Negotiation skills are often seen as an art — an intrinsic talent that some people have and others don’t. But at Bitrix24, we’re here to bust that myth. Successful deal-closing skills are ultimately what helps a company grow, and the good news is that they can be taught relatively easily.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at 11 essential skills that the best deal-makers possess, including classic personal qualities but also some of the more technical behind-the-scenes preparation. So, if you want to boost your negotiation skills and convert those clients, let’s get to it.
Effective negotiation skills enable individuals to navigate through discussions, strategically advocate for their position, find common ground, and ultimately establish agreements that can lead to successfully closing deals.
Negotiation skills can be developed through targeted training programs, practice, role-playing, learning from experienced negotiators, and actively participating in real-life negotiation situations.
Confidence is pivotal in negotiations as it demonstrates assurance and capability, which can influence the opposing party’s perception and responses. Building confidence involves preparation, knowledge, practice, and understanding your negotiation points and boundaries.
Empathy in negotiations is a fundamental tool for understanding the emotions and perspectives of the other party. It fosters trust, promotes better communication, and can lead to more collaborative and successful deals.
Way before you’re face-to-face (or camera-to-camera) with clients, you’ve got to identify exactly what you want to achieve from the meeting. With these goals in mind, you can put into practice the first in our list of negotiation skills: Assertiveness.
Assertiveness is a combination of confidence and respect. You know what you want, you know where your boundaries are, and you feel comfortable expressing that. An assertive negotiator will lay out their stall clearly and concisely without beating around the bush or over-explaining their position. That early confidence sets the tone for the entire negotiation.
But far from being a single-minded and aggressive approach, assertiveness also involves listening to your client’s concerns or opinions. You don’t have to agree with them, but acknowledging them and explaining why or why not you will incorporate them into your work is essential for trust building.
You always stand the best chance of succeeding in a negotiation when you can fully understand your client’s position, known commonly as empathy. Like training a muscle, you can improve your empathy skills through a blend of prior research and practicing real-time reactions during the negotiation.
Customer analysis helps you understand the needs and motivations of your client. By putting yourself in your client’s shoes, you can relate to them on a more human level and tailor your negotiation strategies to focus on their specific pain points. Similarly, knowing your client inside out allows you to problem-solve together rather than brushing aside their valid concerns.
In the heat of the moment, those with the best negotiating skills will know that disagreements that flare up aren’t to be taken personally. Maintaining respect and courtesy throughout the negotiation are signs of a natural empath who knows that conflict often arises for external reasons. Your client could be facing pressure from superiors or budgetary concerns, so avoid getting sucked into unproductive conversations that distract from your main objectives.
While empathy is great for digesting your client’s concerns, at a certain point, you’re going to have to focus on driving the negotiation to where you want it. This is where persuasive negotiation skills come in.
One of the most well-known business negotiation strategies is a masterclass in persuasion: Highlighting the benefits rather than the features. By tailoring your pitch to how your product will help your client rather than simply what it does, you cut out a major chunk of mental processing. Put simply, your negotiation isn’t a test of deductive reasoning. You want to make the specific benefits crystal clear to inspire an emotional reaction in your client.
Other techniques to close deals through persuasion include:
Storytelling: Humans can really identify with stories, and they’re perfect for inspiring an emotive response.
Ratings and reviews: In a world where customers are suspicious of self-promotion, using real-life examples of happy customers is a great persuasion technique.
Reciprocity: A mix of persuasion and bargaining techniques, offering concessions or incentives can create a sense of obligation and reciprocity.
There is a vast array of negotiation tips that can put you in the driving seat of almost any discussion. Knowing what they are and when it’s right to switch from one to the other to keep a deal alive is essential. Among the most effective techniques are:
The win-win strategy. When both parties benefit, you not only seal the deal for the day, but you foster trust and long-term relationships.
Divide and conquer. Complex, expensive deals can be difficult to sell if your client can’t grasp the entire concept. Chop it up into manageable steps and you’ll stand a much better chance.
Offering space to speak. You can learn a lot when you stay quiet and allow your clients to speak, then use your new information to close deals.
Concession management. With your goals prioritized, you can plan when and how to sacrifice less-important objectives as part of your sales negotiation.
When you’ve memorized and honed these negotiating tactics, you can react in real time to your client’s tactics to stay on the front foot.
With your pitch, business negotiation strategies, and a healthy dose of adrenaline in your mind, it’s easy to forget that each meeting is a two-way street. Experienced, successful sales agents learn how to remain calm and pick up on clues and body language from their clients, and there are a few tricks you can use to make active listening one of your key negotiation skills.
Part of your active listening tactic is good preparation. Arrive on time with your research done and you’ll already be on the front foot. Once the conversation is underway, avoid interrupting your client mid-sentence and if you’re unsure, ask clarifying questions to get a full picture.
As you’re paying attention to what your client is saying, make sure to also listen for emotions that can often reveal more than the words themselves. At the end of the negotiation, summarize the progress to get on the same page and offer an opportunity for more detail.
Active listening is one of the most successful negotiation tips we can offer, as it allows you to reveal hidden opportunities, address all of your client’s concerns, and build trust that can help to close more deals.
When we think about negotiation skills, the focus is almost always on those person-to-person abilities. However, knowing how to use software can improve your sales negotiation and allow you to take on more work without running into problems.
Customer relationship management systems are invaluable for sales teams. You can save and track all your client interactions and get a 360-degree view of your client before going into the negotiation.
