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Negotiation is an often daunting but necessary part of making a sale, settling specifications, and deciding on deadlines. The main goal is to reach an agreement that works for everyone, but many team members (and leaders) feel nervous approaching the conversation. Whether they did not properly prepare, they lack confidence in their negotiation skills or they let their emotions dictate the discussion, people often fumble when it comes to negotiating.

While negotiation may not be your strong suit, you can take steps to master the art of this important sales skill. The real magic happens in the pre-negotiation stage. 

You must keep your emotions in check

You might experience a full spectrum of emotions before negotiating, including doubt, anxiety, and fear. To become an expert negotiator, you must learn how to control these disruptive emotions before they debilitate your efforts. Emotional control means staying aware of your emotions and their negative effects to best control what you say and do. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, but you must not let them control your behavior. Instead, identify your feelings and stop them from overtaking the conversation. 

You should only negotiate when you are confident you have a solution

Another fundamental of negotiation is paying attention to the solutions you have to offer that get to the negotiation stage. Many poorly qualified clients get to the latter process stages only to stall and congest the project process or sales pipeline. This often happens when team members try to hold on to solutions that are not right for the client.  To succeed at negotiation, be sure to only negotiate your solutions with clients that meet your company’s qualification requirements. 

You should actively engage in effective discovery

Negotiation also involves mastering the ability to discover stakeholders’ emotional and business needs, as well as their expectations. When you understand your clients’ objectives and issues, you can present a solid solution and increase your chances of moving forward, profitably. In addition, the discovery also allows you to counter common objections at the negotiation table, such as “This costs a lot” and “Your competition seems to be less expensive.”

You must trust the process

The final fundamental of negotiation is sticking to the process. This means not becoming overly eager and caving to the whims and requests of the client. When this happens, you step away from the defined process and can end up losing your relationship and eating away at your profit margins. High-performing teams take every opportunity to enhance their win probability by aligning their clients’ buying and decision-making process to their own process. 

Few people look forward to negotiating, but you can make this part of the project process smoother by following the guidance above. Remember that the real negotiation happens before you ever sit down to discuss details. You should only negotiate with decision-makers. You should also fully understand their needs and issues going into the conversation. Avoid letting your emotions control your behavior during negotiations and always follow the outlined process. When you follow these fundamentals, you can create a win-win for everyone involved.   And this will help you thrive.

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