Wouldn’t it be great if every client agreed to all the terms of a sale, no questions asked and no negotiation required? Although most people answer “Yes” to this question, any salesperson knows that negotiating a sale is never that easy. And while negotiation is one of the most commonly practiced functions of communication, it often is the least understood.
Because most people don’t understand the dynamics of negotiation,
they may get nervous or apprehensive about the process. Even professional
salespeople get sweaty palms and anxious stomachs before sitting
down at the bargaining table. The trouble resides in all the myths
associated with negotiation.
But, regardless of what you’re selling, you can make the inevitable
sales process more productive when you understand and overcome the
following seven myths of negotiation:
• Myth 1: In order to be a successful negotiator, you must
be a real SOB.
Mythbuster: This statement is completely false. In fact,
most people become SOBs in sales situations because they are poor
negotiators and must resort to ruthlessness to get what they want.
In reality, effective negotiation has a great deal to do with the
attitude you bring to the table. If you approach negotiation as
a win-or-lose battle, then that’s exactly what you’ll
get: a battle. You’ll struggle against the other party, waste
time and energy defending positions and resort to sneaking things
past your counterparts.
Then when it’s all said and done, you’ll probably come
away with less than if you’d have treated the negotiation as
an opportunity for everyone involved to profit.
• Myth 2: Negotiating is synonymous with fighting.
Mythbuster: Fights generally break out when people can’t
negotiate effectively. When you understand effective negotiation,
you can actually head off misunderstandings and conflicts that may
arise in the process.
You’ll know how to settle issues with customers without fighting
and, in many cases, you’ll be able to mediate conflicts, misunderstandings
and stalemates between other people and groups.
• Myth 3: Negotiating is a talent reserved for shrewd businesspeople,
experienced diplomats and precocious children.
Mythbuster: Anyone can learn to negotiate effectively, without
being a genius or manipulative. Most salespeople don’t consider
themselves negotiators, and certainly not professional negotiators.
Many equate professional negotiators with hard-charging corporate
raiders launching takeovers on other businesses, diplomats meeting
to discuss the fates of nations, or lawyers settling million-dollar
lawsuits. But each and every person on the planet is a negotiator,
and many times without realizing it.
When you take time to learn the art of effective negotiation, you
actually can get more of what you want. You can forge better and
more productive relationships with your clients and all the people
around you in other areas of life.
• Myth 4: When you sit down at the bargaining table, you
must abandon all ethics to get what you want.
Mythbuster: Getting what you want doesn’t mean stealing
it from others. By understanding negotiation, you can prevent being
conned into things you don’t want to do or getting less than
Consider negotiating for a new sales position. The terms you agree
on with the new employer will obviously affect your time with that
particular company, and also your time with future employers. The
compensation package from one company will set the pattern for the
level of income you can command when negotiating with other companies.
It’s not unusual for the difference in two people’s earnings
to be more affected by their individual negotiating abilities than
their experience or talents.
• Myth 5: You must have the upper hand to negotiate effectively.
Mythbuster: If you think that negotiation involves one group
trying to beat the other out of a good deal, then you have an inaccurate
perception of the process.
Actually, the weaker your position, the better your negotiating
skills must be because you can save a huge amount of money. For
example, suppose you’re negotiating the price of a new computer
system for your company. The person selling the system knows your
current system is outdated and that you must make a purchase immediately
to stay competitive. If you can bring the price down $15,000 from
what the seller asks, you’ll save much more than the upfront
cost. By the time you add interest on a five-year financing plan,
you’ll have quite a savings that’s well worth the negotiating
• Myth 6: Negotiating is a time-wasting activity that only
clogs the wheels of progress.
Mythbuster: When done right, negotiating is an enormous timesaver
because it makes everyone work together to find solutions.
Rather than struggling through a one-sided sale, it is much easier
when both parties understand how to negotiate and actively participate
in the process to produce the best results possible for everyone.
Plus, enlisting others can help fulfill your plans and dreams.
• Myth 7: Negotiating is always a formal process with clearly
defined parameters and procedures.
Mythbuster: Negotiating is the sum and substance of all human
give and take.
That’s right; negotiation actually takes many different forms
that you may not normally consider. For example, if you and your
spouse are deciding who’s going to prepare dinner and who’s
going to clean up the dirty dishes, then you’re negotiating.
Or maybe you’re haggling the price of an item at a garage sale
with the seller; this is also a negotiating process.
Chances are you negotiate much more frequently than you think. In
fact, any time you’re making a deal or working out any kind
of agreement with anyone, then you’re negotiating. And if you’re
conducting these daily negotiations effectively, you’ll reach
an agreement that satisfies both parties.
You actually can improve your professionalism in dealing with all
types of people by applying some of the negotiation skills you practice
without realizing it.
REAP THE BENEFITS
Human beings negotiate constantly, so it’s vital to get beyond
the negative thoughts that cause us to ask for less than we deserve.
And the art of negotiation requires more than just trading off with
others to get the things you want.
Negotiating is a process of understanding people and discovering
ways you can work together to produce positive results for everyone
involved. When you understand the myths surrounding the negotiation
process, then overcome these fallacies, you will reap greater benefits
from your sales profession.
Most important, you’ll come away from every sale completely
satisfied for yourself and confident that the other party feels
a similar satisfaction.
John Patrick Dolan is a recognized convention presenter, member
of the National Speakers Association Speakers Hall of Fame and author
of the best-selling book “Negotiate Like the Pros.” He
can be reached at (888) 830-2620; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
or visit www.negotiatelikethepros.com.