Data analytics can help you predict client behavior, anticipate their needs, and analyze your own performance.
Communication tools are crucial for setting up negotiations, carrying them out, and following up afterward — so make yourself familiar with your emails, phone, and video calls at the very least.
Project management software allows you to set up standardized workflows that cover every aspect of the negotiation and put much of your agents’ work on autopilot.
Automations take things one step further by taking over low-value, repetitive tasks from your workflows and allowing your team to focus on tasks that need a human touch.
By integrating technology into your negotiating tactics, you can work far more efficiently, gain insights, and show a professional face to your clients.
Although you might be fighting for a one-and-done deal, negotiations should never be viewed as isolated transactions. Any opportunity you have to connect with another client or build your reputation through word-of-mouth is golden, so relationship-building is among the top negotiation skills you can learn.
Clearly, one of the best ways to build a relationship is to provide prompt, personalized communication. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sleep with your phone under your pillow. You can make great use of automated email messaging to introduce yourself, using a template that draws personal details from your CRM.
But on the human side, relationship building requires a serious amount of emotional intelligence. As with every skill, practice makes perfect. Typical emotional intelligence techniques that help you build relationships are:
Becoming self-aware about your behavior and appearance
Managing your emotional responses
Recognizing how others feel
Listening to feedback
Staying calm under pressure
Building and maintaining relationships may take time and effort, but it is absolutely worth it. Strong client connections can lead to repeat business, referrals, and a strong network and reputation in your industry.
At the early stage of your deal-closing skills, good time management allows you to stay organized and keep control over the whole negotiation process. You should weave smart time management throughout your workflow, placing efficient timeframes on your research and setting smart deadlines for your clients to respond.
A skilled negotiator will know how to block out time on their calendar for each task related to their negotiations. This allows you to maintain focus, avoid multitasking, and be fully present in your face-to-face meetings.
But aside from the practical elements, you also need to understand yourself. If you are prone to procrastination, look out for the early warning signs and take steps to overcome it, such as breaking tasks down into more manageable steps.
Another key element of time management is to know when to walk away. You don’t want to spend valuable time chasing a client who is unlikely to bite when there are far easier opportunities elsewhere. Therefore, prioritizing your leads should be at the heart of your time management toolkit.
Patience is a negotiation skill that combines emotional intelligence with a great deal of experience. Rookie sales agents typically take an enthusiastic, puppy-like approach to negotiations, which can be off-putting to clients and lead to stress and simple errors.
However, confident negotiating involves monitoring your progress without necessarily intervening. Clients need time to reflect, especially on big-money deals, and too much pressure can lead them to take the easy option of dropping out. Similarly, rushed work often leads to easy mistakes like signing the wrong contract that can ruin an otherwise excellent sale.
Therefore, mastering the art of patience is a hugely beneficial skill in the fast-paced world of negotiations. By setting checklists, focusing on long-term goals, and taking your time, you can avoid the traps that come with hasty negotiation.
By definition, negotiation involves a degree of risk, with both parties looking to take a larger slice of the pie. Therefore, understanding risk tolerance is a critical aspect of successful negotiation skills.
Experienced negotiators seem to have a sixth sense for spotting an opportunity and seem to always know when a big risk will bring big rewards. But behind this skill is usually a track record of failures and a lot of lessons learned.
You can develop your risk tolerance skills by meticulously assessing potential outcomes and their associated risks. Outline the best-case and worst-case scenarios, and rank each outcome in between. Whenever a negotiation goes wrong (or right!), assess your risk management strategy and make sure to learn from your mistakes.
A healthy level of risk tolerance strikes the balance between being reckless and being overcautious, with both extremes being potentially destructive. However, you can afford to be more aggressive in your negotiations if you develop mitigation strategies for the higher risks. For example, if you’re putting your trust in a low-cost supplier who is new to the industry, include an exit clause in your contract and diversify your supply chain for the first few months.
There are myriad ways to improve your negotiation skills, and every meeting is an opportunity to learn. For in-person meetings, set your team the task of filling out quick online self-assessment forms to evaluate their own performance. Include questions such as whether they achieved their goals, what they think went wrong, and what they could have done differently. This information should all be collected in a database from which you can draw out performance analysis, insights, and trends to improve your best practices.
Similarly, by analyzing market trends, competitor information, and client behavior, you can tailor your sales pitch to align with the client's specific needs and industry dynamics. Furthermore, analytics allow you to identify patterns, preferences, and potential objections, enabling you to preemptively address concerns and offer compelling solutions. These skills not only enhance your credibility but also demonstrate your expertise, giving you a competitive edge in negotiations and increasing your chances of closing the sale successfully.
But improvement isn’t just about creating a one-size-fits-all approach and sticking to it like robots. You should also encourage suggestions for experimentation. These innovative negotiation skills could become the secret weapon that gives you an edge over your competitors.
Mastering these skills is a great way to start converting like never before, but you can’t focus all your attention on the final piece of the puzzle.
Bitrix24 sets the groundwork for successful deal-closing. With a full suite of tools on desktop and mobile, you can make first contact, send your client through a pipeline, store all their details in your CRM, set a date on your calendar, and so much more.
So, here's the takeaway: Elevate your negotiation game by honing these essential skills, and supercharge your efforts with the power of Bitrix24. So, for smoother negotiations, better outcomes, and the confidence that comes with seamless negotiations, sign up to Bitrix24 today.