How do you succeed in negotiations? In your sales career, strong negotiating often comes down to how others perceive you. Presenting a strong, self-assured confidence can go a long way towards improving your bargaining power. You can’t control the other person or their role in this negotiation, but you can control what you bring to the table. Here’s how you can make your presence strong in negotiations.
Confidence is key, but it’s hard to feel confident if you haven’t properly prepared. Before any negotiation, it’s vital that you do your homework ahead of time. Research everything you need to know about the topic of discussion. Whether this is a sales pitch or you’re negotiating within your internal team, you’ll need data and examples to back up what you’re saying.
What are the latest facts and figures that your clients should know about? Can you specify any examples of the ways your product or service has impacted a customer’s life or business? Collect all relevant information so you can use that during the negotiation.
On top of concrete data and examples, you also need to know what it is you want. All negotiations start with two individuals or groups who have an idea of what they want. Most likely it won’t be exactly the same, and you’ll both work towards something that is satisfactory to both. But before that can begin, you must have a clear idea of your goal. Know what you’re willing to compromise on, what your lowest number is, and when to walk away without a deal.
Be prepared to address any rebuttal from the other person or group. What arguments might they have? What tough questions might they ask? Know what to expect and how you’ll respond so you aren’t caught off guard. If you’re prepared for everything, you’ll feel confident going into the negotiation.
Speak with Confidence
Beyond preparation, confidence comes from how you communicate and carry yourself. Verbal and nonverbal communication are the clearest indicators of your strength and assurance, so use both to your advantage in presenting yourself.
How you talk and what you say both matter. One of the biggest indicators of nervousness or immaturity is frequent use of filler words. Don’t say “um” or “like” too much, because it lessens the impact of the what you’re saying. Try to be clear and concise when you talk. Get to the point – no need to go into excessive detail or start rambling about inconsequential things – but explain that clearly. There’s a fine line between talking too much and not saying enough. Say as much as you need to, and then let the others respond.
In written pieces, it’s often advised to use active voice rather than passive voice. This advice also extends to spoken communication. Use active voice and descriptive verbs. This has the added of bonus of framing things as accomplishments you made rather than benefits that simply happened while you were there. Which sounds more powerful?
“Sales were increased by 18% last quarter in my department.”
“My leadership and initiatives delivered an 18% sales increase last quarter.”
Simply by using an active voice, that second statement puts you front and center as the subject rather than the object. You did something; it didn’t just happen to you.
Prepare to Speak
Many people get nervous or flustered when they have to talk to people. Public speaking is a common phobia, but even in smaller settings, negotiations can be scary. It’s hard to communicate well when you’re so anxious you forget what you’d wanted to say.
Ease your nerves by preparing ahead of time. This isn’t just knowing your data and how to address their arguments. You should also practice saying your piece. Run through it a few times in front of the mirror, with a friend, or even with your pet. Just saying the words out loud a few times will help them flow more naturally during the actual meeting.
Look the Part
In addition to strong language, it’s also important to look the part. Some 55% of people’s impression of you comes from nonverbal cues, so be mindful of your body language. Do you tend to hunch over? Do you have trouble looking people in the eye? These are things that can make you seem meek or uncertain.
Instead, work on portraying yourself more powerfully. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Face people directly during conversations. Look people in the eye while talking with them. Even the way you dress matters. Wear clothing that is clean, fits you well, and that you’re comfortable in. It should fit the dress norm of the group you’re with – try not to be underdressed – but make sure you feel natural wearing it. If you’re comfortable in how you look, people will view you as more confident.
These are all things that communicate your confidence, and they’ll go a long way towards your negotiating success.
Here’s another trick for communicating strength: be optimistic. Believe it or not, simply having a good attitude and looking on the bright side can be instrumental in improving not only how others perceive you, but also how the negotiation works out. If you have a sunny disposition, people tend to be more receptive to your ideas and proposals. You don’t have to smile so much that your cheeks hurt, but do try to be pleasant and upbeat.
Optimism and expecting the best can go a long way towards your own sense of confidence going into the meeting. And remember: You can be pleasant even as you express confidence and assert yourself. They don’t cancel each other out.
Ask and You Shall Receive
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask. Remember: if you don’t ask, you won’t get. Know what you want before you go into the meeting, but don’t let that be the first thing you ask for. Instead, aim a little higher. Ask for better than you expect to get. Then, the negotiation can go one of two ways.
First, you could actually achieve a much higher number than your original objective. It’s always nice to get more than you anticipated. That would be a huge win!
Second, and usually more likely, is the negotiation will begin once you name your too-high price. Over the course of the discussion, you will likely reach a compromise closer to what you originally wanted. That’s still a win!
Be confident when you make your ask. You deserve this. You earned this. Remember all the preparation you did beforehand, all the ways you’ve shown how strong and confident you are. They surely noticed, and that will work in your favor.
Even if the negotiation ends with something lower than you’d anticipated, know that this was a valuable learning experience. You did your best, and you’ll be ready with more tools next time.
Making Your Presence Strong
By following these simple rules of thumb, you’ll be on track to make a great impression on those around you. Your confidence will shine through what you say and how you carry yourself, and it will give you a power boost throughout the sales negotiation. All of your preparation and practice gave you the assurance you needed to go into the meeting with strength.
These tips will help you in sales negotiations, but they’ll also help you in myriad other aspects of your life. You have control over how other perceive you, and that gives you power. You know how to make your presence strong. Now go forth and show them what you’ve got.
Petite2Queen provides virtual mentoring to young women in life, at work, and in sales. Follow us for more practical advice you can put to use to improve your life and career.
Amanda Whitbeck is Vice President of Operations at Petite2Queen. Since earning her master’s degree in Global Entertainment & Music Business from Berklee College of Music, Amanda has played key roles facilitating growth at start-ups. She’s also worked in diverse sectors of the music industry, from live events promotion to entertainment journalism. She brings her expertise in music business, writing, and website development to Petite2Queen.