Sharpen The Saw – do negotiators need to?
Stephen R Covey famously identified “Sharpening the Saw” as one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Continuing to refresh and re-invest in one’s mental and physical attributes to improve your effectiveness. Do we do it enough, though? Probably not, especially when it comes to negotiating skills.
We’ve found a lot of sales people rely on their previous experiences and, perhaps, a training course they attended some years ago as the basis for negotiating with customers. Many of these programmes have been of high quality and the commercial teams have generally gained benefit from them. Unsurprisingly though, over time, a great deal of what was learned has been forgotten and many revert to habitual approaches which invariably concede deal value.
Many managers (and courses) focus on the transactional nature of competing for value (shared cake). Sometimes collaborative approaches to identify additional value are explored (bigger cake). However, typically insufficient focus is given to the three main “frames” which, in our experience, lead to the most successful outcomes. The first frame is the process; exploring the actual way a deal is going to be judged and by whom and when is often poorly tested. The second frame covers relationships – how strong or at risk are the range of relationships that will be required to get particularly complex deals over the line; and the third frame…has the negotiating team got the right mind-set in place to secure the best outcome…a machismo-led mind-set being as damaging as an overly generous one.
The best negotiators will be regularly reviewing the latest thinking, assessing negotiating frames, and critically practising their skills. Sharpening the Saw of your negotiating skills is always worth the time.
If you negotiate with customers and believe you need to “sharpen your saw” it’s worth having a chat about our Advance Negotiation programme. Drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07837 203952.
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