Do you often feel that even after you’ve said everything there is to say in a negotiation, the other party still doesn’t truly see the value in your proposal?
You may be saying too much and doing a poor job at Managing Information.
Expert negotiators know that in a conversation, very few things should be left to spontaneity. Excellent negotiation involves leveraging, protecting, and uncovering information skillfully, rather than waiting for a convenient moment to randomly appear.
In this article, we’ll get into the three core tenets of the Principle of Managing Information: Leveraging, Protecting, and Uncovering.
In a negotiation, it only makes sense to provide information that creates a competitive advantage for you. Doing so requires an intimate understanding of what competitive advantage means for you and the sorts of information that can lead you to these stronger positions.
For example, if your business has a strategic geographic position that allows it to deliver a product or solution much faster than any competition, this information should be leveraged to enable the other party to frame your value accordingly.
Information should be shared when it’s most advantageous to do so. So, using the example above, if the other party is concerned about extended wait times for delivery, this would be an excellent moment to leverage the fact that your business is the only business capable of servicing them due to your geographic position.
Just as critical as it is to leverage information at the best times, you must be Protect Information from being exposed at the wrong times. As a rule of thumb, do not share sensitive information such as price flexibility, internal deadlines, and free “extras” at the wrong time. The best negotiators have an uncanny ability to recognize the best times to communicate the right information, and a massive component of this skill is simply not sharing sensitive information at times where it could create a disadvantage for you.
For example, if you’re negotiating with a sushi restaurant that needs regular shipments of fresh fish, it would do you a huge disservice to reveal an internal deadlines or limitations like “if we don’t close this deal for 500 pounds of salmon, we’re going to have about a hundred pounds of fish go to waste, and we can’t afford that.”
You must be careful to not “dump” too much information on the table early on in within the negotiation process.
Prior to the negotiation, try to anticipate the most difficult questions the other party might ask, and prepare appropriate answers to respond more effectively. That way, you’ll have a better gauge on the flow of the conversation and be adequately prepared to reveal the right information at the right time.
Prepare ways to defer answering a disadvantageous question without resorting to lying or misleading; always operate within clear legal, contractual, and ethical boundaries. Doing so takes skill and preparation, but some expert negotiators are even able to flip disadvantageous questions into ones that ground the conversation in reality. For example, if the sushi restaurant is concerned about you being able to deliver fish within 24 hours of the order, you could respond by reiterating that the quality of your fish is the highest in the area and must be shipped as soon as possible to maintain that standard.
The final tenet of the Manage Information Principle is to Uncover Information.
Ask open questions to uncover what the customer needs to solve his/ her problem. Generally, it is more important to focus on getting information than on sharing information.
Expert negotiators ask nearly three times more questions and do one-third of the talking. By asking questions, you’re able to put the negotiation in your favor and give yourself a plethora of information to work to find out what is most important to the other party.
By Leveraging, Protecting, and Uncovering Information, you will be able to carry negotiations in your favor and get more of what you want. However, in order to truly master the Principle of Managing Information, you will need to do adequate planning to:
- Understand what is the most advantageous information to leverage.
- Anticipate the most difficult questions and prepare the best ways to answer them.
- Become aware of the best questions to ask that will help illuminate the negotiation for you.
RED BEAR continues to help sellers negotiate value-based, sustainable agreements within their own organizations and externally with customers. If you’re interested in growing your team’s negotiating skills to ensure better outcomes, click here for more information.