Sometime ago a friend, client, and business partner of mine informed me that the VP of Finance at a company contacted him for advice. In their face-to-face meeting, this young gentleman, who was fresh out of college, humbly admitted that the company which used to generate about $25 million a year was quickly approaching Niagara Falls’ edge.
You see, unfortunately the company’s executives made some errors in judgment that apparently threatened to wipe the company out. In fact, by the time that initial meeting occurred, the company was over three quarters of million dollars in debt without any significant revenue. By the way, it was the only time I’d ever met men willing to admit they were in over their heads.
After my client presented his proposal to rectify their financial plight, I took over as the person that would lead the charge to turn the company around. The project was one of the most exhilarating professional experiences I’d ever had in my professional career. What made it so exciting is that it demanded that I tap into all my skills of influence, persuasion, NLP, and negotiation. In this post, I’ll focus on one of those skills that made it possible to bring that company back from the brink:
I love negotiating! I love it so much because my first negotiation’s mentor, Roger Dawson, taught me win-win negotiation strategies and tactics. A simplistic meaning of “win-win,” is both parties win or there’s no deal.
Throughout this project, I continually reinforced the belief that both parties could win when dealing with the client’s group of over a hundred vendors, creditors, and attorneys. Whomever I dealt with, each conversation began in a similar fashion. Once I had discussed my client’s factual circumstances, I would ask one simple question:
What do you want?
The answer to that question always provided a basis from which to begin the negotiations. More importantly, it immediately put the vendor, creditor, or attorney at ease because they realized my intention was to work with them in order to reach an agreeable outcome. In my opinion, if the person you’re negotiating with believes the opposite, your interaction will turn tense at best.
Therefore, in any negotiation, you must clearly communicate your desire to reach an agreeable outcome. One of the best ways to communicate that intention is by asking that one simple question, or variations of it. For example, you could ask…
A) If we had already reached an agreement that you were pleased with, what would it include?
B) From your perspective, what would a satisfactory agreement look like on paper?
C) Tell me what you’d want this agreement to consist of in order to resonate with what you’ve been thinking?
Easy enough, right?
Other than asking questions, keep in mind rapport is paramount to the success of your negotiations. Equally important is requesting permission to ask questions. Hopefully, you’ll simply trust that tidbit of advice is extremely valuable because I prefer not to write out testimonials to prove it to you.
However, I will close this post by revealing that the project I mentioned at the start ended successfully. How so? The company’s president went on to win contracts worth a minimum of $60 million dollars per year.
Generally speaking, win-win negotiators are empathetic. They seek to understand the other side’s position and they continually focus each conversation on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. And lastly, they maintain flexibility to reach those outcomes.
Negotiations can be easy with the proper mindset and training. I hope this post serves as a catalyst for many satisfying negotiations for you in the days ahead.
With your success in mind,