Negotiation is a common occurrence in our everyday lives. It could be a multi-million dollar agreement or just lunch. However, for many people, the thought of negotiating a deal induces stress and anxiety, even if the intent is to simply discuss and eventually agree on a deal.
If you have ever played chess, you know that in order to win, you must master strategy (the “what” or end objective) and tactics (the “how”). Make one wrong move and you suffer the consequences.
Viewing negotiation as a game will go a long way to lessening your stress and anxiety. It can give you the confidence needed to win the deal. However, unlike a game of chess, the best deals result in a win-win situation for both parties.
To improve your negotiating skills, learn to avoid these seven negotiation mistakes that can ruin your success.
1. Lack of Confidence
Contrary to what some people may believe, you do not have to be loud or act brash to be a good negotiator. Although experience helps, you do not need a lot of it. Usually, successful negotiation simply takes determination and old-fashioned preparation. Confidence comes from being ready to initiate mutually acceptable terms, foresee objections, and understand the hot buttons that resonate with the other side.
Showing kindness and consideration will add to the authenticity of your confidence. This can help make the other side more agreeable to your conditions. However, nothing adds to your confidence more than having rock-solid researched information.
2. Playing by the Usual Rules
Most everything in life is negotiable. If you have followed me for a while, you know I’ve taught the importance of having the right mind set, skill set, and action set. All of these are qualities of a good negotiator. Naturally, to avoid confusion and remain on track, there are rules for each negotiation. However, good negotiators are rule breakers. They have learned that even the rules are negotiable, provided your proposal is ethical, attainable, and beneficial to both sides.
3. Not Having a Relationship
You’ve probably been to a networking event where you’ve seen some folks handing out business cards and not really connecting with anyone. Not developing relationships is typically one of the biggest barriers to successful negotiation. If you get a little personal, you will find that there is a lot to learn about others—what do they value, what inspires them, what aggravates them, etc. You can leverage what you learn, especially if there is a possibility of negotiating a deal with them in the future.
4. Not Asking For What You Want
You have to ask for what you want. That sounds easy, and it is, but it can be intimidating because of your fear of rejection. Your mom and dad taught you not to be greedy, so instinctively, you don’t want to ask. However, in business, rejection is not personal. It’s only business. If your offer is turned down, it’s because you did not propose options viable enough to get what you asked for. It is the offer that’s being rejected, not you.
We’ve learned in “Sales 101” that a “no” usually means the customer needs more information. It’s common to get turned down three times before getting a “yes.” However, when you keep asking after you’ve been turned down, you get better at negotiation. Your persistence usually will produce the response you want, or at least an appropriate alternative.
5. Talking Too Much
Always talking instead of listening is a sure-fire way to break down the negotiations. Again, a lesson from Sales 101. The last one talking loses. Don’t underestimate the power of not talking. Get comfortable with the silence. Your odds of negotiation success increase substantially.
6. Not Getting the Deal in Writing
Line up 10 people and whisper something in the first person’s ear. After each person down the line repeats it to the next, by the time you get to the end, it’s totally different. I strongly stress the practice of getting the deal in writing. Depending on the size and scope of the deal, you may want to have a contract attorney review the agreement, before you sign.
7. Signing a Contract Before Reading It
Admit it. You’ve probably signed something without truly reading it, because you liked or trusted the other person. The consequences can be disastrous, even when the other party didn’t intend harm. What you thought you were agreeing to might not be in the agreement, at least not the way you thought it would be. Make certain to read and understand the entire agreement and get help if needed. Once you have executed the contract, you can’t undo it.
You can improve your negotiating skills exponentially by avoiding these seven mistakes that can ruin your deal. Learning to recognize and avoid these mistakes will enhance your negotiating skill set, get you what you want, and help grow your business.
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