7 of the Most Important Negotiation Training Rules in Business

by Staff & Contributors

Negotiation skills are an important part of business success and can help create a strong competitive edge. In today’s cutthroat marketplace, a competitive edge is essential for survival. 45% of new businesses fail during the first five years, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The ability to negotiate well is a learnable skill you can improve by reading or using onsite negotiation training programs. Regardless of how you choose to learn, here are some rules to keep in mind for business success.

Preparation

Negotiations can be stressful, emotional, and frustrating. If you’re prepared for the meeting, though, you can maximize opportunities for success.

Preparation can also be a source of deal-making power.

One of the most important tools of persuasion is the ability to counter objections with convincing counterarguments. Preparation allows you to think of what objections someone could have, and possible responses.

Ask questions

The more you know about the person you’re meeting with and the issues on the table, the better. Asking questions in an engaging way is both an art and a science.

For example, here’s a great open opportunity question: “In which ways might this option solve your challenges?” Friendly, open-ended questions encourage the other person to engage in conversation.

Since feedback is a vital tool when learning how to phrase the most powerful questions, onsite training can be a useful way of developing this skill.

Practice active listening

Negotiation involves people with different needs and goals trying to agree on matters of mutual interest. One skill that has a positive impact on that process is the ability to listen actively.

Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond, and remember what is being said. Strong listening skills can help you find out what the other person’s real needs are and find ways to create win/win outcomes.

Don’t get hung up on one issue

Often, negotiations involve multiple items on which those involved need to agree. If you get stuck on an item, don’t get hung up on it. When you try to force an agreement, you may cause emotions to rise – or worse, sour the relationship.

Instead, set that issue aside by saying something like, “Okay, let’s come back to that later.” When temperatures cool down, you can revisit any pending items. You may find that creative solutions are often easier to find outside the heat of the discussion.

Challenge first offers

Let’s say you’re selling your car. The first person who calls accepts the price without argument. Although you got your asking price, you may think you could have done better. The same is true in business deal-making.

In negotiation training, you learn that the best agreements are those when both sides feel that the deal gives them plenty of value. Not challenging the first offer or counteroffer can have the opposite effect.

When people approach discussions ready to fight, they might miss out on a great deal. In onsite negotiation training programs, participants learn how to approach discussions as an activity happening “with” rather than “against” someone.

Confirm agreements in writing

Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships, negotiations included. Sometimes, though, trust can break down. Therefore, it’s important to safeguard any oral agreements by getting everything down in writing.

During the discussion, it’s advisable for you or someone on your team to record who you met, where, when, and the key terms agreed. Send a written confirmation soon after the meeting, showing all agreements reached.

In negotiation training, you learn that written confirmations are often the best way to crystallize future arguments. Documented proof of a verbal conversation may even save you expensive legal action.

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