Nicole Soames, CEO of Diadem Performance, author of ‘The Negotiation Book’, and member of The Clubhouse, shares her expert advice on how to develop your negotiation skills so you can get the results you deserve!
As a commercial skills trainer and coach, Nicole always reminds people that developing their negotiation skills doesn’t happen overnight. Just like learning a new language or training for a marathon, it takes commitment, ambition and hard work to achieve the extraordinary. The great news is that negotiation is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it will become. So based on more than 13 years developing and delivering commercial training programmes around the world, here are Nicole’s top tips to help and inspire you to raise your negotiation game – with customers, colleagues, family or friends.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Preparation is absolutely key to negotiation success, so before every negotiation, make sure you write down a list of what you are hoping to achieve. Then, write down what you are prepared to oﬀer in return – after all, negotiation is about finding an overlapping position with the other party. As part of your preparation, anticipate any curve balls you think may come your way and plan how you will respond. This will help you manage and control the negotiation conversation during the meeting itself. Remember – in negotiation forewarned really is forearmed!
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right! (Henry Ford)
These wise words by Henry Ford clearly show the power of a winning mindset. We’re often our worst enemy when it comes to negotiation – talking ourselves down before we even get to the negotiating table. So before every meeting, remind yourself what’s great about you, your company and your relationship with the other party. Boost your confdence by thinking back to a time when you successfully turned around a challenging situation. Finally, visualise what success looks like – this could be signing your name on a new contract or walking through the door of your new house.
The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for!
Master negotiators understand that you need to be appropriately ambitious throughout the negotiation process if you want to secure the best possible outcome. So always start the negotiation ahead of your ideal as you are unlikely to get a “yes” to your opening oﬀer. It’s important to prepare your highest and lowest oﬀers before each negotiation – contrary to popular belief I don’t advise preparing a walkaway position as I believe you are more likely to end up there if you do. Instead think of your “low” oﬀer as the bottom of your happy zone and your “highest” as the highest believable position. You will be amazed at the results.
You cannot negotiate with those that say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable. (JFK)
It’s crucial to remember that communication lies at the heart of every negotiation. You therefore need to draw on your empathy to understand what makes the other party tick. By putting yourself in their shoes and creating wins for the other side, you are far more likely to balance the playing field and find an overlapping position agreeable to both parties. Remember, people like doing business with people they like – so your goal should be to build a relationship based on trust that leaves both parties feeling like winners.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. (Churchill) Finally, as this quote from Churchill shows, you need to be resilient and solution orientated if you want to achieve a win-win outcome. By adopting a glass-half-full attitude, you are far more likely to bring diﬀerent variables to the table and avoid what I describe as the three Ds of negotiation – deadlock, disagreement and disappointment. Remember to dial up your EQ and draw on your resilience to help you bounce back from any obstacles in your path. Instead, focus on taking the learnings from any setbacks so you can move the conversation forwards and close the negotiation like a true professional.
This article was originally featured in The Informer. To read the full magazine, please click here.