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negotiation skills

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… from our top ten tips podcast… covering a wide range of management and personal development topics… new episodes weekly.
  1. it is different from haggling

    Haggling is not negotiating. Haggling takes place around a single variable, usually price; both parties move towards the middle ground – there is no cross trading…

  2. find the variables to trade

    Negotiation is about trading variables, based on ‘if…then…’ conversations. “If I look after the transport costs, can you then reduce the price?”….

  3. see everything as a variable

    Good negotiators find as many variables as they can, to trade. For example, here are 10 of the most common:

    • price
    • deadline
    • discount
    • payment terms
    • insurance
    • legality
    • reputation
    • scope
    • reliability
    • outcomes
  4. work out each party's priorities

    The best negotiation occurs when both parties have different priorities. Each can work to protect their own priorities by trading into the other party’s priorities. So if Party A’s priority is as low a price as possible, and Party B wants to deliver volume, the B can offer a discount to A if A takes more of B’s product….

  5. decide what's negotiable, and what isn't

    It may well be that some element of the deal is non-negotiable (though good negotiators hate that to be the case). If that’s the case, make that clear from the outset. Effectively that factor or variable is then taken off the negotiation table…

  6. decide how to work through each variable

    Essentially there are two options. Keep everything on the table all the time, or deal with each variable in turn (usually called salami negotiation – slice by slice). A genuine and good negotiation will choose the former, because it increases their flexibility to cross-trade.

  7. see bottom line outcomes as wins

    In the negotiation matrix, you would mentally move from ideal, to fall back, to bottom line positions, cross trading as you go. Sometimes you will hit your bottom line – a position on that particular variable that you won’t go below. Some people think that only achieving your bottom line is some kind of failure. It is not. Your bottom line is the minimum acceptable on each variable – but it is acceptable. Otherwise you should not have set it. So an outcome that only delivered your bottom line is still a win – it’s a position you set that would be a satisfactory outcome. And of course that means that anything higher than a bottom line is a bonus…

  8. keep searching creatively for new variables

    A good negotiator will keep looking for variables to throw into the mix, to increase their trading options. The fewer the variable, the fewer the trading options. Take, for example, price. That may seem a single variable: how much it costs. But there might be any of these (or other) variables within price:

    • method of payment
    • deadline for payment
    • instalments
    • discounts for….
    • payment in kind rather than cash
    • choice of currency
    • inclusive of….
  9. ask: is this a negotiation?

    It isn’t always clear that both parties are in a negotiation…so check. By asking, and judging the reaction, you will know whether the other party assumes it is a negotiation or not, and how comfortable they are with a negotiation. And of course, if it is not a negotiation, essentially you are dealing with an ultimatum – there’s the offer: take it or leave it.

  10. be sensitive and resistant to the other person' tactics

    Many negotiators will have learned particular tactics to help them close the deal. Often these are manipulative, and need to be identified and countered. That’s the topic for the next podcast in this series…

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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
Stay on top of our game…