Do you ever feel like you have to put on your armor when negotiating? Have you ever wished you could find a way to negotiate what was strong and firm yet creative? Would you like to be able state what you want and still be seen as a partner?
Then this information is for you!
Negotiations don’t need to be about traps or games. They should be a time to build a relationship and speak honestly and directly with the other party. Even if it is a one-time negotiation you don’t need to have tricky lines you use or ploys to get what you want. The honest truth is most people are flexible if they believe you perceive them as knowledgeable, honest and able to make a deal.
Now having said all that, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind when negotiating.
Have a game plan or strategy:
If you go in without a game plan you have no idea where to be flexible, when to give or how to state your point. A game plan or strategy is just that—a starting point. It is not the rigid rule book you need to follow in the negotiation. Remember the other party is also human and if their buttons are pushed and they feel backed in a corner they will react by striking back.
What you think ahead of time determines what you get at the table
I find that most people go into negotiations thinking either “I have to win at all cost. I don’t want to look stupid. I have done my homework and I know what X, Y and Z cost. I am not going to be taken advantage of” OR “Please, please, just be reasonable and give me X, Y and Z without a hassle. I really don’t want to fight you over this.”
Do you see any problem with both of these thoughts? Each one has faith in you but not the other party. That immediately puts the negotiation at a disadvantage. If you believe the other party will try to take advantage of you, then you lose you biggest edge—the perception that they will do anything they can do to help you. And believe me, people can feel whether you believe in the best or worst of them and they will try to live up to either expectation.
Now at this point you might be thinking, isn’t this an article about negotiating? What is all this fluff about perceptions and moods?
I used to think the same thing. When I first started negotiating multi-million dollar deals across the world, I really felt I had to have all the hardball tactics in place. I practiced saying, “Is that the best you can do?” in a mirror with a serious face. And believe me, hardball tactics was more my style. I liked to negotiate fast and I liked to win!
But there was something missing. I noticed that every time I went to negotiate I had to roll up my sleeves and out-think my opponent again. It just plain wasn’t fun.
What I am going to share with you works whether you love to negotiate or you hate it with a passion. It also works whether you know whom you are negotiating with ahead of time or you are surprised on the spot. Most of these techniques can be used on the phone or in person.
My clients find that using this style has them leaving the table with more than they came to ask for! The challenge is it does require practice and thought to execute well.
What is the personality style of the other person and how does that affect how they negotiate?
Not every person negotiates from the same point of view. Each person has a different stake in a negotiation and you need to know what concerns the other party the most. You also need to know what your style is like so you know what are the ups and downs you face when negotiating. You see most people negotiate in the style they are most comfortable with and they try to bring the other party around to their way of thinking. This doesn’t work. As I explain further you will see why this style usually fails at the negotiating table.
Let’s briefly run through the four personality styles
A word of caution–use all the following information as a guideline—not absolute truths. You don’t want to box people in or simplify things too much. And in one article, we can only go in to so much detail!
Personality: The connector is down to earth, warm, friendly and caring. This person is very people oriented and wants to have you like them.
How to spot them: They usually have very open body language, are congenial, have a nicely decorated office with family photos and plants and are neatly dressed and friendly. They will focus on you during the negotiation.
Hot button: Their hot button is stability and they get it through personal courtesies. This person will offer you coffee, ask if the room is all right and make sure you are comfortable during the negotiation. Atmosphere and style will be most important in connecting with this person.
Negotiating Style: Connectors often have a hard time with conflict and tend to crumble or to become very brittle. They hate to feel used or unimportant. If you don’t say hello, if you cut people off, if you become snide or pushy, you will lose in this negotiation. This person wants to connect with you personally. The more they like you and the better you make them feel the more flexible they become.
How to best interact with them: Be open, honest and start with some small talk. Get to know them as a person. Don’t try to run right to the negotiation. And be open when they aren’t meeting your needs but not accusatory. For example, if the room rate is high be straightforward and say, “that is quite a bit more than I planned on. I realize you are a very reputable hotel and I would love to be able to work with you. What can we creatively do to get that rate down?” Get them thinking about ways to help you.
