Sales Negotiators Need To Learn Their History Lesson

by drjim on November 4, 2011

Taking notes is an important part of learning from a negotiation

Taking notes is an important part of learning from a negotiation

When you sit down at the negotiating table with the other side, what’s running through your mind? Are you wondering what they are thinking? Are you wondering what negotiating techniques they will use? If you have studied your history lesson, then you’ll already know the answers to these questions.

History Is Always Repeated In Negotiations

There really is no excuse for not knowing the negotiation styles practiced by the other side before you sit down at the negotiating table. Everybody has a history and with a little digging, you can learn a great deal.

The easiest case is if the other side has done business with your firm in the past. There should be a history of the negotiations that they have done with you: what they bought, what they paid, who they negotiated with in the past, and any problems or issues that came up during those negotiations.

History comes along with both sides of the table: their side and yours. You arrive with a resume that consists of your practicing principled negotiation with other companies. This can be incredibly powerful as a set of current references to support you during this negotiation. You can always refer to the deals that you’ve negotiated in the past to show that you’ve negotiated successful deals in the past that benefited both sides of the table.

You Can Only Pass Your History Test If You Take Good Notes

The key to maximizing the value of each negotiation that you are involved in is to realize that you are really setting the stage for your next negotiation with this party. That means that you’re going to have to take good notes.

History does repeat itself and nowhere else is this clearer than during the negotiation process. If you’ve taken good notes the last time that you were involved in negotiations with this company, then you’ll be able to anticipate each move during the negotiation.

In order to prepare for the next time that you meet the other side of the table, you need to spend time after the current negotiation wraps up documenting what happed during the negotiation. You can think of this as being a sort of negotiation definition — it will tell you how the next time will go. You should document such things as what kind of demands the other side made as well as how they went about making concessions.

What All Of This Means For You

There is no excuse for going into your next negotiation without having a good understanding of who you are going to be up against. There should be enough of a past history of negotiations that the other side has been involved in to allow you to build a good understanding of their negotiating style.

The burden of creating a history of the other side also falls on your shoulders. After you complete a negotiation with them, you have to write down good notes about how the process went. These notes are both for you and for any other negotiator that has to go up against them in the future.

There is the saying that “knowledge is power”. Nowhere is this more true than in negotiations. The nice thing is that with some history collection efforts on your part, you can gather the knowledge that you’ll need in order to more quickly reach a successful deal!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: How much time do you think that you should invest in researching the other side of the table’s negotiating history?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to take on responsibility for a negotiation that might not be a success? I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – our company’s negotiators who are perfect are rewarded while negotiators who fail are kicked to the curb. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.

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