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.

KNOW THE PLAYERS

Every organization is the sum total of its people. I cannot emphasize this enough. To know the people in your organization is to understand the organization. Know the players within your organization and your industry. These people will directly and in- directly influence your career. Study them. Connect with them. Learn from them.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness

WHAT ARE THE VALUES AND CULTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION?

Discovering the values and culture of an organization is more challenging than researching its history. Values and culture are difficult to pinpoint exactly. Time spent exploring this facet of organizational awareness is well worth it. The values and culture of an organization can impact your long-term satisfaction. You are likely to be more satisfied if your organization’s values and culture are compatible with your own.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness

What is your organization’s history?

Part of understanding your organization is to understand its his- tory, culture, and values. Researching the history of your organization is usually straightforward. Private organizations may have been covered by the print or online media, so look to those sources for historical information. Check public records for historical information about public companies with financial reporting requirements, government agencies, or other public entities. Research the organization itself and its leadership. e history of an organization is created every day, so pay particular attention to major events in the history of your organization such as a merger, buyout, bankruptcy, a scandal, legal action, natural disaster, or other major event (i.e., September 11, 2001). What impact, positive and negative, did the event have on the values and culture of the organization?

Look for trends, themes, and discrepancies between the organization’s history and its current operations. Is the organization maturing or is it stuck in the past? While the history of an organization is informative, it does not predict the future direction with 100 percent certainty.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness

Find a Mentor

As you get to know the people in your organization and industry, seek out a few mentors. You don’t have to formalize a mentor-mentee relationship for it to be beneficial. Look for people who have forged a path congruent with your own career goals. If your organization offers a formal mentoring pro- gram, be sure to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7: Organizational Awareness.

Everyone is in sales (Yes, EVERYONE!)

“Who is currently in or will be in a sales role for their company or organization?” is a question I often ask new professionals. A few people will indicate yes. But the percentage of those who recognize that at least part of their job involves sales is small. “I’m not in sales, so why do I need to learn how to sell and negotiate?” is a very common response.

I admit this is a bit of a trick question, but it is crucial to recognize that everyone is in sales. Your primary function may not be to sell products and services, but everyone needs to sell their ideas, their points of view, and their abilities. You are al- ways selling (or negotiating) something, no matter your role or job function.

Learn to recognize the opportunities when you employ these skills. Such times may be the greatest opportunities for career advancement.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

SOCIAL MEDIA AT WORK – TOP 10 TIPS

There are a lot of rules about the use of social media in the office. Some are formal rules while others are less formal, but no less important.

1. Keep messages professional—related to your work, your organization, or your industry.

2. Use casual language, but use proper English that is clear and concise.

3. Share news links, trends, and other relevant information.

4. Interact with colleagues, clients, customers, and followers.

5. Avoid slams and unprofessional language.

6. Post only appropriate photos and images. If you are not sure, don’t post.

7. AVOID USING ALL CAPS AND EMOTICONS. It can be an- noying and look unprofessional.

8. Understand the terms of use for each social media site you use for professional purposes.

9. Find examples from social media experts in your industry and learn from them.

10. Be cautious about sharing information that may be sensitive, confidential, embarrassing, or illegal. Again, if you’re not sure, don’t post.

 

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Reading List – Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations by Stephen M. Kosslyn

Why read this book? Kosslyn is a renowned cognitive neuroscientist and pro- fessor of psychology at Harvard University. This book provides eight simple principles for designing a presentation based upon the human perception, memory, and cognition. While rooted in science, this book provides practical advice. It includes hun- dreds of images and sample slides that illustrate the principles. If you use PowerPoint as a regular part of your job, you MUST read this book.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 5: Public Speaking & Presentation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.