A prospective buyer for my wife’s Beetle (2013, light blue, good nick, £1,250) came for a test drive recently. He started conditioning me: “You know I’ll want to negotiate on the price.” “Cool,” I calmly replied. Arriving back at my house, “I said I want to negotiate,” he reiterates forcefully. I respond: “I know. How’s £1,350?” You can imagine his reaction. Apparently this is not how negotiation works. No? He said he wanted to negotiate. That means the price can go down and also up.
The world of grocery is a tough one, particularly in the UK and even more so since the year of the dreaded ‘C’. Being able to negotiate effectively is a core skill for buyers and account managers, of course, but also for anyone that wants to achieve better. More salary? Negotiate. More resource for your project? Negotiate. More bottom line? Negotiate.
When you think of good negotiators, you probably think of a gruff old boy banging his fist on the table. In my experience, the better negotiators are the more curious ones. I’ve seen marketers achieve better results than account managers because they ask more questions. There are six stages to negotiation and most people skip the first two – prepare and explore – and go straight to proposal, and then end up in a deadlock on price.
These tips will improve your negotiation skills:
- Preparation: Most people skip it. Not because they want to. They just don’t know how to do it effectively and so create a PowerPoint presentation. Use our three-step template to prepare. We call it the ‘squaredance’. A simple Google search will find the template for free.
- Conditioning: You know when you go into a garage, tell them the problem and the guy behind the counter sucks his teeth? That’s conditioning. In the business world you would call it ‘managing expectations’. So, when someone asks you for a ridiculous price, or request, do what the guy at your local garage does.
- ‘If you, then I’: Every negotiation training company teaches it because it works. If you are making a proposal, say what you want first, and then what you are prepared to give. It keeps them listening to the whole proposal because the bit they want is at the end.