10 negotiation skills needed for winning deals

Negotiation skills needed for winning deals


What are negotiation skills and why do you need them?

Negotiating allows two parties to come to a mutually agreeable result and is often necessary when making deals in business. Negotiation skills are needed because it’s often a lot easier said than done to bring a deal to fruition through discussion alone. A blend of both communication abilities and interpersonal skills are required to appropriately and successfully negotiate to a conclusion that both parties find acceptable.


Not all negotiation skills are created equal

Blustering, argumentative behaviour, and demands aren’t negotiation skills – rather, they lack the communicative element that true negotiation demands. You must listen to your opponent, see things from their perspective, and adapt your needs as far as possible to accommodate theirs. They must also attempt to compromise on the superficial demands in an effort to accommodate your core requirements, so that the two of you can come to an outcome both can agree on.

Here are our 10 negotiation skills required for closing the deal


1.   Prepare for success and maintain a positive outlook

If you look ahead at the negotiation from an unbiased point of view, what’s the likely outcome? Do you have your end goal clearly in mind when you begin the negotiation? Make sure you know where you can afford to back down and what you’re prepared to offer, trade, or give away in order to reach your target. It’s important to clarify these things before any negotiation begins with any business partners or external stakeholders who may have to make good on your bargaining points. It’s a good idea to form a strategy ahead of a negotiation, so you know exactly where you stand and how much power you hold.


2.   Make sure your opponent knows you’re trustworthy and reliable

It not only pays off in your first negotiation to prove that you’ll do as you say and you can be trusted to see your word through, it helps to build a lasting relationship with your opponent. Next time you need to open a negotiation with them, they’ll already know you’re trustworthy and would look out for their needs as well as yours. They may even refer or recommend you to other businesses as being reliable when it comes to discussing new contracts or making deals. Be genuine in your quest to complete the negotiation in a way that sees both of you come away successfully, and you’ll improve all your future work with that company opponent as well.


3.   Identify common ground to establish camaraderie

Thanks to all the preparation you’ve put into the negotiation goals already, you’ll have a good idea of any common ground your business shares with your opponent’s. Thus, you can structure your questions to show you appreciate your common ground and to build a relationship based on it, much as you would in your personal life. Once an easy-going camaraderie is established, it’s much easier to discuss your points without being held in suspicion. Your opponent is also more likely to listen to you, confident that you aren’t attempting to pull the wool over their eyes or work against them.


4.   Ask good questions and listen to the answers

In order to effectively negotiate, you need to know what it is that your opponent requires ultimately in order to leave feeling successful. By determining their end goal, you can begin to find ways of making it happen for them without detriment to your own target. Prepare a mix of closed and open questions in order to get a good feel for what it is that your opponent is asking for. Make sure to listen to everything they say, as an answer to a conflict of interest may be hidden within their words, and you might have something on the table to offer them to sweeten the deal.


5.   Think outside the box to find effective solutions

Even if you both believe that the end goal you want is shared, there could be another, more effective way to reach a successful outcome. Again, this comes down to being able to see the situation from the other’s perspective and think about what would best serve both companies and both end goals. Once you know these in as much detail as possible, you’ll be better able to come up with solutions that benefit everyone. For example, you both require the use of a particular parking space, but determine that they only need it from 10am – 4pm, whereas you need it from 3pm onwards. Then you can discuss the crossover period rather than ownership of the parking space for the entire day.


6.   Know your stance and be decisive

Once again, preparation is absolutely key here. Once you know where you stand and what your end goal for this negotiation is, you can afford to be decisive throughout the discussion. There’s no need to add stress or time to the negotiation by vacillating through decisions already made. So keep your notes handy, stay on top of the conversation, and be prepared to be firmly assertive on things you know you can’t back down on or on points you’re happy to agree to.


7.   Maintain a rational demeanour

The point of a negotiation is to calmly discuss each other’s needs in order to reach an agreement. Becoming overly emotional can cloud your judgement and confuse the situation unduly, so make sure to maintain a rational demeanour at all times. Stay calm and focused on your end goal, while also listening to your opponent and considering their view on the matter. You mustn’t undermine your preparation, hard work, and business by bringing anger or frustration to the discussion table. Practise techniques for calming the mind if necessary, or have a colleague on hand to suggest breaks every so often.


8.   Keep the positivity flowing with your language use

Stay positive and assertive throughout your discussions. Pausing, umming, and ahhing can earn you the appearance of not really knowing what you’re talking about. Resorting to strict, negative language such as “Don’t do this…” or “You can’t be serious…” will change the balance of power in the negotiation and put you in the position of a parent or boss, instead of an equal ally trying to find the best solution for everyone. Instead, choose positive language like “Have you tried it this way…” and “That won’t work for us, but what about this…”.


9.   Use open and approachable body language

In order to maximise the effect your reasonable words should be having on your opponent, make sure your body language reflects a relaxed and friendly persona. The point of the negotiation is for both parties to come away feeling like they succeeded in gaining what they wanted; it’s not an argument to see who backs down first. If things get heated, consider stepping away from the negotiation to take some deep breaths and calm down or rescheduling for another time.


10.   Patience is key to negotiation skills

In order to truly make your negotiation a success, it behoves you to be as patient as possible. By taking the time to clearly outline each and every part of the agreement, to go through exactly what each party is going to do, and to remunerate the expected results, you’re preparing the agreement for success. Rushing achieves nothing more than unexpected misunderstandings, bluffs, and damage to a future working relationship. It’s more than worth the time spent to properly put the effort in to begin with, than to repeat the process later on a more unstable discussion ground.