Being a good negotiator means being actively involved in the sales process. If you’re not convinced of your product or simply lack determination, you might not be as successful as you think. A lack of curiosity could cause lower determination; but you’ve got to think about it, what could possibly make you less involved?
The answer is simple. Not listening. Many salespeople listen to talk, not to understand. This makes them less interested in the conversation they’re having and thus, less aware of their clients’ needs. If you cannot listen to understand, you cannot be a successful negotiator. First, you’ve got to learn how to become a skillful listener.
1. Be present
The first and most important rule in sales is being present. But what does that really mean? We hear about it in class, in meditation classes, in yoga courses, and even in sports. Being present means being aware of your environment, becoming deeply rooted in the moment. It means paying attention to the now and not overthinking the past or trying to guess the future. Being mindful means mentally imaging the conversation that you’re having – what does the speaker think of? How are they imagining their own stories? What do they need, what do they lack?
Being present is both about you and not about you. If you’re mindful, you can listen to yourself as well as others. You become active, engaged, and are no longer distracted by your own feelings. The best way to start being mindful is meditating. Yes, that’s right; starting a daily meditation practice will put you in that conscious state. It will help you succeed in business, even.
2. Make eye contact and face the speaker
Trying to convey a message when the other person is distracted is (for the most part) useless. If they’re not facing you or making eye contact, they’re not paying enough attention. If they don’t do that, they cannot be convinced to purchase or negotiate. They’ll most likely say no.
So, give your client or partner the courtesy of paying attention. Face them (that means staying away from your phone) and make sure you’re carefully following their story. If not anything else, they’ll respect you enough to do the same.
3. Actively listen to their words and picture their story
As I mentioned before, allow your mind to wander when you hear their story. Let it paint mental pictures of it – this will help you better understand your client. Focus on their message by remembering key phrases or words that stick out.
After listening actively to their message, it’s your turn to talk. Don’t try to plan out everything in advance. The simple act of listening should be enough to prepare your words. Your brain will do that automatically. You don’t need to worry anymore.
4. Don’t interrupt and don’t come up with a “quick fix”
If you tend to get too excited, you might want to intervene in their story. You must skip this part and stay focused on the message. Interrupting your client in the middle of their story is rude and should be avoided.
Also, trying to “fix” their problem will only make it worse. Your client will not feel listened to – and they’ve got a good reason for that. You just interrupted them to make a business proposal. You’re definitely not listening to understand, argues thesis writer Dana. You’re listening to talk and that won’t get you anywhere. So again, avoid quick fixes, proposals, or interventions while they’re talking. This brings me to my next point….
5. Wait for pauses
What you should do is wait for pauses. Active listening doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to talk at all. It means you’re talking when it’s your turn. Now that they’ve exposed their thoughts and emotions, you’re allowed to respond. Your first move should be asking questions to clarify concepts (and show interest). Your next move is listening to their answers; your last move is coming up with a new proposal or negotiation plan.
6. Ask questions to show an active interest
After they’re done talking, it’s your turn to ask questions. Make sure you make mental notes of your interventions while they’re talking. If you can’t remember the notes, write them down (and make sure your client knows that you’re taking notes of your conversation). In the end, ask questions to clarify important concepts. Maybe you’re not sure what they need yet, or maybe they’re not sure what you can bring to the table. Being actively involved in the conversation is crucial, from both sides; but you’re the expert here. You’re the model.
7. Feel what the speaker feels
Finally, try to feel what the speaker feels. Try to imagine what they’re going through when they’re exposing their needs or problems. If you were in their shoes, how would you fix it? This is a good way to practice your empathy and negotiation skills all at once.
Be respectful, empathic, and calm when showing up to your negotiation meeting. Prepare for that by meditating and being rooted in the present moment. Be present and open your mind up. Good luck!
Jake S. Platt is 31. He has a master’s degree in marketing and currently started his way as a content writer. Wrote his first story at age 15, now he brings his decades of experience to inspire people to explore the world.