19 Feb What can make ‘preparing to negotiate’ an enjoyable activity?
Beat your negotiation blues
“Selling is fun. It is negotiations I hate” declared Ganesh. Vipin, the Area Sales Manager eyed him sympathetically. Bright and hardworking, Ganesh had earned his spurs within nine months. His understanding of complex engineering issues was a big help in introducing solutions to clients. But when discussions approached completion, things floundered. “May be this is not my cup of tea” he confided “I envy how some seniors even look forward to negotiations. They get along nice and easy with Customers. How do they do it?” “What you see is the game, Ganesh, not what the player does before” Vipin said. I will let you in on a secret formula today, which I want you to try out”. What was Vipin’s secret formula?
Negotiation happens when the Buyer’s need to buy meets the Seller’s need to sell. Negotiation evokes fear when it is wrongly equated with bargaining, which is just one component of negotiation. When a salesperson is unable to convincingly demonstrate value, the Customer straightaway gets into bargaining on price and terms
Four step Formula to Successful Negotiation
Negotiation is a four-step process (PDPB):
- Preparing – Three critical elements – Home work prior to negotiation is critical. This should be around three critical elements of a sale
- Customer – Things to know about our customer must include: What is the problem the Customer is trying to solve? Who takes decisions? Who influences decisions? Who can stop decisions? Who can postpone decisions? Do we know all these stakeholders? Do we understand & manage their expectations and perceptions right?
- Competition – Who are they? What is their current situation? What has been their behavior? How will our offer compare with theirs?
- Our offer – What are our priorities? How important is the deal/client to us? What are the long term implications? Most importantly what will be our Walk Away? Preparation should include a set of non-negotiable thresholds. You must be willing to walk away if those are not met. Walk away, however, does not mean a sullen withdrawal. Nor is it an admission of defeat. It is a tactical retreat to avoid a loss making deal
- Discussing – This would mean exploring positions and interests both ours and the Customer’s
- Proposing alternatives – In this phase we propose alternatives. But no commitments are offered
- Bargaining – To reach an agreement, we should know how much we can afford to give away. Bargaining covers a whole range of issues such as terms and conditions, after sales service, warranty, training, annual maintenance and not just the price. You should have a range within which negotiation is feasible for each of these issues
The most important part of this PDPB Process is Preparation. In sales negotiations, closures are the toast. Behind every closure lies meticulous preparation. Diligent preparation is the secret formula to beat those negotiation blues. Here is the catch.. Preparing to negotiate often appears a humdrum boring chore. Which is why few of us do it. And this is why many of us suffer our negotiation blues.
What can make ‘preparing to negotiate’ an enjoyable activity?
Preparation is not just about ‘Knowing’. To know about your Customer, your Competition, and your Offer is hygiene. Anyone who is serious about preparation will ‘Know’ these things.
What differentiates the Champions from the also rans, are their ‘Being’ and ‘Doing’. Here is what I mean:
Champion Negotiators have mastered these four ways of ‘being’:
Awareness: Your negotiation meeting starts at 10AM. From 7AM that morning, you are fully soaked into the negotiation environment.. the people, the situation, the stakes involved.. You come up with powerful insights as you connect these in your mind afresh. In that state of heightened presence, everything is noticeable.. you never miss a spoken or unspoken word, you notice every gesture, every glance.. everything is observable. You live in that moment. When am aware, am effective.
Positivism: In your mind, you have this deal in your pocket. Why not? It is not about what happened. It is about a very new and very different day, a very different pitch, a very different opportunity.. I will score my century today! When that positivism shows in your behavior, it is very difficult for someone to say ‘no’ to you.
Lightness: When you are light you can fly. This negotiation is not about life and death. Don’t let your past baggage weigh you down. Don’t keep thinking of what the Customer said or did before. Of course, you know it well. You save that for another relevant occasion. For now, be with your Customer. Be light.
High Energy & Mental Agility: Bring the energy into the room with you. Walk briskly. Adopt a confident posture.. the way you sit, the way you talk, the way you organize yourself at the table.. Be energetic. Be agile.
Does this state of Being happen by accident? Or do you make it happen through some deliberate behaviors? Champions don’t let things happen. They make things happen.
Here are 4 things Champions are ‘doing’ differently, that enable such states of being:
Have a checklist: The negotiation checklist sits right in front of them. They have scanned through it before the meeting in preparation, and they scan through it during the meeting so that they are sure they are not missing anything. Being sure is the beginning of being confident. The power of a checklist is legendary.. make it work for you.
Anticipate: Champions think ahead. They ask what is the worst that can happen? And then prepare for it. Sometimes you lose because the best happens and are not ready for it. So anticipate the best and the worst. Be prepared for both. When you anticipate well, there are no surprises.. pleasant or unpleasant. Surprises can hijack your sense of being in the present moment. Surprises can unsettle, can distract. When you are ready and steady, you allow your full potential to manifest in ways that leverage the present moment to your advantage.
Look forward: The windshield in a car is much much larger than the rear view mirror. Life moves forward. So, champions look ahead. They look for reasons ‘why their Customers will buy’.. not ‘why their customers did not buy’. When they look ahead, it reflects in their focus on a new tomorrow, a new opportunity, a fresh beginning. This results in new perspectives, which can shake up an entire purchase process at its tail end.
Visualize the outcome: When you anticipate, look forward and have a thorough checklist, it is possible to ‘feel the deal in your pocket’. As they say, for Champions, all things happen twice.. First in their mind, and then they make it happen in the real world. So it can be with you.. “I am winning this deal. I can feel the appreciative pats on my back”. When you feel that confidence within, it automatically shines through your being, it is going to be difficult to stop you.
It is this mastery of knowing, being & doing that makes Preparation enjoyable. like it does for a Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar or a Virat Kohli. This is how you beat those negotiation blues. Do you want to make this work for you?