Watch out for: Connectors often don’t tell you what they are really thinking. Since they don’t like conflict they will tend to keep strong disagreements or key points to them. They will often end with a “we’ll get back to you” and you will never hear from them again. They can often harbor a grudge if they feel you belittled them or ran over them.
Personality: Networkers desire fun, excitement, applause, they like to win arguments, they don’t like negative thinkers, and they like the big picture and they are usually not good at details.
How to spot them: Their office will be decorated with pictures of trips, fun events and family. They will be congenial and friendly and may spend 70% of the negotiation doing small talk. Over the phone, they will be chatty and make you feel connected right away. They will often jump around in their conversation with you.
Hot button: Their hot button is recognition and they get this by being people oriented. They are great networkers and are well connected in their industry and company usually.
Negotiating Style: They will negotiate from their gut and it will be based on how they feel about you. The more they like and trust you the more flexible they will be. If you go in to too many details or try to get them on nitty gritty points they will shut down. Remember they like the big picture so hit on your key points first and then bundle your small points together.
For example, “So we are in agreement that we can get the ballroom along with 4 meeting rooms for xyz price for our event. Great. Okay, then the details of what we need for food, room set up and equipment can those be bundled in that price also? I imagine we will need…. (here give them an overview of what you will need)”
How to best interact with them: Even when you are asking them to make tough decisions, you need to point out why it is better to make this difficult decision now then wait. You might say something like “I realize that it may seem I am asking you for a lot. And in fact, I am. There is also a lot of value in putting this together as we have lain out. First, it gives you guarantee fill of rooms with an association that has been around for 20 years. Second, most the people attending are from large Fortune 500 companies and this gives you marketing exposure to all of those companies without you having to spend any advertising money. Third, if everything goes well, I will be happy to write a recommendation letter that you can use with other prospects to show your company’s skill in coordinating a large event.” Notice how many times I hit on recognition of why they should want to close this deal.
Watch out for: Networkers like to close the deal on the spot. Remember since they are not usually good at details they are not your best contact people once the negotiation is done. You want to leave with the name of which you can contact to follow up on all the details. You also want to get everything in writing immediately as networkers can often change their mind or plain forgets what they already agreed to. And remember, since their hot button is recognition you need to show them how this negotiation will benefit them and their company.
Personality: Probably the best known and most feared style for negotiation. This person is direct, to the point, goal oriented and often in a hurry. They think fast, move fast and talk fast. Over the phone, they will be abrupt and cut to the chase. They might even interrupt you
How to spot them: Their office is usually neat with several strong stamps of personality—golf trophies, work trophies, elegant pictures or statues. They usually dress with a presence or force. They don’t walk in a room, they stride in a room and offer a strong handshake. They make great eye contact and can almost seem like they bore in to you.
Hot button: Their hot button is power and they get it through control. This person often has an organizer and is very efficient and busy.
Negotiating Style: They tend to shoot straight and not mince words. They want you to give the big picture and they will rapid-fire questions at you to get the answer. They want the best deal possible and pride themselves on their ability to get what they want or need. They often enjoy the game of negotiating as it stimulates their intellect. They thrive in a negotiation.
How to best interact with them: Now the good news is you do not need to be mincemeat with this person. They are usually not out to eat you up, but they are out to get a good deal. So realize, that this is the one personality style that will not usually take the first deal offered. If you offer them your best deal and refuse to budge, it is like taking candy from a baby. For they love the thrill of the negotiation and you disappoint them when you don’t even let them use their skill.
So offer a good deal, but be prepared to make small concessions. Let them talk first. And if you feel boxed in, be direct about it. For example, “Look we both want what is best for our companies and that is why we are here. I also realize that neither of us wants to take advantage of the other person. So share with me, why if you were me you would take the deal you just offered.” Make them think from you perspective. They will enjoy the challenge and will often chuckle or back down. Why? Because they would never want anyone to make a fool of them and once you ask them to tell you why they would take the deal if they were you, they won’t want to screw themselves so they will be honest.
Watch out for: If you are a Connector, then a Producer will be the hardest style for you to negotiate with. Producers will give up personal courtesies (what is most important to a Connector) in order to get to the bottom line. They are there to make a deal first and a relationship second. Be open, direct and call them on their bluffs in a friendly way. You don’t have to punch back.
