For nearly two decades as an agent, I negotiated deals in the high-stakes, big-ego world of professional sports. After negotiating more than $500 million in contracts for my clients, I observed traits of some of the best – and worst – negotiators. I learned the common mistakes to avoid when negotiating, and what it takes to get even the toughest deals done. From that experience, I developed these top 10 Best Practices to Close the Deal.
- Negotiate in Person – Whenever possible, negotiate in person. You’ll pick up valuable insight by observing the person’s body language, facial expressions, and tone. Negotiation is about connection, and the best way to connect is in person!
- Timing is Everything – You know the expression, “timing is everything?” Well it’s true in negotiation too. You don’t want to ask too soon but you certainly don’t want to miss your window of opportunity either. If you are aren’t sure whether the timing is right, you can simply ask: “Are you ready to get this deal done?” If the answer is no, then ask when they will be ready.
- The Ask is Not the End, it’s the Start – Remember that when you make your ask, it’s not take it or leave it. If you’ve built a strong relationship, the ask is just the start. Negotiation is a back and forth conversation, not a demand to be made and immediately accepted or rejected.
- Be Aware of Your Body Language– A significant percentage of communication is non-verbal. That includes your facial expressions, gestures, eye contact and posture, and it also includes things like your appearance, timeliness, and how well prepared you are. What message are you sending the other person through your non-verbal communication?
- Practice a Confident Tone – So much of what we communicate isn’t through what we say, but how we say it. Is your tone loud or soft, fast or slow? Practice making your ask with a friend so you can get feedback. Keep practicing until you find the right tone that exudes confidence.
- Use Curiosity to Overcome Disconnects– How do you deal with the other side if you get pushback? Instead of getting defensive, get curious. Becoming curious allows the other side to feel like they are being heard. When you come up against a disconnect, stop talking and start listening.
- Dealing with Difficult (or Different) People– If you encounter someone who’s difficult to negotiate with, ask yourself: Are they difficult or are they just wired differently than me? Consider whether they might just be coming from a different perspective. The four most common perspectives are: financial, logistical, strategic, and relational. Can you identify which one(s) they value most, and adapt your communication style to close the gap?
- Embrace the Pause – Many people are uncomfortable with silence, but when you embrace the pause and wait for the other side to make the next move, it builds anticipation and helps provide clarity around where the conversation is going.
- Getting to Yes– If you feel like the deal has stalled, find ways to keep moving it forward. One of my favorite tactics to do this is to agree to smaller items that are easier to get a “yes.” Those smaller wins can be the momentum you need to close the deal. You might have to make the final ask multiple times.
- Know When to Walk Away– It’s going to happen. At some point, there is going to be a deal you just can’t close. But Game Changer negotiators ask for what they want while still maintaining the relationship. Don’t make the mistake that any deal is better than no deal.
Those are my top 10 tips for closing a deal! We share this approach to negotiating in my company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops. If you’d like to improve your negotiating skills, our Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops will teach you a simple and flexible framework that you can apply to any negotiation. Just visit http://gamechanger360.com to schedule a workshop today.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach businesspeople the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.