5 Essential Strategies Every Business Negotiator Needs to Know

Every modern executive knows that consistent training and development of new strategies are key components of success, especially in fast-paced and competitive market niches. Business negotiation is an area of expertise that every sales team should master, so it’s absolutely crucial for business leaders to help their sales team take full advantage of effective business negotiation strategies, refine them with practice, and learn to incorporate them into their negotiations as second nature.

While every sales team will eventually develop its own techniques and tactics, a few business negotiation strategies are universally valuable to any sales team in any market niche. Review the following strategies for effective business negotiation and evaluate your sales team’s ability to put them into practice effectively.

1. Learn How to Really Listen

Too many people fall into the habit of simply waiting for their turn to talk instead of listening to the other member of a conversation. One of the most important business negotiation strategies any sales team should master is the ability to really listen. This means taking the time to hear what the other party has to say and absorb the information, take in nonverbal cues that hint toward motivations and goals, and then use that information to deliver appropriate, measured responses.

Waiting for your turn to talk simply increases the chances of creating division between your side of the table and the other. In any business negotiation, it is best to strive for a “win-win” situation rather than simply “beating” the other side by getting the better deal. If your sales team strives for the latter, they may ultimately succeed but doing so will likely diminish future relations with the other party. Learning to listen increases the chances of reaching harmonious agreements and mutually beneficial deals that lead to longer-lasting professional relationships.

2. Never Undervalue Research and Preparation

One of the biggest mistakes a sales team can make is entering into any business negotiation unprepared. Regardless of whether it’s an internal negotiation with company stakeholders to convince them of the value of a specific proposition or a business negotiation with another company with the goal of signing a lucrative contract, research is an absolute necessity.

Perhaps one of the most effective business negotiation strategies is refining the pre-negotiation research process. Train your sales team to take time to investigate the other party, discern their goals, concerns, and needs, and then develop a robust negotiation strategy that aims to capitalize on this information.

3. Develop a Negotiation Process to Build Confidence in High-Stress Negotiations

Business negotiation is one of the most cited pain points for small business owners. Unfortunately, many small business owners fall into the trap of feeling less confident than they should during negotiations simply because they do not have the weight of corporate power behind them. This is a dangerous fallacy that can lead to lost opportunities. Many small business owners find success in business negotiations and become more adept at business communication once they develop a solid negotiation process.

Building a solid negotiation process entails several parts. First, it’s vital to assign specific roles to specific team members. Every member of a sales team should know their role and how to capitalize on it for the good of the organization. The team should also know how to play off one another’s strengths and compensate for their known weaknesses, working to overcome them and refine their business negotiation strategies over time.

While it takes practice, developing a business negotiation process can help a small business owner overcome the stress that comes with wearing many hats while running a business. It can be difficult for anyone to switch gears on a dime to address specific business-critical issues, and solid business negotiation strategies built upon an actionable plan helps alleviate this stress. This process will require refinement and tweaking over time, but ultimately help a business owner operate his or her organization with greater confidence in the long run.

4. Know When to Play Hardball

It’s generally not a good idea to enter a business negotiation with the intent of playing hardball with the other side. This usually creates tension and division and is more likely to lead to a failed deal rather than a lucrative partnership. However, it is essential for every good sales team to know when to flip the switch and fight fire with fire when presented with hardball business negotiation strategies.

One of the best defenses against hardball tactics is information. The more information you have about the other side and their needs and motivations, the less likely they will be to succeed in surprising your sales team with information that catches them off guard. It’s not uncommon for business negotiation to involve some inflation and modification of the facts if these tactics can sway the other side into a more agreeable bargaining position, and solid research allows your sales team to effectively neutralize any of the opposition’s attempts to do so.

A great defense against hardball business negotiation tactics is measured yet equally impactful responses. Train your sales team to handle hardball negotiators gracefully and professionally, but to never concede ground when they don’t need to do so. If the other side presents your team with a “take it or leave it” attitude, make sure they’re not afraid to walk away from the table. In many cases, doing so with grace can have the other side singing a different tune very quickly when they know their bluff’s been called.

5. Strive for Principled Negotiation

One of the most consistently effective business negotiation strategies your team should master is principled negotiation. Instead of focusing on having your team secure the best possible deal at all costs and overcoming the competition, have them instead focus on creating win-win situations. Listening will come into play to a tremendous degree with this approach to business negotiation, so make sure your team knows how to listen and absorb information during a business negotiation. This helps them adapt their strategies and formulate more effective arguments, ultimately paving the way for your team to create valuable new partnerships.

Business negotiation strategies can vary from business to business and industry to industry. What works for one team in another market may not work for yours, and a customized approach to business negotiation is crucial to success. These are just a few critical strategies your sales team must master, and Shapiro Negotiations can help. Contact us today for more information about our training courses in business negotiation and learn how our team can help you refine your own business negotiation strategies.

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