Posts Tagged ‘Negotiation’

How to spot a liar during contract negotiations

February 24th, 2011

I was having a drink with a client the other day. We had just finished a contract negotiation with a major software supplier and my client, instead of being happy with what as a great result and a significant negotiated saving, was fuming that I had shown the vendor salesman to be a liar. While I won’t go into the details of what that salesman had erroneously said and done, I thought it worth blogging on the general subject of spotting a liar.

Lying to gain competitive advantage during a contract negotiation is not only unethical but it can seriously damage the relationships between both parties. 

Yet research suggests that in an average 10 minte business conversation, most people will lie 2.9 times. These lies can be as simple as exageration about status, position or authority, or promises that cannot be kept white lies such as ‘Ive got another meeting in 10 minutes” to facilitate a quick escape.

Understanding the structure of language can help us interpret what the speaker is saying. For example, “I think that’s great, but…” usually means “it isn’t great at all”. Another language trick is to use generalisation; this has the effect of deleting useful facts such as when, where, who, what and why. Liars tend to make frequent use of ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘nobody’, and ‘everyone’ which distances themselves from the lie.

Here are five tell-tale verbal signs to look out for:

  1. Circumlocution. Long-winded explanations with lots of digressions punctuated with ‘ums’ and ‘errs’.
  2. Outlining. Explanations painted with broad brushstrokes. The brian finds it difficult to remember fictitious details.
  3. Smokescreens. Answers/responses that are designed to confuse.
  4. Negatives. If someone says ” I did not do ….” then beware.
  5. Word choice. Liars make fewer references to themselves. ’I', me’, ‘mine’ are used less frequently.

And ofcourse, as well as watching what your supplier salespeople say you should also watch their body language which can give away a lot of non-verbal information. But that’s another story in itself….

Some more negotiation top tips

September 27th, 2010

It’s been a while since my last batch of top tips for negotiating better software deals. So here are a few more:

1/ Take your time. Don’t be rushed into any decision. A few extra days now to make sure things are right can save you months of wrangling later when things go wrong.

2/ Concede only slowly and in small increments.

3/ Trade off stuff; if I give you X will you give me Y.

4/It’s not just about the price; look for other value that might be worth more.

5/ Listen more effectively. Listen for nuggets and nuances; they all count.

6/ Communicate clearly and confirm everything in writing.

7/ Set the Agenda for every supplier meeting

8/ Know when to stop negotiating

9/ Never negotiate when you’re tired

10/ Enjoy it. Negotiating is fun!

Negotiating basics

February 21st, 2010

Continuing on from last week’s theme, we’ve had a few comments asking for some more negotiation Quick Tips. So here we go:

1/ Always separate the people from the problem

2/ Focus on interests not positions

3/ Generate options before you start, and then continue to generate new options as the negotiation develops

4/ Don’t be too rigid; aim to be flexible

5/ Be aware when the time requires assertiveness, or passivity, or manipulation or aggression

6/ Know what you want

7/ If you don’t ask, you don’t get

8/ Find out what they want

9/ Control the time; you decide what happens and when

10/ Ask Silver Bullet to coach and mentor you if you feel unsure about what to do or when

Remember; negotiation is fun, negotiation is good, and negotiation makes the world go round.

More ways to become a great negotiator

November 23rd, 2009

Never Accept the First Offer. Be Persistent. Support Your Argument with Facts. Identify Throwaway’s. Set Ground Rules. Control the Environment. Know Your Opponent’s BATNA. Look at the Big Picture. Be Thick Skinned. Improve Your Problem Solving Skills. Be Open-Minded. Be Decisive.  Don’t Mistake Wants for Needs. Learn from Your Mistakes. Don’t Leave the Table on a Sour Note. Know when to Bluff. Document the Agreement. Get Help from an External Negotiation Advisor if you are Not Familiar with the Supplier.

How to become a great negotiator

November 16th, 2009

Just Ask for What You Want. Don’t be Afraid to Take Risks. Thoroughly Prepare. Leave Your Ego at the Door. Listen Intently. Be Prepared for Surprises. Leverage Your BATNA (Best Alternative to No Agreement). Avoid Argument. Don’t be afraid to Walk Away. Clarify Expectations. Separate People from the Issues. Discover Your Opponent’s Motivation. Never Make a Concession without a Trade-Off. Be Bold. Role Play Negotiation Situations with Colleagues. Aim High. Be Organized. Ask an Expert Negotiator to be Your Mentor.

Using emails, letters and faxes to Negotiate

November 9th, 2009

There are many times when it is better to negotiate using an email, fax or letter.  Lawyers do it all the time.  Put your initial offer on paper and don’t let them see the smirk on your face.  Negotiation letters, emails and faxes can have the advantage of being cold and emotionless and they can mask your real emotions to your benefit.  Depending on your situation a little personal separation from the conflict could help turn the tides. Using letters, faxes or emails, allows you to have more time crafting your message.  If you are a naturally amiable person, then face to face negotiations may not be your strong suit. While using letters, faxes and emails to negotiate can be the right tactic, don’t use a letter when face to face would be better.  Letters should be used when they are an advantage, not to avoid conflict.  If avoiding conflict is your goal, take a look at why you are afraid. 

How to negotiate anything

April 27th, 2009

I was asked by a client this afternoon to give him some quick tips on negotiating the best deals. He has just taken on a new role which will mean he is negotiating face to face with IT suppliers for the first time. Previously, he had an IT Procurement person doing the negotiations for him, but his Company has made the Procurement person redundant as a cost saving measure. Now I’m not sure getting rid of IT Procurement people at this time is a cost saving measure; it’ll probably end up costing the Company more when they overpay for IT stuff in the future due to lack of IT Procurement skills in-house. But anyway, in answer to my client’s request for some quick tips, I said there are three main ways to get the best deals: No.1: Ask for a better deal. Don’t be shy; just ask. If that fails, then No.2: Ask again. And if that fails, then No.3: Ask again but ask louder this time. Now I know this is an awfully simple way to approach negotiations, but as a rule of thumb it’s a great way to get things started. And not just in IT but when ever you want to negotiate a better deal for anything ; new TV, car, house, pay rise, golfing weekend away, what ever. Ask, ask again, and then ask louder. Remember, you don’t get if you don’t ask.