If you are in business or sales, then you must be able to balance your clients’ needs and your own goals to reach an agreement. The art of negotiation is being able to interact and communicate with others effectively to reach a goal — and it is a skill you likely use in your work every day.
When you work in sales, your goal in a negotiation may be to ensure your clients’ needs are met through a variety of the products you offer. If you work in the business world, your negotiation goals may be to land a new client or expand your business. When negotiation is an essential skill of your trade, it is important to understand how to negotiate well and what mistakes you should avoid.
Some of the Most Common Negotiation Mistakes
Being a master negotiator is not an easy task. You will encounter many skills you must learn to make your negotiation tactics more effective — and there are also plenty of mistakes you can make that may completely derail your negotiation.
Some of the most common negotiation mistakes are:
- Lack of preparation. When you are entering a negotiation, you must be fully prepared. If you go into a negotiation without proper knowledge of the client, their needs, their budget, or your products, then your negotiation may not be successful. A lack of preparation can also make you seem unprofessional, so the deal may fall through, or your client may choose not to work with you at all. It is important that you prepare well in advance for every meeting.
- Working from a win/lose mindset. In any interaction, if there is only one winner, then any other party automatically loses. That can create feelings of frustration or animosity, which can derail any business interaction. The best way to have a negotiation be successful is to work from the mindset that both parties are winning. You and your client both have needs and demands that are being brought to the table, and the purpose of a negotiation is for you all to reach a common goal together. A win/lose mindset will put you at odds with your client, which can easily derail any negotiation.
- Getting angry or overly emotional. When someone gets excessively angry or frustrated during a negotiation, it can make them seem unprofessional or even unstable. If you do not have a handle on your emotions during a negotiation meeting, it can easily get off track, and the negotiation will fall through. Emotional intelligence is a huge part of successful sales and negotiation because it allows you to understand how your emotions impact you and those around you, so you can put practices in place to help you remain calm.
- Talking too much. If you feel that you are an expert in your field and have amazing knowledge to share with clients, it can be easy to overshare. You want them to know all of the opportunities available to them and how you can help them succeed. Unfortunately, talking too much during a negotiation can talk a client out of a deal. When you keep presenting new information, it will make them doubt their choice and potentially pull out. It is best to only share the information that is directly relevant to your negotiation and nothing else.
- Not knowing your client. The overall goal of a negotiation should be to introduce products or opportunities you can offer that meet the needs of your client. If you do not have basic knowledge about your clients, you will not be able to match them with the best opportunities. They might also get the impression that you do not value them. Those are both ways to ensure a negotiation fails.
There are many mistakes that an individual can make when going into a negotiation. Those listed above are only a few of the most common ones. To be a master negotiator, it is important to know about these common mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Avoiding Mistakes in Your Negotiations
When you are working on improving your negotiation abilities, there are many strategies to discover and new skills that need to be developed. It is impossible to avoid mistakes entirely, even for the most skilled negotiators. It is possible, however, to learn how to avoid major mistakes in your negotiations.
One of the best ways to avoid mistakes in negotiations is to remain fully engaged and present. When you are fully invested in a negotiation, you will better understand how you are feeling and reacting, as well as how your client may be feeling. Then, you can better understand how to proceed and avoid mistakes or conflicts.
Another way to avoid mistakes during a negotiation is to be aware of your own weaknesses. Every negotiator will have certain negotiation skills that need work. When you recognize your own weaknesses, you can put a plan in place to overcome them, and you will be on your way to developing your skills as a master negotiator.
How to Overcome Your Negotiation Weaknesses
Weaknesses in a skill such as negotiation are inevitable. If you are learning how to be a successful negotiator, you will not be perfect the first time you try it. Certain skills may be more difficult for you to learn than others, and understanding those weaknesses can help you overcome them.
One of the first things you will have to do to overcome your negotiation weaknesses is to identify what your weaknesses are. This can be difficult if you have limited experience with negotiation. There may be some things that you clearly struggle with, but others may be harder to identify. Do not be afraid to ask a supervisor or team member who has more negotiation experience what weaknesses they can see in your negotiation skills.
Once you have identified what your weaknesses are, it is easier to work to overcome them. As simple as it may sound, practice is one of the best ways to develop your skills further. Find negotiation scenarios online or in other resources and work through them with a team member. Ask for constructive feedback on how you approached and completed the negotiation, focusing specifically on the areas you are weakest. Practicing regularly can make it easier to identify when you make mistakes and what you can do to correct those mistakes.
Tips for Effective Negotiation
As with any new skill, learning how to negotiate well can be a challenge. There are countless resources and guides available that can help you become a master negotiator, but those can be tedious and unwieldy. Here is a quick list of tips for how to negotiate effectively as you are learning how to be a master negotiator:
- Understand your goals. It is important to know what you are hoping to achieve with any negotiation. Understanding your own goals gives you a clearer idea of how you should approach the negotiation and what you need to get out of it to be successful.
- Do your research. Being prepared is a key part of success when it comes to negotiation. Do the necessary research to ensure you know who your client is, what their needs may be, and what products or opportunities may benefit them most. When you are well prepared, you will be seen as more trustworthy and professional, which can help negotiations be more successful.
- Know where you can and cannot compromise. This is an extension of knowing your goals. With any negotiation, there are certain areas you can afford to compromise on. They may not be as important to the success of a project. Other things you have to stay hard and fast on because the deal cannot be completed without them. Knowing what aspects of your pitch fall into each category before you begin can help you close more deals.
- Be assertive but still professional. Balance is an important part of any negotiation. You need to be firm and clear with your demands and the things you cannot compromise on. However, that does not mean you need to be rude or disrespectful to the person you are negotiating with. Assert yourself and your needs, but do it in a way that helps you to maintain a respectful relationship with your client.
- Always be professional. Your clients must see you as a trustworthy expert in your field during a negotiation. Remaining professional no matter what happens is one effective way to achieve this. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you will be able to understand how stressful or difficult situations may impact your mood and put plans in place to help yourself remain calm.
- Keep track of your promises. This goes back to what you need to do so that your clients view you as trustworthy. During the course of a negotiation, you may make promises to your client as a way to help close your deal. That is not an inherently bad practice, but it is important to keep track of those promises. If you promise something to a client but then later go back on that promise because you simply forgot that you made it, then you will seem untrustworthy and deceitful. Garnering that type of reputation will derail the negotiation you are trying to close, and it could also negatively impact other deals and negotiations in the future. If you make a promise to a client, be sure to remember and honor it when you close the deal.
These tips simply scratch the surface of what it takes to be an effective negotiator, but they are a useful starting point.
How to Ensure a Win-Win With Strategic Negotiation
When you are negotiating, you do not want to strive to be the winner. That mindset means any other party involved in the negotiation is automatically the loser, which can easily create frustration and animosity. Therefore, one of the primary goals you want to keep in mind when you are in the middle of a negotiation is that it should be a win-win situation.
Recognizing your own negotiation weaknesses, understanding the aspects of a successful negotiation, and using helpful tips during your negotiation can all help you create a situation that meets your needs as well as those of your client.
Shapiro Negotiations Institute Can Help
Negotiation is an essential skill for anyone in the sales industry or in business. It is important to be aware of where you fall short in your own negotiation skills so that you can learn and grow. Having proper tools, tips, and training can make the process of becoming a master negotiator much easier. Trust the experts at Shapiro Negotiations Institute to guide you as you learn how to become the best negotiator possible. Contact us today to find out more.