Negotiation tips: How to boost sales and avoid common negotiation mistakes

Written by David Freedman

A study from Huthwaite International, specialists in sales and negotiation, has revealed the five most common negotiation mistakes negotiators make that can risk both parties walking away from the table dissatisfied, unhappy, and in some cases, without any negotiation success.

From failing to do substantial research, to becoming irritating and making too many counter proposals, David Freedman, Director of Sales at Huthwaite International, examines the root causes of bad negotiation, and what you need to do to strike the ultimate deal.

Most people have a good understanding of what they need to do to bring in a good quality deal, however, in practice, buyers are making frequent errors that unwittingly see them lose profit. It’s simple, yet many of our negotiation habits actually work against us. This can be costly, especially where multi-million-pound budgets and staggeringly complex projects are commonplace.

Here’s a rundown of the top negotiation mistakes that are being made time and time again when striking a deal, as well as some negotiation tips around how to avoid these common pitfalls.

Negotiation mistakes to avoid [+ negotiation tips]

Information isn’t used properly

This age-old saying is still very relevant. Most negotiators spend time preparing facts, figures and financial goals but fail to plan how they will use this information when it comes to making a verbal agreement. You’re only as good as the preparation you put in.

Tip #1: Prepare to fail, fail to prepare

Consider how you can utilise the information and research you’ve gathered to your advantage. Map out your negotiations – spend time considering how you will control the climate, shift the power into your favour, the role you’ll adopt and what you ultimately want to achieve from the meeting.

Lack of clarity

The role of emotion varies in negotiations. Some negotiators avoid emotive language, feeling it isn’t appropriate to express their emotions when it comes to striking a deal. This can lead to ambiguity and a lack of clarity.

Tip #2: Avoid the poker face

Be clear. If you’re disappointed with an offer, say so. Likewise, if you’re pleased with how the negotiations are moving, don’t be afraid to express this. Sharing your feelings in these scenarios is powerful verbal behaviour as nobody can refute your feelings, and it can create a more cooperative environment to strike a deal that benefits your needs.

Discover why negotiation performance is the key to long-term business growth  Download our whitepaper to learn;   *  How to measure negotiation success   *  How to benchmark and improve your negotiation processes


Reliance on counter-proposals

Our research shows that successful negotiators only make half the number of counter proposals than most. However, many are still falling into this trap, even among the most experienced.

Tip #3: Be flexible

Negotiating is about listening and understanding the needs of the other party, whilst maintaining a strong stance.

By immediately counter-offering, it shows that you’re not listening to the other party – which is an immediate turn-off. This means they are less likely to be flexible when it comes to striking that all-important deal.

Don’t demonstrate irritating behaviours

There are a number of behaviours that work to immediately irritate the opposing party, from self-praising declarations, such as using the words ‘fair’, ‘reasonable’ and other presumptuous behaviour, to telling someone you’re ‘being honest with them’, indicating you may not have been before.

Tip #4: Choose your words carefully

Steer clear of this use of language, it can be damaging to the relationship you are building and may put your counterparty on the defensive.

Don’t talk for talking’s sake

Perhaps the biggest and most important hurdle to overcome is to sit back and listen.

Negotiating is a two-way process. Oftentimes, a meeting can be taken over by one party.

Tip #5: Take a moment to think

Digest the information you’re receiving properly and take time to really understand the other party's position. This will provide you with an opportunity to explore the other party’s underlying objectives. You can also use this to build incisive questions that may create doubt in their minds about their position – doubt leads to movement, and movement is what you’re trying to create as a negotiator.

Discover why negotiation performance is the key to long-term business growth  Download our whitepaper to learn;   *  How to measure negotiation success   *  How to benchmark and improve your negotiation processes 

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