. Why is this important? Well, I can tell you this with certainty, becoming a successful negotiator begins with understanding ourselves as a negotiator. Knowing our own strengths and weaknesses is the pathway to success.
In conclusion, my primary goal with blogging is to change your relationship to negotiating. Negotiation is a GAME, and you should treat it as such. Remember, a lot of it is smoke in mirrors, we all go into negotiations holding “cards” that we either want the other party to see or that we protect with our dear lives. Taking negotiation personally is like taking a knuckleball pitch personally, it’s part of the game. My job is to teach you how to play the game, and your job is to practice and not charge the mound every time someone uses a negotiation tactic on you. Remember, every tactic has a counter-tactic!
How have your negotiation and bargaining skills been treating you lately? Any war stories out there?
Tony Perzow is a former negotiation trainer at the Karrass Organization and Vice President of negotiation training at Strategic Pricing Associates, his mission is to help others be insanely successful. His highly engaging workshops shatter the myths and misconceptions that prevent most companies and individuals from negotiating effectively. A polished and engaging presenter, Tony has trained top executives from many of the leading Fortune 500 companies. His upcoming book, You Suck at Negotiating – But You Don’t Have to with a Mindful Negotiation Practice goes beyond the theory of negotiating by providing practical, action-oriented information. Before his career as a negotiation trainer, Tony was a top sales performer, procurement specialist, and entrepreneur. He’s been a buyer and seller of some of the world’s largest closeouts, negotiating with such companies as Walmart, Amazon, and Costco. He’s also been a successful restaurateur, real-estate developer, and award-winning film producer. Tony has trained top executives from such companies as Apple, Red Bull, Samsung, PNC bank, MGM, Starz, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Pepsi, and Waterpik.