Like selling, I believe negotiations are a part of life. We negotiate all day, every day. And whether you notice it or not, you’re negotiating in almost every single interaction you have with another person.
Where should we go to dinner? – You’re negotiating to go where you want.
Do you know what happened to Jim? – You’re trying to get information out of someone.
Will you go on a date with me? – I think I’m a good mate for you.
Negotiations are centered around getting something you want. Or so many people mistakenly believe.
If you take a look again at the above questions, you’ll notice they rely on one very important factor: your relationship with the person you’re negotiating with.
Whether you’re going to dinner with your wife, gossiping with your friend or asking the cute girl down the hall out, your goal is to build or keep the rapport and relationship you’ve already built up.
Negotiations are not about taking without also giving. It’s a delicate balance of getting what you want without making the other person feel cheated.
In the sales profession, many people make the mistake of thinking, I want to win this negotiation or I hope I don’t lose this sale. This mindset is inherently flawed. The reason is because you can never “win” a negotiation.
The Truth About Negotiations
Negotiations are not about winning — or at least they shouldn’t be. Whether you’re participating in a business negotiation or a salary negotiation, the goal should not be to win.
It’s one thing to come to a negotiation prepared to make a deal. It’s another thing to come prepared to “win.”
What I want to do today is impart to you the idea that negotiations are never about winning. In fact, if you walk away from a negotiation thinking you “won,” then there is something seriously wrong with your mentality.
This is where the idea of a “win-win” comes from.
In most cases, you as a sales person win by getting a new account, at a profitable price, based on terms favorable for a lasting partnership. The customer wins by getting a great product or service, at a fair price, that fixes a problem they are experiencing in their business. The same goes for other situations, like trying to “win” a job with your dream employer.
I truly believe both parties should feel some version of winning when they walk away from a negotiation.
Why You Want To Stay Away From Winning
I know this idea goes against almost everything you are taught in business, sales training and life in general.
But when you really think about it, going for the win in a negotiation is not the right way to go about getting a sale. Winning can build resentment. And it makes future negotiations harder.
Like good vs. evil, winning implies that there is also a loser. This is not how you build a lasting relationship.
If you nickle and dime a prospect, what are the chances they will come to you first for their next purchase or add-on? Why would they give you any referrals? What makes you better than the pushy salesman who calls them everyday?
When you go for the win, you are simply telling them that you’re in this only for yourself. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
That is not how you keep customers or get someone on your side.
What you want to do is offer something up first. Give before you take. This helps build immediate trust, because when you give something up first, you’re putting skin in the game first. This shows that you’re committed to the relationship, it shows you have value to give and it shows that you’re serious about working together.
How To End A Negotiation
As the title of this post suggests, I believe that winning a negotiation is a horrible idea. However, in order for the world to turn, negotiations have to end at some point.
There are two things that are required to end a negotiation: the will to commit and the authority to do it.
In order to come out of a negotiation with a mutually beneficial next step, you need to know the very minimum you can walk away with. This has everything to do with going into the meeting with a plan.
Know what you’re able to give and know what you have to get. If you can get more, great. If you have to give more than you planned, so be it. The point is that when you start a relationship with someone, you want to start off on the right foot — with trust.
But knowing what you have to give is different then being able to give it. Authority, on both sides, needs to be present at a negotiation meeting in order for it to end. If you are offering something up, then you better be able to provide it when it comes time to sign the agreement.
What do you think? Is it possible to “win” a negotiation? Share in the comments with your thoughts!
This post originally appeared on the Sales Pro Blog.