We negotiate every day, don’t we? Whether it is with our partners over dinner, our kids over bedtime, or in our day-to-day jobs. If only it were always this easy!
But let’s face it - negotiating in sales just isn’t fun times for most of us. In fact, it is downright scary.
When I checked the sales data from the Objective Management group from just over 2 million sales professionals who are measured on 21 different sales-specific competencies, negotiating was the third-worst skillset sellers and leaders for that matter- have. Only 13% of sales professionals have strong negotiation skills.
Why does the idea of negotiating cause so much fear in us?
Is it possible to become a fearless negotiator?
There are 11 different attributes we measure for in sellers and leaders to understand how best to help them become better negotiators. The most important one out of those eleven is the ability to seek a win/win.
- Seeks Win/Win
- Willing to Walk
- Manages Appropriate Amount of Patience
- Able to Listen and Ask with Ease
- Controls Emotions
- Problem Solver
- Doesn’t Need to be Liked
- Rejection Proof
- Selling Value
- Able to Discuss Money
That is why when I finished reading Fotini Iconompoulos’ book “Say Less, Get More”, I knew I had to have her on the next episode of What Sales Can Learn. She writes that a lot of us struggle with negotiating because we see it as a way to get what we want… “It’s my way or the highway baby”.
When we make it about ourselves, we become competitive negotiators.
It's a win-lose situation. And so that feeds our need for approval and our fear of rejection. As a result, we feel threatened and our brains go into fight or flight mode. In our reptilian brain, the amygdala takes over. And then suddenly our emotions are this elephant that's just running rampant with us as a rider, trying to just kind of hold on for dear life.
But instead when we look at the win-win, when we go from being competitive to being more collaborative, we’re doing what Fotini calls “our way of negotiating”.
So how do we stop the elephant so that we can Become More Collaborative and Fearless negotiators?
The first tip that Fotini shares in her book is to take a pause. Yeah, like that seems pretty simple, doesn't it? But pausing is actually one of the hardest things to do. Especially when our emotions are up and the blood is pumping.
Yet when we do pause, when we slow down our breathing and our heart rate, it signals to our brain to also slow down. And rather than reacting, we’re able to be present with our emotions. Which is exactly what helps us to get past them.
One of the things that Fotini shares in her book is that when we pause, it gives us a few moments to consider some quick questions. Like how much time does this conversation need to be and how much do I really know about what's going on? And how well do I know this person? How willing is that person to get creative with me?
When I say negotiating in sales, what's the first thing that you think of? It’s the price, right? The money piece? It's the most common one that we hear.
Frank Belzer, a sales mentor once shared with me that there are other ways for customers and clients to pay you.
There are other forms of payment or value that you can exchange with clients in addition to the money piece that could become terms for negotiations. Things like how the terms are actually done. How you actually get paid or how the execution is going to work or the timeline that that happens in. Or even referrals and introductions to others for more or new business later on.
And the more complex negotiations get, the harder it's going to be for us to know what to share. Especially when we’re the buyers.
See Fotini writes that when buyers share preferences and priorities, it's pretty safe for them to do that.
But when it comes to sharing the weight of importance of those things, that information to be shared is going to require some trust. And that buyer, if they don't trust you isn't going to share that information because they're afraid that we're going to use it to take advantage of them.
Until next time, keep learning and sharing out there!
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