How To Hire A Negotiator

by drjim on December 9, 2008

Sometimes It Is Desirable To Bring In A Negotiator From The Outside

Sometimes It Is Desirable To Bring In A Negotiator From The Outside

In life, there are some situations that you will be called on to negotiate in order to get what you want / need.  However, there will also be situations in which you have the time (and the budget!) to reach out and get outside help.

Getting outside negotiating help can be especially critical if the type of negotiation that you are preparing to start is of a very technical or detailed nature. If you can find someone who has “been there, done that” you can significantly improve the odds of being successful in the negotiations. Now the big question is just how does one go about hiring a negotiator?

The challenge in interviewing someone to do negotiating on your behalf is that negotiation is a very difficult job to do. The reason that negotiating is such a challenge is because it doesn’t just require one or two specific skills, but rather a whole collection of skills that we really don’t find in business.

At a very high level, a good negotiator has the ability to show good business sense while at the same time displaying a deep understanding of how people think and act. It is a rare thing indeed to find both of these qualities in a single individual. Couple that with any special knowledge or experience that you are looking for and choosing the wrong negotiator to represent you can appear to be all too easy.

The following 10 characteristics of a good negotiator are what you should be looking for when you are interviewing possible candidates. It’s going to take some probing on your part to uncover these traits, but it will be worth the effort:

  1. Must have the ability to negotiate well with members of YOUR team. If the candidate can’t win the confidence of your team, how can you expect him to succeed in the negotiation with the other side?
  2. Must show that he/she has the ability to construct a plan and the commitment to follow it through. The ability to realize that not all information may be available before the negotiation starts and the willingness to check facts and alter plans as new details emerge are also critical.
  3. Did I mention the need for sound business sense? The ability to see through the fog of negotiations and identify the issues that will have an impact on your bottom line is key.
  4. The ability to deal with both ambiguity (both before and during the negotiations) as well as conflict during the actual negotiations.
  5. The willingness to aim high when setting goals for the negotiations.
  6. The ability to realize that a negotiation is a process and the patience to wait for the other side to reveal more so that the process can move forward.
  7. The ability to personally connect with both your team and the other side. Yes, negotiation is a business process, but the personal touch can make all the difference when it comes to closing the deal.
  8. A realization that his / her personal integrity is what matters above all else.
  9. The ability to, no matter how heated a discussion gets, listen with an open mind to what the other side is saying.
  10. The self-confidence that is needed to see a negotiation through from start to finish.

What else do you think should be added to my list? Is there anything on the list that you think could be dropped? Which one of these 10 items is the most important in your opinion? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Zan December 10, 2008 at 12:30 am

When I’m hiring a salespeople I feel better about their negotiation skills if they ask for a higher salary than is offered – even if just a tad higher and even if the answer is no to the higher salary. This is in sync with your #5 “willingness to aim high” trait. (Certainly, the interviewee wouldn’t bring up salary until an official offer is made and would discuss it at the appropriate time – after they have shown their value). This tells me that the person won’t settle for less than is possible while negotiating on my company’s behalf and that the salesperson isn’t afraid to ask for what he feels something is worth.

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Jaime April 20, 2009 at 10:13 pm

If anyone is interested in a Negotiator to help them negotiate pricing or other terms with their suppliers, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Supplier Negotiators. We work on their behalf for a percentage of the savings, so they won’t have to hire an actual employee with all the cost involved.

Thank you,

Jaime

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