By Goke Ilesanmi
Last week, we examined the Harvard Negotiation Project tagged called “Seven Elements framework” as regards negotiation. We said there is no disputing the fact that most people are not natural or born negotiators. We added that the good news is that research consistently shows that most people can significantly improve on their negotiation skills through training/education, preparation and practice.
We stressed that for such people, Harvard Negotiation Project seems to have come to the rescue as members of the project have developed a framework to help people prepare more effectively for negotiation.
We explained that the project describes the essential tools needed to identify our goals, prepare effectively to minimise surprises and take advantage of opportunities as they arise in negotiation.
We said Bruce Patton has also discussed these elements contained in the framework of the Harvard Negotiation Project in his book “The Handbook of Dispute Resolution”.
We explained that these critical elements are interests, legitimacy, relationships, Alternatives and Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), options, commitments and communication.
Negotiation and persuasion
Though negotiation and persuasion are almost the same, they are not always semantically co-extensive, that is, they are not interchangeable all situations. Negotiation involves reaching an agreement on price or on the specific terms of an agreement; while persuasion, on the other hand, is the art of getting people to go along with your points of view, to see everything your own way. However, as Roger Dawson, one of America’s top experts on negotiation, founder of the Power Negotiating Institute and author of the two masterpieces “Secrets of Power Negotiating for Salespeople” and “Secrets of Power Persuasion for Salespeople” puts it, we need negotiation skills to be a good persuader and we need persuasion skills to be a good negotiator.
Sales negotiation and challenges
Just as we are all negotiators, whether consciously or unconsciously, all of us are equally salespeople in a way. So we need to learn and master how to apply negotiation skills in selling our services, skills, books, etc. According to Dawson, only the best and brightest salespeople will be equipped to grow and prosper in the next millennium, in the face of constant shifts in the vocation (indeed, the life) of selling. He says he foresees three major trends coming to fruition:
(1) Buyers are becoming better negotiators. Customers seem intent on improving their bottom lines by taking away from yours as sellers. This is a trend that is certain to continue in the foreseeable future.
(2) Buyers are better informed than ever due to digital revolution. Buyers used to need salespeople because they brought to the table a wealth of valuable information the buyers could not get elsewhere. That knowledge was (and is) power — power the salesperson could use to his or her advantage at any point in the negotiation or sale. Thanks to point-of-sale data collection, demographic analysis and the Internet, buyers have all that information more literally at their fingertips, and the power that accompanies that information is theirs to wield, not the salesperson’s.
(3) Salespeople are facing a role reversal. The once highly defined role of the salesperson has now blurred to include a host of other tasks, including becoming buyers for retailers, specialty stores, supermarkets and the like — an intriguing role reversal. To meet this challenge, salespeople must be more intelligent, versatile, and better trained than ever. And, most of all, they must become better negotiators.
Salespeople now need to know a bit of psychology to determine, identify and engage in the dynamics of the negotiation. They would also need to analyse the personality of their buyers to understand how they act and react, offer and counter. Most importantly, they will need a strategy to tie it all together, a collection of instructions to guide them through every tactic of negotiation.
The fact remains that we must all endeavour to learn the rudiments of building blocks of indispensable negotiation skills. This is because we often engage in negotiation without knowing. According to Katie Shonk, a negotiation expert, many people dread negotiation without realising that they negotiate on a regular, even daily basis.
As Shonk puts it, “Most of us face formal negotiations throughout our personal and professional lives: discussing the terms of a job offer with a recruiter, haggling over the price of a new car, hammering out a contract with a supplier. Then there are the more informal, less obvious negotiations we take part in daily: persuading a toddler to eat his peas, working out a conflict with a coworker, or convincing a client to accept a late delivery.”
Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton in their negotiation classic christened “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” reinforce Shonk’s assertion by saying, “Like it or not, you are a negotiator … Everyone negotiates something every day.”
Consciously or unconsciously, we naturally or situationally engage in negotiation. This automatically compels us to learn and master the rudiments of negotiation and be professional at it. It requires us to give our best.
We need to resolve today to enhance our negotiation skills as individuals, educational institutions, corporate organisations, governments, etc., so that we can enjoy good deals and massive harmony in our society.
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GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant. Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425