What Makes a Successful Business Negotiator?

GETTING TO YES…

Two people are engaged in a negotiation – one achieves his/her objective(s) and is pleased, whilst the other walks away disappointed with the outcome.

How often have you felt dissatisfied with an agreement that you have reached? Have you ever entered into an agreement only to feel remorse soon after sealing the deal?

SUCCESS VS FAILURE

What then distinguishes success vs failure in business negotiations? Do we ascribe our business negotiation success to the characteristics & personality traits that we were born with, or are there conscious developmental actions that we can take to improve our negotiated outcomes? Many of us find ourselves in positions where we have to negotiate professionally on a daily basis. Most of us recognise the importance of preparation to achieve success in almost anything we do.

It is therefore quite interesting to note that the majority of business negotiators do not spend adequate time preparing for negotiations. It is a well established fact that professional sports people spend significantly more time preparing for competition than they spend in competition. Should it be any different for business negotiators?

THE EVIDENCE

Research conducted by The Negotiation Academy has found that from a group of 430 business negotiators surveyed, the average time spent in preparation as a ratio against time spent in actual negotiations amounts to an average of 35%. In other words, business negotiators only spend approximately 1/3 as much time preparing for negotiation as they actually spend in negotiation.

Let us add some perspective to this startling statistic. If you were a professional sports person, this would mean that you spent only 1/3 as much time training & preparing as you do competing. Small wonder then that so many people are disappointed with their negotiated outcomes. It follows that the number 1 contributor to successful business negotiation outcomes is the quality of our preparation for the negotiation.

The Top 5 Components of Preparation:

1. Understand Yourself

Before we even begin to understand and apply best- and leading practice negotiation, it is imperative that we first invest in understanding ourselves. Any professional sports person will tell you that the cornerstone of improvement is gaining an understanding of your own strengths & weaknesses. The idea is to optimise your strengths and find ways to minimise the impact of weaknesses. In negotiation, it is important that we make use of personal profiling tools, such as the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument, to highlight our areas of preference within the context of negotiations. This is like the golfer being videotaped with a view to having his or her swing analysed. It enables us to have a reference point from which to plot our skills development.

2. Vision

What is the vision or ultimate goal behind the negotiation? Is your negotiation really about price or is it about the value that can be derived/added? What are the main motivating factors behind your counterparty’s position in the negotiation? What common ground, if any, exists between your vision and your counterparty’s vision? It is important to understand the drivers or silent motivations behind the positions of all parties to the negotiation. It is only by asking questions that we will uncover the real motivations behind these positions assumed by our counterparties.

3. Value

What are the key deal objectives being pursued in this negotiation? What are the facts and figures supporting the negotiation environment? What alternatives does each party have, if any? Once again we should try to identify, prioritise & weigh the objectives of all parties to the negotiation. Once this has been achieved, we are in a position to highlight those objectives that are shared and at the same time, we can prepare ourselves to deal with those objectives that are likely to cause conflict.

4. Process

Have you spent time thinking about an agenda for your upcoming negotiation? Will you note all the concessions that you will give & receive? Will you ensure that the negotiation is minuted? Do you have tools/templates at your disposal to support the effectiveness and efficiency of the negotiation cycle in its entirety? It is important to ensure that you are well organised for your upcoming negotiation. Write down the key questions that you need to ask during the negotiation, lest you get sidetracked and forget to extract critical information.

5. Relationship

Never forget that we all negotiate with people. It is easy to forget that we deal with individuals who have goals & aspirations not unlike our own goals & aspirations. It is not always just about the facts & figures. The research is clear that people are more likely to deal with those whom they trust & like, than those with whom they have no rapport or share no similarities with. Try to focus on those elements that you share with your negotiation counterparties, and do not forget to focus on the human elements – all of which constitute the Climate of the negotiation.

The clear answer to what makes a successful business negotiator is…..preparation, preparation, preparation.

