Negotiate to Your Advantage

The hardest and most important part of any negotiation is knowing when to walk away.

Few things are sweeter than a successful negotiation session where both parties leave the table with a winning solution. That’s because the stakes are high: Negotiate too hard and you lose the deal; be too timid and you may not get what you want.

The three most important concerns in any negotiation are the relationship, the risk, and the value–the real decision criteria underlying any future business transactions. So whether you’re negotiating a salary increase with your board or a contract with a vendor, before beginning the process it’s critical for you to cross three essential mental bridges:

1. Clarify the relationship. “What is the current real and perceived business and personal relationship, and what is its true value to my credit union’s future?” Far too often people hold on to the past not realizing that they need to let go to be free to reach out for something better.

Carefully consider what could be lost in this negotiation, but also what new doors may open should there be successful negotiation. Too many business leaders continue with existing relationships beyond their prime simply because it’s easier and more comfortable than striking out to develop a new relationship that better suits their organization’s future.

2. Clearly structure the outcome both parties desire. Very often, people enter a negotiation with the drive to win, but they never commit to paper beforehand precisely what that means. Yes, they have a general idea (to place the contract at the best price or cost); however, they haven’t defined the optimal combination of price/cost and all other terms that reflect both parties’ best long-term interests.

Identify what it will take for all parties to believe they’ve been treated fairly. Outlining what each party should view as a “great deal” often leads to the optimum win-win agreement. After all, negotiating is merely a more formalized variation of common marketplace bartering. It’s all about give and take and each party’s perceptions of value. You offer. They counter. You respond. And so it goes.

3. Determine your walk-away point. The hardest and most important part of any negotiation is knowing when to walk away. Decide when you’ll walk away from the deal before the negotiation process, because it’s difficult to identify it in the heat of the negotiation.

It’s important to approach your walk away point calmly, as negotiators truly need to understand what each side requires to make it a “great win-win” agreement. Then, if the other side becomes unreasonable and prevents your desired outcome from happening, weigh the predetermined value you placed on the relationship as well as ask the question, “Do we really have a mutual relationship or merely one party taking undue advantage of the other?”

Once you’ve laid out the previous three steps you can begin negotiation, realizing that at times the process requires the patience and confidence to be still. For example, if the other party precipitates a long silence then wait, say nothing, and let the other party break the silence.

While it’s important to hold out firmly for your high priority/risk issues, holding out for a lost cause isn’t in your best interest. Know when to give in on a point. If it’s not a walk away issue, then concede and negotiate onward.
Most important, realize when you’re approaching the walk away point. That will help you try and steer the negotiations away from falling unnecessarily into a downward spiral, where relationships deteriorate and from which it’s often impossible to recover.

Copyright 2005 by John Di Frances.

A Sales Presentation is Like Fishing

You are invited to speak on the new product your company just launched. You deliver a killer presentation. You receive questions from your audience. You get a standing ovation. Then nothing happens. You didn’t get a lead. You didn’t get a referral.

When you speak at a professional or trade conference you have the opportunity to build brand awareness, expand the database, get a referral, attract another client, or close a sale. However these opportunities often vanish like vapor from a fog, and when the fog clears you walk away thinking you aren’t a very good presenter after all. This is a false assumption and an unfair judgment about your own abilities.

If you aren’t getting the results you hoped for it’s not because you aren’t a good presenter. You aren’t getting the desired results because you haven’t learned how to distinguish a hope from an intention.

You hope you will get interest. You hope to brand your company. You hope to build your database, attract a new client and close a sale. These are your hopes. Unconsciously you have another agenda, your secret intentions. You intend to impress the audience with your knowledge. You intend to get a standing ovation so you can feel warm and fuzzy and tell your friends how you “nailed the presentation.” You intend to re-live your war stories about the difficult product launch, how you worked with no sleep and how you emerged the hero.

How do I know? I know because I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve watched people just like you, therefore I know how to identify the red flags. Let me explain.

When you invited your audience to ask questions, (whether that audience is one or one thousand) you missed the buying signal and instead blathered on about “back stage” stuff.
What is back-stage stuff you ask? Back stage talk is when you start speaking about what is behind the curtain instead of focusing on the performance.You have forgotten you have an audience and the conversation has reverted to your favorite topic–you.You talk about your dream, your company’s history, your great website, your struggles to get the product launched, your process for delivering the product and everything else except solving the customer’s problem.

Come to think of it, giving a good sales presentation is a lot like fishing.The problem happens when you become the fish instead of the fisherman. With a single question your prospect baits the hook, casts the line and you swallow the bait, hook, line and sinker. Without noticing you just got reeled in with your potential customer’s question. You forgot that you are the fisherman, not the fish.

Don’t feel bad. There is a way to become a better fisherman. Here are some steps so that you don’t take the bait.

1. Get clear on the outcome you desire.

2. Transition, answer briefly then redirect the question.

3. Listen to uncover problems.

4. Step up to the next level.

Here’s an example of how it works.

Step one: you become clear that you want to attract new customers. Now that you know your intention, you have to match your actions. This means you stay focused on solving a problem rather than sharing back-stage information and overwhelming to your customer. All your customer cares about is how he benefits from your product.

Step two: when you open for questions, you must recognize the bait. A customer’s question is your opportunity to transition, briefly answer, then redirect the question back to her.For example, your customer asks, “So tell me how you came up with the idea for this product?” You recognize your initial tendency to want to give a dissertation and instead you use the redirect. You transition, “I’m so glad you asked, then you answer briefly, “We noticed customers having problems with….” then you redirect by asking, “what kinds of problems do you currently face?”

When you redirect, it means you have cast the line and it’s your turn to listen and take notes. After your prospect has finished talking, your presentation at this point needs to be directed toward the next step in the sales process.That may mean an appointment, another presentation, a trial offer, a demonstration or signing the dotted line. Happy fishing.

Presentation Skills – 5 Must Read Tips For New Presenters!

Ok, you have done the preparation, planning and practice so your presentation (or training session) should be fantastic, fun and fulfilling right? Maybe, but chances are you have not thought long and hard enough about managing the audience for results. Here are five tips you should read before presenting for the first time.

1. Focus on the audience

‘All about me’ is not going to invigorate your audience. Spend time understanding each of the audience members, asking them questions and getting to know their needs and motivations. Do not underestimate this step. This can make all the difference to how you present your information and how the audience responds.

2. Avoid speaking to fast

A common mistake when presenting is speaking to fast. This is often a result of presenters worrying that they will bore the audience. The problem is that the audience take time to digest new information. It might be easy to you; after all it is your area of specialty right? You have been doing it for years. Do yourself and the audience a favour and slow down, pause and allow them time to take on the new information. You will be surprised at the results.

3. Engage the audience

Get them involved. The techniques for this are endless. The basics include, asking them questions, doing activities, group work, using visuals, stories, quotes and humour to help keep their interest. Their understanding will greatly increase using this method so get creative!

4. Show enthusiasm

Is the audience bored, sending text messages or checking their watch? Perhaps you are not showing enthusiasm for a subject. If you are passionate about a subject (even if it is the hundredth time you have delivered the presentation, your voice tone will vary as you speak. This will make a world of difference. If you do not do it now, get practicing. Fake it if you have to! Your audience will be forever grateful.

5. Know the material

The best way to increase your confidence and ability to focus on the audience throughout a presentation is to know your material and your presentation inside out. Once you do this, the focus is back on the audience. See step 1.

Follow these tips and you will be five steps closer to a good presentation. It should be noted that these tips work very well for group training sessions as well. Good luck!