10 Top Qualities Of A Good Negotiator

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Business people negotiatingNegotiation comes from the root word ‘negotiat’ meaning ‘done in the course of business’.

In other words, it’s a natural part of the conversation process when dealing with prospects, so if you feel you’re not good at negotiating, or you don’t have the assertiveness to get a good position for yourself during a negotiation, then you are certainly missing out on carrying out better deals and working well with the prospect.

So, what are the top qualities needed today to negotiate to a great position for yourself or your business?

Here are ten of the best:

1) Know what you want before you start

Too many salespeople go into negotiations with only a vague idea of what will be a success.

If you have the aim simply to sell at any price, or an unclear demarcation for how high or low you will go, then the other party will recognise this and be given the power in any discussions

2) Set limits to what you will negotiate on

Linked to the first quality, you need to be aware of what limitations you will set yourself.

Think of three positions for the negotiation:

  1. What you would LIKE to get (your opening offer or base price)
  2. What your INTEND to get (your mid-point position)
  3. What you MUST not go beyond (the point where you will stop or walk away)

Setting these limits means you won’t be tempted to do business at any price.

3) Do your research on what the other party might be wanting from the negotiations

Researching their positions before starting may well make it clearer to you where you stand.

It also stops you considering a position that is way out of kilter from what position they may want to achieve.

4) Have patience

Rushing into any negotiation shows you might be desperate for business and may offer the other party a sense of power.

Patience will help you analyse the situation as a whole and not make snap decisions you might regret later.

5) Listen intently to the other side’s arguments

You want to be clear on what they want and why they want it.

Listen ‘between the lines’ as well, meaning that you have to ask relevant questions that will uncover some of the reasons they are taking the stance they have proposed.

Remember to establish ‘why’ they are taking their position.

6) Concentrate of interests rather than positions

If you simply negotiate on positions, you run the risk of focusing on only the monetary value or the time pressures or items that force your hand.

By finding out the key interests of the other party, you might be able to establish reasons why a particular position could serve those interests better.

People are more likely to put higher value on achieving their interests than on just gaining a particular position, so focus on the ‘why’ of a person’s point rather than just on the ‘what’.

7) Trade, don’t concede

This is a key quality of top negotiators and one that sets you apart from the average negotiator.

They see every movement as something that needs to be traded, rather than given away.

If the customer asks for a higher discount, this should be traded for quicker payment terms, or more volume, or promises of further orders to offset the decreased margins you will be achieving.

By trading rather than conceding, you show you aren’t a pushover and will gain more respect from the other party.

8) Look for a collaborative position, not a compromise

If you wanted £10,000 for your car and someone offered you £9,000, the compromise position would be £9,500.

This is the 50/50 split, meeting the other half-way.

Top negotiators realise this isn’t a negotiation at all, and both parties only get part of what they wanted.

You need to find out what the other party values more in the final solution they are requiring, so you need to collaborate and see if there is something that would get you closer to your position, while assisting the other party to achieve something of value to them as well.

In the above example of the car sale, you could get the buyer to come closer to your original asking price by offering something of value to them that would outweigh the actual amount of money involved.

For example, offering to pay for extended warranty or their first year’s insurance may help you get closer to your asking price and allow you to pay for the extras over a period of time, hence bringing you your required figure up front, and settling the extras in your own time.

You need to be creative in finding what is more valuable to the other party, rather than just the monetary figure.

9) Don’t give in too easily

If the other party asks for a move in position and you give in straight away, you show a weakness in your policy and that could be seized upon by the other party.

Use the ‘broken record’ technique, where you state your final position and stick to it religiously, with continual repetition of that fact, showing you won’t move unless there are movements in the other’s position as well (i.e. trading, not conceding)

10) Show the end benefits of the negotiated position

By confirming what benefits you and the other party will have gained by agreeing the final negotiated position, you are able to secure confidence in what you have achieved and are less likely to face further Negotiating Tactics or ploys as you reach agreement.

This ‘forward-focusing’ position helps both of you feel happy you have achieved an outcome that is conducive to you both achieving a goal you feel benefits each party; you have the margin or interest you want, and the customer has the solution that they will benefit from too.

These qualities will help you develop a keen negotiating confidence in achieving your goals while helping others achieve theirs.

Our Sales Negotiation Training course will provide you with the know how to take your game onto the next level. Never be caught short again when negotiating.

Here’s another very popular article on the art and the science of negotiating:

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Sales DNA

Originally published: 14 December, 2018

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