Hey, did you read any of those Harry Potter books (or at least see one of the movies?) If you did, then you probably got drawn into the world of magic and wizards that the books are all about. It sure seems as though in these stories that there is a magic portion or a curse to do just about anything. The stories are fiction but it turns out that sales negotiators do have some real magic that they can use to get what they want during a negotiation…
The Power Of The Word “No”
For some odd reason in Western cultures there seems to be a social stigma associated with saying the word “no” to someone – even when we’re in the middle of a sales negotiation. If you want to be successful, you’re going to have to learn to get over this hang up.
I’m not talking about just saying “no” and then turning your back to the other side of the table. Instead, I’m going to suggest a two-part “no” strategy. The first part, naturally, consists of you saying “no”. The second part is where you take the time to explain to the other side of the table WHY you said no. The goal here is to explain your reasoning in a clear and logical fashion.
One of the reasons that so many of us really dislike saying (or sticking with ) a “no” is because we think that it’s going to make the other side of the table feel bad. What’s interesting about this is that more often than not, we’re wrong about this.
Getting a “no” from us might be exactly what the other side of the table wants. It closes the door on this part of the negotiation and so they can move on to the next part. If asked by their bosses, they can at least say that they asked and we said “no”.
In the world of negotiating, just about everyone agrees that the Japanese are the best at saying “no” . They have a way of saying it in such a way that you don’t feel bad when you hear it: “yes, but …” or “no, maybe…”.
Give Them An Opportunity To Vent
Just how do you think your response of a “no” is going to make the other side of the table feel? Sad? Angry? You bet! When they are feeling this way they are going to want to vent, let off some steam. If you are wise, you’ll go ahead and let them do this.
The reasoning behind this strategy is subtle, but complex. By allowing the other side to go on a rant, you are deliberately not restricting their actions. If you tried to do this they just might go postal and storm out of the negotiations. By allowing them to do some yelling, you are providing them with a safe way to work through their frustrations.
Another point that you should keep in mind is that when the other side is venting, they may actually be showing off for the rest of their team. Remember that when the sales negotiations are done, they are going to have to report to their bosses who will ask if they did everything that they could in order to get the best deal possible. Reports of their tirade may serve to convince their internal audience that they did a good job.
What All Of This Means For You
Forget the magic that Harry Potter is able to call upon, today’s sales negotiators need to find some practical magic. The good news is that there seems to be plenty of it around for us to use.
The simple word “no” can be the one word that allows you to get what you want during your next sales negotiation. You just need to find the courage to say it and stick with it. Once you’ve said it, you’ll need to give the other side of the table a chance to work out their frustration.
If you can do both of these things, then you’ll be that much closer to striking a good deal during your next negotiation. Who can say “no” to that?
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Help For Technical Staff
Question For You: Once you’ve said “no” to something, do you think that you can ever change you mind and say “yes” to it without losing face?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
In the world of negotiating, the actual process of negotiating is very much an art. In order to be good at it, a master sales negotiator needs to have a complete collection of negotiating tactics at his or her disposal…