Who is the best negotiator I have met?
Someone with half my experience and 9 years younger.
His name was Sam.
Sam came into calls with procurement and execs super prepared.
He had a list called, “Investment Discussion Key Points.”
He had a floor and a ceiling in mind and knew his talk track.
It didn’t matter what procurement or execs threw at him.
He once texted a CEO, “Deal is over then, price is the price” and continued acting like it was another Tuesday happy hour while his $400k deal was hanging by a thread.
That’s a mindset difference.
Anyway, that list had 5 key levers he’d convey to procurement.
He’d start in, “The price is the price, occasionally finance can tweak it if there’s some concessions on your side.”
He’d explain each one of the following…
-Timing of cash payments
-Length of commitment
-Timing of agreement
-Referenceable customer / case study
Procurement played by his rules as he set the tone early.
Strategic advisors were always part of the negotiation on his side and were fully informed of the opportunity.
His talk track was 3 parts...
-A summary of the GAP his solution solved for.
-The business justification case which tied his solution to one of their strategic initiatives.
-The costs of doing nothing.
A true elite seller.
People want to be understood and accepted. 2 primal urges: ○ Need to feel safe & secure Need to feel in control
Listen intensely → demonstrate empathy + show a sincere desire to better understand what the other side is experiencing
● Goal: reveal surprises in the negotiation
● Hypotheses vs. assumptions: Use negotiation to test hypotheses
● Uncover as much information as possible (not battle of arguments)
● Uncover what counterpart actually needs (money, emotional, otherwise) → get them feeling safe to talk more
● Sole focus: the other person and what they have to say
● Slow. It. Down
● Three voices:
○ Late-night DJ voice: Use selectively to make a point. Inflect voice downward. Calm and slow. Creates aura of trustworthiness without triggering defensiveness
○ Positive & playful: Default voice. Voice of easygoing & good natured person. Relax & smile while talking
○ Direct / Assertive: Used rarely
● Repeat the last (or critical) 3 words of what someone else has said
● Insinuates similarity which facilitates bonding
● Connectors because they help your counterpart connect thoughts
Use Late Night FM DJ Voice
Start sentences with I’m sorry...
● Imagine myself in the counterpart’s situation
● Recognize their perspective and vocalize that recognition
● Understand counterpart’s feelings & hear what is behind those feelings
● Bring my attention to the emotional obstacles to getting an agreement done
● Look at words, tone, and body language. Spot changes and look for incongruence
● It seems like .
● It sounds like .
● It looks like .
Neutralize the Negative
● List the worst things my counterpart can say about me first
● Use labels to reinforce & encourage positive perceptions
● Remove I understand from your vocabulary. Never use it
● Validate someone’s emotion by acknowledging it
● Pause to let the label sink in. Other party will fill in the silence
● Every 4th verbalization should be a label
● Focus first on clearing the barriers to an agreement
● Label fears to diffuse their power
1. Observe without reaction & judgement 2. Label each negative feeling 3. Replace with a positive, compassionate & solution-based thought