Every single day, negotiation finds its way into our lives in various forms. Whether it’s hashing things out with our kids, navigating a busy parking lot, or sitting around a boardroom table, the art of negotiation plays a significant role.
These tactics have undergone testing across different scenarios and might not guarantee success each time, but they can certainly spark ideas you might not have previously entertained.
1. THE “FEEL, FELT, FOUND” TECHNIQUE FOR NEGOTIATION
When objections arise or you’re aiming to persuade someone to buy into your concept or product, keep this mnemonic device in mind: Feel. Felt. Found. Personal anecdotes draw people into your pitch. Infuse emotion and connect with their feelings, especially those tied to their reservations.
Say something like, “I understand how you feel…” Why the understanding? Because you’ve been in the same boat or you’ve encountered similar feelings from other clients. Deepen the emotion, exploring what’s tied to it. You’re essentially putting yourself on their level, explaining why you empathize. The narrative continues with “I’ve had a client who felt the same way…”. Use a story laden with emotive language. Wrap it up by saying “What I discovered is…” or “What they discovered is…
This is the crux of it. You’re recognizing, empathizing, and aligning with their thought process (“I think like you do”), then aiming to guide their shift in thinking, and their decision-making process, by replicating the thought process they should undergo.
Through storytelling, you illustrate the transformation in thought and the positive outcome that followed. You recount what you or your client uncovered as a beneficial result from embracing the suggested decision. In essence, the storytelling process goes like this: “I understand how you feel, I’ve been in the same boat, but here’s what I’ve discovered.” Just remember, Feel. Felt. Found.
2. THE “I’M NOT THE DECISION MAKER” NEGOTIATION STRATEGY
Even if you’re the one with the power to decide, keep that under wraps. Let people feel a level of uncertainty about your decision-making process, knowing that another authority figure holds the reins and makes the final call. In terms of the power dynamic (“who’s in control here”), it shifts the focus onto you.
This approach prevents clients from feeling like they’ve cornered you, while also affording you some thinking time. The ambiguity might also entice them to propose additional offers or benefits. Furthermore, if you’re uncomfortable declining face-to-face, it places the power beyond your control. The “No” is no longer yours to give.
3. THE “COMPANY POLICY” NEGOTIATION STRATEGY
Similar to the “I’m Not the Decision Maker” approach, this wrests control from your hands. If certain negotiation terms aren’t agreeable or if you want to assert your terms, this language can be influential. For instance, say, “Apologies, but if you wish to secure this offer, a 10% payment is required today, or I can’t reserve this product for you.
It’s Company Policy.” When you’re aiming to be a cooperative negotiator, you might not want to push too hard, but this technique can lock people in without coming off as overly forceful.
4. THE “HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT?” NEGOTIATION STRATEGY
Don’t shy away from making requests, and present them as though the answer is a given. What’s the idea here? Never, ever ask, “So, what do you think?” This leaves the door wide open for the client to formulate opinions or for their subconscious to magnify faults in your offer. Instead, pose your question as if the decision is already made.
An example of this is “How would you prefer to make the payment today?” You’re not asking “Would you like to buy this umbrella?” but rather “Which umbrella will you be taking today? The green or the blue one?” If I ask my spouse, “Can you pick up the kids from school?” they might reply, “Nah, you can do it.” However, if I inquire, “What time are you picking up the kids from school?” they’ll offer a specific time. It’s often more effective to embed certain terms in proposals or contracts and then ask them to opt out or make a choice, instead of asking for their contribution.
5. THE “HAGGLE” NEGOTIATING STRATEGY
If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. When I embarked on my first trip to Bali, my seasoned travel companions enlightened me about the “haggle,” a standard practice in bargaining. The seller presents the highest offer they can offer within the realm of a “reasonable” deal.
As the buyer, you’re expected to counter. This back-and-forth continues until both sides reach their limits of acceptance. So, don’t readily accept the initial offer. It’s quite likely to favor the other party. Even if the initial offer seems fantastic, show a bit of hesitation, don’t appear overly eager, and perhaps even reluctantly decline. Be clear whether it’s a “one-time offer” or not.
6. THE “YOU CHOOSE” NEGOTIATION STRATEGY
People enjoy feeling informed and empowered in their decisions. The act of making a choice places them in control, as they’ve been presented with options. If you can craft a limited number of choices, each stacked in your favor, the client will perceive themselves as making a well-informed decision of their choosing.
Research indicates that when you present people with three options:
- High-cost, high-value
- Moderate cost, moderate value
- Budget, low value
Most individuals tend to lean toward the middle option. By asking the question “Which option do you prefer?” you also open the door for the “How would you like it?” trick. You’re likely familiar with the “buy 2, get 1 free” or “take it home now, pay later” tactics, which encourage you to part with a bit more based on the allure of a better package.
It’s all about playing with your perception of value.
In the end, remember that this isn’t about steamrolling others. Being a “killer” negotiator isn’t exactly the right term—it makes you sound predatory. Skilled negotiators also possess a strong sense of empathy and respect. They don’t just listen; they truly comprehend the wants, needs, desires, and fears of the person on the other side of the negotiation table.
A GOOD NEGOTIATOR WINS A DEAL, A SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATOR CREATES A WIN-WIN!
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About the Author
Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships