Preparation is important, but it’s not everything. You also need to understand how to work effectively during the heat of the moment when you are confronted with a skilled negotiator.
Specifically, you should understand the guidelines for effective negotiations and conduct your activities in accordance with them—listening for your customer’s interests, creating innovative win/win alternatives, and gaining commitment.
The negotiation will begin in earnest when your buyer presents a demand. The first demand is often an extreme one. At precisely this moment, many salespeople make a big mistake: they immediately react. As human beings, when someone pushes us, our knee-jerk response is to push back. When we push back, we react emotionally in some way. We either confront and “fight it out,” or we concede immediately in order to end the conflict. Either way, it is bad for us.
Salespeople need to change their attitude about a buyer’s initial demand. Don’t confront it, welcome it. Tom Crum, the author of The Magic of Conflict, says we need to change how we respond to confrontation. Crum uses the martial art of Aikido as a metaphor for handling conflict. The purpose of Aikido is to render an attack harmless without harming the attacker. This is the result you want from your sales negotiations.
In Aikido, you handle an attack by moving toward the source of the attack, not away from it. Think about it. A punch is relatively harmless if your face is two inches away from your attacker. Another example might be how you regain control of your car in a skid. You turn your wheels toward the skid, not away from it. You go with the energy, not against it.
When presented with an unrealistic demand in a sales negotiation, don’t dig in and fight. Instead, use indirect action, the opposite of what your buyer thinks you’ll do (and what you feel like doing). Accept their demand as a positive development.