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Advanced Presentation Skills Training

Being able to communicate effectively is a great asset for any employee and can help build your
career. To present at an advanced level is easy when you know how. Following these 12 points will
help you get started:

Think about your structure: remember to tell us, tell us and tell us. That means getting your message over 3 times. Once is not enough if it’s important. You’ll receive a circular on average 4 times before you ‘see’ it. In the same way you need to repeat your main message at least 3 times if you want your audience to ‘hear’ it.
You will need a good opening to grab our attention. Please don’t start with ‘hello my name is…and I’m here to talk to you about…’ This is a thoroughly over-used start.
Say what your purpose of this presentation is and what you want to achieve; it helps you if you use an agenda slide.
Put your main reason (to persuade us) up front followed by your less strong arguments. Please remember there are never 7 good reasons for doing anything. Three is more than enough for the time you have.Avoid the formula, ‘method, result conclusion,’ if possible.
We are less interested in the ‘how,’ than the ‘why’ and the ‘WHAT’. If you are getting into the ‘how’ ask yourself, ‘does my audience really need to know this?’
Think about the words you use to emphasize your message. Your words reveal a lot about you. And we’ll make assumptions and have opinions based on the words you say and how you say them. When it sounds like a shopping list be sure that clapping is zapping.
Think about the pictures you create to support your message.Most of us use visual recall. So think about your slide deck – add pictures where you can. And remember that words create mind pictures too. So ask yourself what you want to leave us with.
The words you use affect the way you deliver them – and the way you are perceived. They also reflect how you think. So get personal – use “you”, “we”, “I”. There’s nothing more boring than long sentences with passive verbs. Your audience want to know that you are talking to them. So just do it and they’ll love you for recognising them.
Try to stick to the timing. If you are asked to prepare a 30 minute presentation then prepare 25 minutes only. This allows for questions, mishaps and delays.
Try not to end with, ‘thank you any questions’. Everyone does this; how do you differentiate yourself?
Words are not visuals, and visuals are not cue cards. Try to avoid whole sentences on your visuals otherwise you will be tempted to read them. Please try to use font size 28 to limit the information on your slide.
Try to prepare a maximum of one slide per two minutes. Or if you prefer no slides. Or come with flip chart paper and try that instead.

Grandfather Clocks – The Perfect Wedding Present

You are invited to your best friend’s wedding and you are wondering what to give the happy couple as a wedding present. In a few days, you’ll be dashing around store after store to look for the best gift money can buy.

But this is not just any ordinary gift! You are giving it to your best friends. You want it to be special. You want it to be unique. How do you manage to get the perfect, unduplicated gift possible? Well, you can opt to be creative and personalize it and make it yourself, or you can buy it. There are three ways that can guarantee you to the perfect wedding present.

Use Your Imagination

Some people are blessed with a special innate creative talent for creating things out of nothing and making them special. Some people can make soap or scented candles, or make knitted things. But these are too common. You might end up having your gift returned.

However, some people also have the uncanny ability of things that are technical in nature. If you have this, then you’re in luck. You can most probably make something that they will most probably use at their new home, that no one else has ever thought about. Try a grandfather clock as an example. Maybe if you have a knack for woodwork, you can make this magnificent piece of art by itself just from a few how-to’s on the Internet. However, only a small percentage of people actually have this ability and has the time to do it. If you really insist, you might actually end up giving the grandfather clock on their silver wedding anniversary.

Alternatively, you can also opt to buy them a grandfather clock and you will surely know that you will be able to give it to them on time and know that it will be always used for many years to come.

Personalize Your Gift

Although it would be just fine to wrap your present and send it on its merry way to the couple, it would be extra special if you could personalize it. If you know the couple well, you should be able to find something uniquely special for them. You can have a personal message added to any gift, like a grandfather clock with their last names etched on it and or the date of their wedding. Make the gifts unique to them and they will appreciate the thought and effort you put into it.

Still Clueless? Get Creative!

Choosing a wedding present has become quite difficult in the past couple of years, making it difficult for avoiding giving duplicate gifts. However, that is the common case because if you have no talent at all for handmade gifts, let alone have the words to have it personalized, you are in big trouble. You are thinking way too mainstream.

However, you can make sure that your gift won’t be returned if you decide to turn it into a worthwhile project that you put some effort into. A grandfather clock, for example, is not your run-in-the-mill kind of wedding offering. You end up having an inimitable wedding gift for the deserving couple. They will truly take pleasure in it and benefit from it for many years to come.