Tuesday, July 23, 2013

4 tips to sharpen your negotiation skills

Stuart McDaniels, Materials Manager

Whether we consciously think about it or not, negotiation is a way of life for all of us and probably something we each do on a daily basis in some form. Negotiation in our lives can take many shapes such as complex business decisions, purchasing an automobile or home, or even something simple like debating what's for dinner or what movie to watch with your significant other.

In my position at Trigard, I have many opportunities to sharpen my negotiation skills regularly as I am the primary relationship  for each outside manufacturing material supplier we are partnered with. Through the years, I have been able to apply a wide range of strategies to help our company in many ways while at the same time helping to strengthen our dealer partners and the network. We understand that at the end of the day, the benefits we receive through better negotiations can directly or indirectly affect your bottom line.

Here are a few tips that you may find helpful when faced with opportunities for negotiation:

  • Prepare - Proper planning prior to a negotiation is critical. Begin by understanding what your own position is as well as the other party's. A good negotiation is when both parties win. 
  • Steer the dialog - The party that frames the discussion generally has more control over how those issues are eventually resolved.
  • Time is your ally - Sometimes time can be a very powerful tool. Don't give in too quickly, particularly where time is not critical. Be patient, but also be sure to avoid a stall in discussions.
  • Walk out - Be willing to walk away. Literally. Never underestimate the power of getting up from the table. It conveys a clear message. In many cases the other party will call you back before you reach the door if they have any room to move. But, if they let you leave, there is nothing to stop you from turning around and sitting back down if you wish to continue.

Remember, ultimately you are trying to build a relationship, so never turn a negotiation into an "us vs. them" scenario. Always remain respectful, professional, and above all, honest. Stay cool and unemotional, especially in areas of disagreement. If you are successful in your negotiations chances are you will have to interact with the other party regularly. Those interactions will be much more pleasant and productive if the original negotiation remains amiable.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

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