The Art of Negotiation and Persuasion

The Art of Negotiation and Persuasion

​There are some key principles in effective persuasion and negotiation and for anyone in a customer facing role : marketing, sales, business development, customer service, senior management, leadership : it is vital to understand the perspective of the other person.

Authenticity is the most important thing to consider before you begin to replicate the behaviours of successful others. Being authentic means taking a long hard look at yourself and being honest about your strengths and weaknesses. The old saying ‘play to your strengths’ was created for just this purpose. I learnt a lot about this from listening to the feedback of others and more recently by the science of fascination that profiles what it is about yourself that others find most interesting. FASCINATION ADVANTAGE® REPORT demonstrates how the world sees you and of course if you can consistently and honestly demonstrate these things then by definition you will be more appealing to the person you are negotiating with or persuading.

Once you understand yourself you can begin to emulate successful others who are already top tier negotiators and persuaders.

Reciprocity - You get what you give. It has always been this way because people feel obligated to return favours that are given to them. There are many theories around this element of human behaviour and the most common saying is probably ‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’. I would add to this the fact that you are both seeking a mutually beneficial outcome so the phrase could be reinvented as ‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself so that you help each other reach a mutually beneficial result’. Your action - think about a win-win in all of your interactions.

Scarcity - If something is less easy to access or simply there is less of it, then human nature dictates it becomes more desirable. In marketing terms we might call this our USP; our unique selling proposition which is the key thing you can only get from me. Your action - what is it about engaging with you that the other person can’t get from anyone else.

Authority - Since the dawn of time, people have always looked up to experts to lead them. Knowing and demonstrating knowledge, insight and wisdom on a particular subject can give you authority. This is different to telling someone what to do. It is more about leadership and sharing wisdom than it is preaching and telling. Your action - what do you know now that you could learn more about so that you become expert and invaluable to others.

Liking - Price, product, place, promotion, all those elements of the marketing mix have no bearing on a sales negotiation if the other person doesn’t like the individual. Authenticity comes into play here because most people can see through fake others and so finding mutual interests, sharing amusing story telling and being genuinely interested in the other person all feed into the mirror effect that helps others to like us. Your action - listen, really listen to people you communicate with and find common ground from which you can build you conversations.

Consistency - We all like a maverick who stands out and entertains us, but in the art of negotiation and persuasion this kind of behaviour is at the other end of the scale to a consistent, predictable and reliable behaviour that allows the other person to steadily form their impressions and build trust. If you constantly change the terms of engagement you are beginning your conversation for the first time each time and eventually the other person will lose patience and switch off. Your action - Decide on the most important elements in your negotiation (benefits, price, people, whatever it might be) and keep them consistent whilst you discuss less vital ingredients.

Social Advocacy - In negotiation and persuasion we are always seeking to develop mutual faith and trust. Assuming you still want to engage with the other person your final tool in the armoury is to use your previous contacts, peers, colleagues, customers and others to advocate you on your behalf. Whist the other person would probably expect you to paint yourself in a good light, if others are also saying these things about you, then you are far more likely to be believed. Your action - Develop a suite of testimonials, references and case studies that you can share and if they are from people just like the person you are negotiation with or persuading, then so much the better.

And remember, the most important ingredient in the art of negotiation and persuasion is to always be yourself. If you force it you fail. Be authentic, listen and care, and everyone is a winner.