Every Negotiation Needs A Rap(port) Star!

by drjim on December 16, 2008

Establishing Rapport With The Other Side Is Music To Everyone's Ears

Establishing Rapport With The Other Side Is Music To Everyone

So here’s something that will blow your mind: studies have shown that car shopping customers are willing to pay between $200 and $300 MORE for a car if during the negotiation process they became convinced that the salesperson was committed to their satisfaction.

Wow – talk about a successful negotiation for the salesperson. But wait, isn’t the customer the customer getting something out of this also – satisfaction. Think back over all of those deals in which you have been the customer and in which you walked away afterwards feeling less than satisfied. Perhaps nobody is getting taken for a ride here (sorry for the pun).

It’s possible that the customer side in this type of deal can actually put a value on being made to feel satisfied: $200-$300. Hmm, if it’s true when people are buying cars, just imagine what feeling satisfied must be worth when you are working on a much larger deal!

All this comes down to one thing: part of the price that is being negotiated is friendship and goodwill. Angry, bitter, combative negotiators will get beaten down on price each and every time. In all business negotiations we must remember that we are negotiating not only things (goods and services), but also attitudes.

As the car buying study shows, part of the price of any deal that you negotiate will include:

  1. Trust: does the other side trust that you have been straight with them and that you will keep your word after the deal is signed?
  2. Friendship: yes, friendship does still exist in the 21st Century. Does the other side believe that they have developed a relationship with you that will continue to exist after the negotiations are completed?
  3. Integrity: would you do something that you knew was wrong? Would you sell a product or a service that you knew was flawed or wasn’t going to meet a customer’s needs?
  4. Goodwill: do you have that intangible asset that makes the other side believe that you will do them no harm?
  5. Credibility: does your track record support what you are saying?
  6. Authority: do you really have the ability to deliver all that you have promised?
  7. Status: are you the peer or the better of the other side – are you the right one for them to be negotiating with?

It’s important to note that there is a HUGE difference between establishing rapport (a connection) with the other side vs. just being cooperative. Experiments have shown that when the other side is exploitative, they can easily take advantage of cooperative negotiators.

So where does all of this lead to? It’s as simple as realizing that compatible attitudes between both sides of the negotiating table are needed in order to be able to reach solid, long-lasting agreements. In the end, there is no way that either side can trust what the other side has promised if the two sides can’t trust each other.

Although they may not be listed on the list of bargaining points that you drew up before the negotiations started, everything that we’ve discussed including recognition, friendship, and trust are always items that are up for negotiation. It’s well worth the extra time that it takes to make sure both sides walk way mutually satisfied.

Have you ever negotiated a deal and then left unsatisfied? How much would you have paid to have been satisfied? Have you ever formed a lasting friendship with the other side during a negotiation? How important is trust to you when you are negotiating with someone? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ted Linklater July 6, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I’m not sure that Trust can be earned on the first meeting, assuming that both sides have never met before.

Is it possible that the car salesman mentioned above only made potential clients feel more comfortable, rather than been trustworthy?

Having said that I would think that an organization that has earned trust would have a competitive advantage over a new competitor.

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