I once had a client call and say they wanted to book me for a speaking engagement but they could only pay 1/3 of my fee. Now, I had been working with this prospect for almost 2 years so I knew she knew our pricing and value, yet she was only offering that low price. Instead of being angry or trying to justify my pricing, I said, “Look, I know you realize the value of our programs because you have been working for two years with me to find way to work us in. I also realize you might be working with budget constraints. And quite frankly you have stumped me. I want to work with you and I also want to be fair to my clients across the country. And I am having a hard time rationalizing how to do this event at the pricing we are talking about. Can you brainstorm with me on how we can make this work?”
By using that approach, she never had to defend her offer and I never had to defend my pricing. Instead we took our energy and focused it on how to get the event done and reach the pricing. We ended up finding some creative budgeting ideas that made it work!
Personality: Analyzers tend to be straightforward, desire accuracy and want the details first then the big picture. They generally don’t like a lot of chitchat. They want to get to the meat of the discussion.
How to spot them: Their office is often bare of any personal touches but it has stacks of data and information. Over the phone this style tends to talk slower, even keeled and without much variation. They often will often give long pauses on the phone. They often have a large body space and remain more non-emotional during a negotiation.
Hot button: Their hot button is accuracy and they get this by data. They want to make sure all the facts are in place and they don’t like fluffy negotiations.
Negotiating Style: Broad general sweeping statements annoy this person. Give them the facts. What ever you hand to them they will read. They will actually read all of your materials after they leave. And they do not like to finalize a negotiation on the spot. They like to be able to mull it over and give you an answer by email, letter or phone. They need space in order to make a decision.
How to best interact with them: In a negotiation if you try to strong arm them or generalize too much you will lose. Remember accuracy is most important to this person. They want facts, figures and yes, it does matter if you need 50 sleeping rooms or 52. With this person come armed with as much factual information as possible. If you don’t have it, tell them that up front. Say, “I realize that you would probably like more information then I actually have on me today. So what I recommend we do with this time, is find out if we are in the same ball park to look at speaking further on having our event here.” Then give them the facts you do have and let them proceed from there. If you end up working with them, always have your information ready before you call them. And try to send all details for the event up front, typed out one sheet for them.
Watch out for: Analyzers will often move to what could go wrong and seem to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Actually they are just trying to be accurate and you need to appreciate that accuracy and that you are willing to take those risks. Or you need to help them downplay the risk to them and focus on the positive.
Whew, are you still with me??
That sure is a lot to think about. Actually once you start looking for the personality styles you will be able to easily spot them. And once you stop worrying about you and focusing on what the other person needs, negotiations become less about winning and more about connecting.
Make sure you add value to the other person. This is why it is so important to be able to read their personality style and speak from their perspective. If you ignore their hot button or try to pull them to your style of communication, you are missing the key point of negotiation—the ability to think creatively with another person to come to the best solution. You need to phrase everything you say in alignment with that person’s hot button, not yours. This is the emotional side of the negotiation.
In summary, you need to have a game plan and be flexible with it, you need to read the other person and you need to add value by speaking from their perspective. Keep in mind that negotiations are really “brainstorming session” with another party.
Just the other day, I needed to negotiate a new office lease. The person I am working with is a great guy, very trustworthy but slow to action and poor at details. For 6 months, we have been after him to find us space. Finally, I got fed up with missed appointments and delays. So using the above I said, “I really want to work with you and I know you want to work with us and I trust you implicitly. My frustration level is at an all time high though because you have missed appointments, not gotten back to us with pricing and delayed our moving. So what do we need to do in order to get in new space by Feb. 1?”
I am happy say we have a new lease that we are excited about and he feels great about too. He acknowledged that he had let us slip and then moved to give us his best offer on some prime space. We got the frustrations and objections out on the table with out having to throw punches and without ruining a good relationship.
So use these techniques to work better with others. To work towards a solution, while keeping in mind the other person’s hot button and their desires. Don’t try to push people in to something. Be firm, be fair and most of all, be creative!
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