Many people want to be better negotiators. They want to be better at having difficult conversations and obtaining better outcomes. It is often difficult to know where to start or what to improve. One thing that is incredibly important to consider that will improve your negotiation skills is spending time and energy getting into the world of the person you are negotiating with. In our Game Changer Negotiation Training, we call this 360 Awareness. This means spending time and energy learning what matters most to the person you are dealing with and understanding what gap you are trying to close for them.
What Matters Most to the Client?
When negotiating, people often become fixated on the outcomes of the transaction. I remember as an agent, one of my goals was to negotiate a record-setting deal that was big enough to make it on the ticker on ESPN. Our agency was often was focused on getting deals that would make our client the highest-paid person in their role or position.
However, when I negotiated for Turner’s Ernie Johnson I realized that my record-setting goal is not always what matters to my client. Ernie is an unbelievable man. He is a host of Inside the NBA and calls golf, and he is very good at what he does. The goal as an agent is to get him paid, and paid big. I wanted Ernie to be the highest-paid guy in his role. I was focused on the transaction and the outcome of the negotiation. This was not what mattered most to EJ, however.
Yes EJ wanted to be paid fairly, but there are other things that matter to him more. He cares more about his family, about his children, and being able to pour into them. EJ wanted to ensure he had opportunities to give back to his community and use his platform as a way to give, share, and lead. That is what mattered most to EJ, not the record-setting deal. That was not his driver.
Get in Their Head, Their Heart, and Their World
To practice 360 Awareness, it is important to get out of the transactional mindset and focus on the relationships you’re negotiating an outcome for.
For example, if you are negotiating a baseball player’s contract, you need to get inside all of the comps for the player. You also need to understand what is going on with the team that you are negotiating with and what options you have. Is he an arbitration guy? If he is a free agent, you need to know what is going on inside of the teams that you are looking at. What is their payroll and what does their minor league system looks like? What do the other 24 guys on their roster look like?
You need to spend time understanding the goal of the person for whom you are negotiating. You want to get in their head, their heart, and their world. One of the most common mistakes I see people make is that they spend all their time focused on what they want and what they do and not nearly enough time on what their client wants.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
I challenge you to think about ways to up-level your negotiation skills. I challenge you to up-level your ability to influence and create the kind of outcomes that you want. In order for us to influence, we have to build relationships. Spend more time working on the relationship and less time on the actual transaction and the outcome itself. Another way to think about it is to be relational instead of transactional in the conversations you have. Spend much more time in the head, in the heart, and in the world of the person, you are trying to do a deal with. Connecting with the person you are dealing with will ultimately amplify your results. Being relational and not transactional is a great place to start.
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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.