Developing negotiation skills

There is a lot of overlap between the skills you use for sales and those you use to negotiate. Both are art forms that also include specific techniques that can be employed to track, manage, and complete the transaction (otherwise known as “close” the sale). But neither is a science with exact steps and a “one size fits all” solution. Good negotiation skills provide a great foundation for developing good sales skills.

With both sales and negotiations, remember that you will improve with practice. Like the other skills in this book, sales and negotiation skills can be learned and practiced. Basic principles for good negotiations include:

  • Fostering a win-win attitude for all parties involved.
  • Asking GOOD questions and being a GREAT listener. Taking the time necessary to intelligently consider others.
  • Being flexible and looking for compromise solutions.
  • Recognizing the negotiation styles and techniques being employed by others.
  • Understanding the cultural issues at play. Organizational cultures and personal cultures (nationality or ethnicity-based) may play a role in negotiations.

You may have had the opportunity to practice your negotiation skills as you entered the job market. ink back to when you were first interviewing. You were the product that you were trying to sell. You did your best to sell your skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. You presented your resume and explained your past achievements. You demonstrated how you would be a valuable member of the team.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

Using sales and negotiation skills in your own career

There are many opportunities in your career to employ the same underlying skills used by the salesperson at the car dealer or the telemarketer who tries to convince you to switch television services. If you’ve convinced yourself that you are not in “sales,” how will you recognize these opportunities as just that—opportunities? Still not convinced? Take a look at the following lists and decide how many of these situations you’re likely to encounter over your career.

Sales

  • Selling your skills in a job interview.
  • Pitching your ideas to a client.
  • Selling your work product—making the case that your report/ presentation/analysis/design is better than your colleague’s.
  • Demonstrating your organization’s potential value to an angel investor.

Negotiations

  • Justifying a salary increase.
    Seeking an internal job change.
  • Convincing your manager that you deserve a promotion.
  • Persuading your boss that you’ve earned some additional vacation.
  • Requesting access to a training program or reimbursement for a part-time MBA.
  • Making the case for you to work flexible hours.

If you are not in a formal sales function, you probably have no training in negotiations or sales skills. It’s up to you to become familiar with the basics so that you can sell yourself, your work, and your ideas or to negotiate with managers, clients, and vendors.

This post was adapted from Carer-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

How does your role relate to sales in your organization?

Do you understand how your role relates to the sales function of your organization? Remember “sales” includes the delivery of goods or services. For example, if you work for a non-profit that runs sports camps for at-risk, inner-city youth, “sales” might include the programs at the camp. If you work for a national political campaign, “sales” may include a voter-registration drive or a town hall meeting.

Even if your job function doesn’t directly involve sales, when you are a part of any business organization that sells products or delivers services, it is important to have a high-level understanding of the sales function or the way your organization delivers it’s products or services. e sales function is the engine that drives every organization. Delivering products or services to customers, clients, and constituents is at the core of the mission for every company, government agency, school, or non-profit organization.

Sometimes even the smartest new professionals don’t realize that everything they do in the workplace is related to sales or the delivery of a service.  That service may include healthcare, government regulation, entertainment, or consulting. If you’re in a marketing role, you’re providing your sales team with the materials they need to sell or market a product. If you write for a print magazine, your stories help sell your magazine’s brand to advertisers.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career.