12 March 2018
I was recently asked why we Brits are such bad negotiators. A few years ago I would have wholeheartedly disagreed with the statement but when you consider the situation with Brexit negotiations, I can’t really contest it, can I?
I wonder if it is perhaps because choosing to be a salesperson is almost frowned upon here in the UK. When I gave a talk a few years ago I researched courses in the UK for sales and there wasn’t one degree-level course. In the US, there are hundreds of them.
When I wanted to learn more about sales and negotiation I travelled all the way to Fiji! Tony Robbins, along with teachings from Sales legend Chet Holmes, were there running a training camp. I wanted to see how I compared and what I could learn. The techniques I picked up could be used in anything from hostage situations to persuading your children that they only need one bedtime story rather than two.
Ultimately, there are four outcomes to a negotiation:
- Win-Win: we all want a win-win situation and, whilst they are unusual, we should always enter negotiation striving for this.
- Win-Lose: I don’t like this outcome. Whenever you win at the cost of someone else you leave the other party feeling aggrieved. You can’t build a business or relationships on these outcomes.
- Lose-Win: As above, but you’re the aggrieved party. Of course, you never want to end a negotiation in this way.
- Lose-Lose: this is where both parties would lose if the deal were done. This is when you should walk away.
It is worth noting that there is no shame in walking away from a negotiation if it isn’t right – if there are no positive outcomes or there’s potential to damage a relationship, walk away.
Negotiating Your Worth
Knowing your worth and a fair price are incredibly important.
For example, when you come into a job interview and negotiate salary, how would you approach it? Coming in with a huge salary demand can be daunting for the business. It also puts a huge amount of pressure on your shoulders to prove that you’re worth your salt. Whereas if you come in and ask for a salary a little lower, tell me how much you’re going to transform the business so you’d like a salary review in six months, I’d have a huge level of respect for that. It’s a compromise almost, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a better outcome by negotiating this way in the long run.
I think the key to negotiating is practice – don’t be afraid to try. Do your research, know your price and your worth, and be fair. When you spend time honing a craft you, of course, become better at it.
Equally, don’t squeeze the orange for every last drop of juice. Business is built on relationships and if you leave a negotiation with animosity on either side, you’ve burned a bridge for the future.
I remember at the training in Fiji, we met a real-life Jerry Maguire character. He’d come to the session having completed a £60 million sports deal. He likened his negotiation style to that of just being a friend – that’s the most important part of business. It’s that simple.