When you think of a good negotiator, who usually comes to mind?
Someone who yells, who punches the table, who is very tough to negotiate, who does not open a smile or show emotion?
This is often the image we have of a good negotiator, often completely out of reality.
I have had the pleasure, over my years as a commercial, of working side by side with some of the best negotiators I have met.
Some have been mentors in my development as a commercial, others simply colleagues that I have followed occasionally.
Those that remain in my memory until now had the following characteristics that I give as an example of good negotiators:
- Friendly, soft tone of voice
- Calm and positive attitude
- Focus on the relationship and not just the sale
- Good listeners and excellent communicators
- Very attentive to body language
- Flexible, but very persistent
- They think about the whole package and not just the business they have ahead of them
- They leave nothing to chance, clarify all information and ensure that both parties use the same criteria
As you can see, a long way from the traditional image. In recent years the negotiation has evolved a lot. And more and more value is placed on behavioral flexibility than on harshness.
One of the strategies I found most funny when I once went to Brazil to deal with a vital business for the company where I was at the time was the “cry” technique, as they call it.
A buyer turned to me and said: “Look, man, I shouldn’t even show you this, but since you really are someone we want to work with, I’ll open the game for you. This is my internal margins table, see here, that’s all I really have to deal with you. Can’t you help me?”
Here we see that instead of adopting a hard and inflexible posture it appealed quite effectively to my emotional side.
As they say in my land, “you don’t catch flies with vinegar”.
Another interesting aspect that when it is well-used is very effective for the buyer is what I call “thinking of the whole package” above.
In a business relationship there are always two moments.
The moment of the initial purchase and the moment when after that we are already customers.
Traditionally, suppliers tend to be tougher on the first order, since on the agreed value can depend on everything else that the customer will buy.
Many times from the 1st purchase to the following purchases the customer is no longer in charge of the commercial and passes internally to another department that has the function of monitoring and managing the customer over time.
Many experienced buyers, knowing this phenomenon, use a strategy in which, in the first phase, i.e., 1st order, they do not tighten too much.
The order is usually smaller and, instead of pushing, they adopt a softer posture, i.e. moderate pressure for the supplier not to be surprised.
Only after this first order do they actually start to tighten progressively with each order.
Internally what happens is that as they are already “customers” there is a greater tendency to facilitate.
As this process is progressive, when we realize the conditions they have, been much more advantageous and were obtained with much less effort than if they had focused all the negotiating effort only on the 1st order.
As you can see, the reality of what is a good negotiator is a little distant from what you initially thought…
Also published on Medium.