Negotiation skills, problem-solving strategies, and the ability to take calculative risks are three of the most vital skills any employee could have in developing business acumen skills. Understanding trade-offs and good decision-making are also good weapons to have in your arsenal. But the point of focus for today is negotiation and the power to get things done your way without the other party realizing it!
Mastering the art of negotiation will help you in building your own personal brand and career in the long run at every stage of your life. Be it with friends, family, colleagues, or clients — once a sales rep learns how to negotiate, it will become a life skill for them.
Body language and listening
There are scores of negotiation strategies out there, but a commonly overlooked one is your physical aspect. Your bargaining power will increase manifold if you master the right tone of voice and posture while negotiating. It will help you build a rapport with your client and show them that you are confident without being dominating. This will go a long way in helping you build your own personal brand.
While looking for common ground, communication is vital. “I used to employ a soothing voice during negotiations as I didn’t want to look too assertive and condescending. Now I use that tone only if I am stating immovable points in the negotiation. For example, if the client requests an extension for the trial period of the product, I add a subtle lilt to my voice to reject it politely. It is small changes in your inflection and tone that will get the point across in the right manner,” said a skilled sales rep from Bangalore.
While speaking is vital, it takes listening as well to make it a healthy conversation. Listen to your client and the words they use to define their issues. Mirror these keywords while providing a solution for them and connecting your service to their needs. It is crucial to maintain dynamic silence at the right moments to fill spaces.
Negotiation at life’s every stage
As mentioned, negotiation isn’t restricted to the boardroom. It can help you in every step of your career from recruitment to getting things done. You can maintain job satisfaction by demanding what you want while also enhancing your rapport with people and the organization.
Discussing your salary – At the start of your career, it is important to agree upon a mutually beneficial salary. This skill holds for your retirement stage as well while signing off from the business. One way to prepare for this situation is to have practice sessions and predict potential responses.
Negotiate clearly what salary you are expecting and why. What benefits are the company offering and do they align with your needs? Do the agreements mentioned in the final contract work for you? If you aren’t okay with the conditions and salary, know when to argue and when to walk out.
Asking for a raise or promotion – Most companies won’t offer annual raises and promotions unless you ask for them. It is on you to demand a raise or incentive based on your performance over a period and stand up for yourself. You need to negotiate the terms and conditions while respecting yourself and the other party equally.
“My manager refused my request for an incentive and told me to work for the company selflessly. According to him, it is additional contributions that show the employee’s loyalty to the company. I accepted everything he said, but stood my ground for my incentive. I told him I would repeat the same selfless contributions the next time the situation arose too. But the incentive would motivate me to work harder even when there was no specific situation. It was a matter of proving my loyalty to the company while also getting compensation for my efforts,” said a content strategist at a marketing agency in Hyderabad.
Negotiations with fellow employees – When you have to divide the workload among your team, you will have to discuss and negotiate with your peers. It doesn’t work to use baseless factors such as seniority to get the workload off yourself. You need to be constructive and empathetic while dividing the work among your team.
It is a matter of assigning tasks to people based on their strengths and fixing reasonable deadlines based on their availability. Indubitably, workplace conflicts and even online disagreements will pop up which you must resolve smoothly. In such cases, listen and understand the big picture before making your move to resolve it.
Client negotiations and third-party calls – You might have to represent your company in front of third-party businesses at times. Maybe your business needs new software or wishes to renew a contract outsourced to another company. In such cases, you need to know your worth and negotiate with a third-party company without compromising your business.
The same goes for your client calls as you need to sell your services without overselling them. At the same time, sales reps must learn to stop negotiating when the negotiated price and deliverables aren’t mutually agreeable for both parties.
Negotiation tips for better results
Let’s get to the good part now. How do you negotiate well and stand your ground during such circumstances to get what you want? Read on to find out!
Understand your worth
Be aware of your skills and expertise. While negotiating with your peers, always put forth factors that only you provide to the team. Maybe there is a certain task that only you can perform or there is a high-budget client who trusts only you.
Is there something only you can bring to the team or some past performance you are close to recreating? By arming yourself with such points, you can leverage your unique value in the workplace.
Never wait till the interview or meeting to begin jotting down these points. Create a sheet or document right now and start filling it up with the crucial things you do at work each day. It will be useful for you to review during times of need.
Frame your sentences accurately
Be objective in your negotiation. The best way to get what you want is to directly ask for what you want. Why do you have a Call To Action (CTA) on your website or online content? Because it will tell your audience exactly what you want them to do which will benefit your business as well as theirs. The same goes for negotiating with your team as well — ask for what you want directly.
Use “I” statements and always say, “I am not happy with my salary”. Avoid saying, “You aren’t compensating me enough”. Using “You” statements will make it sound like you are throwing the blame on the other person.
Listen to what is not being said
This strategy is a gem as you can understand what the other person is trying to gain from the negotiation. It will help you frame your argument in such a way that they get what they want while you win too.
View the situation from all angles and take your time to understand what they are saying to you. What is not being said or is being told indirectly? Based on what your client just said, what can you assume they are trying to achieve from this negotiation? You now have the upper hand to decide for two. You can plan your statements with not just your goal in mind but theirs too.
Pick a good time and have backup plans
Set up the right place and right time for the negotiation when both parties are mentally prepared and comfortable. Be flexible so you don’t pressurize yourself as well as the other person during the negotiation. Try to ask things in advance with an open deadline rather than addressing the problem when it arises. If you feel your finances will fall short at the end of the month, ask for an incentive early on.
Another crucial point is to have a backup plan in case things play out differently. For example, assume your request for raise to handle the cost of an injury is rejected. Try asking the company if you can exercise your employee insurance covering health benefits instead. No, you don’t get the raise you wanted but you do get a solution for the immediate problem at hand.
With everything said, it is also important to know when you should walk away. If the organisation is not meeting your needs despite considering multiple alternatives, decide if you should lower your standards or walk away. Never settle for something that is far too less compared to what you had in mind. Stand your ground and be confident that you deserve what you are negotiating for.
The key is to do your research and be prepared. Run through all possible scenarios and plan your response ahead of time. Decide if you are willing to compromise and if yes, then how much. Do you have a solid argument and what is the worst-case scenario that you need to be aware of? Set reasonable goals accordingly and make all the important points known while also hearing what the other party has to say.