The Black Swan Group has a saying: It’s not a sin to not get the deal, but it is a sin to take a long time to not get the deal.
Next time you find yourself at the table, use these communication skills to close deals faster and enjoy better business outcomes.
1. Accusation Audit®
In every negotiation, there are elephants in the room. Your counterpart has suspicions preventing them from jumping into the deal headfirst, and you need to defuse those negative feelings if you want to make a deal.
The easiest way to do that is by launching into an Accusation Audit®, in which you proactively address the negative assumptions and impressions your counterpart likely has about your company and what you have to offer—whether they are true or not.
For example, if your company sells high-quality products at premium prices, you might say something like this: You’re probably thinking that our prices are absurdly high and our quality isn’t that much different than other solutions on the market. You might even think I’m crazy to try to get you to agree to this deal.
By proactively addressing these negative sentiments, you get out in front of them and clear them from your counterpart’s brain. This is an easy way to build rapport and trust. Once you’ve completed your audit, you’ll spend the rest of the conversation working collaboratively on a solution.
2. Active Listening
Far too many negotiators approach the table with preconceived notions about what the other side wants. For example, it’s not uncommon to enter a negotiation thinking that price will be a major issue in the deal. But sometimes, price isn’t a factor at all. Your counterpart might be interested in how quickly they can get their hands on the product or be impressed by your company’s reputation.
If you enter a negotiation with the wrong mindset and think you can read the other side’s mind, the deal may grind to a halt before you know it.
To close deals faster, make a conscious effort to not be so eager to make your ask. Instead, make the negotiation more about the other side first. Find out what’s important to them and what makes them tick.
To close deals faster, try to be less eager about making your ask. If you practice active listening and only state your case for roughly 20 percent of the conversation, your counterpart will feel valued and give you their undivided attention when it’s your turn to speak.
3. Calibrated Questions™
If you’re negotiating early in the morning, use Calibrated Questions™—questions that begin with what, how, and sometimes why— to extract more information from your counterpart and move your deal forward. (People’s brains tend to turn off in the afternoon; Labels™ and Mirrors™ are better skills to use toward the end of the day.)
You’ll get great responses when you use Calibrated Questions on Accommodators or Assertives. They will convey what’s on their minds, and you can quickly move the conversation where you want it to be. (Analysts like these questions the least, so lean on Labels and Mirrors instead.)
For example, you might ask: What happens if we can’t get this deal done today? This question will make them think about what will happen on their side if you can’t make a deal.
Remember: There’s a reason they’re sitting across the table from you. It could be because they have a need and you have a product that can meet it, or they might be doing their due diligence and you’re the fool—not the favorite.
Either way, Calibrated Questions will help you uncover the information you need to determine whether there’s a deal to be had or it’s time to walk away.
Continue to improve your communication skills and develop more confidence as a negotiator with our latest e-book, How to Build Self-Confidence and Close the Deal.