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Winning or Losing


Are You Winning over the Clients you Want or Losing Out?

Jan Potgieter

How many times in the course of a day have you found yourself negotiating a situation? I would be willing to guess that you encounter both planned and unplanned opportunities for negotiation several times a day, yet more often than not, you may find the act of negotiations difficult. If you push too hard, the deal goes astray and if you’re too soft, you become known as a pushover. The key to sound negotiation is not just having a positive style, but includes proper preparation, framing, recognising the techniques and ploys of others, as well as settling on agreements that stick. It is crucial that you are armed with the appropriate tools, which maximise the return on your relationships with suppliers, customers, shareholders and other important business or personal relationships. Consequently, whether it is for the new contract that is up for bid or the negotiation with a business associate, in all likelihood your attempts to win more may need some reevaluation.

What exactly is “Negotiation?”

According to the dictionary, to “negotiate” means “to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter.” Yet, it is a fact that nearly 75% of individuals faced with having to conduct crucial negotiations do not realise success at their negotiation efforts and rarely have a clue as to how to win more during a negotiation. Instead, most negotiators have learned only how to push against others, criticising and attacking rather than identifying one another’s strong points. Typically, criticism, rather than creativity, has become the norm during most negotiating efforts.

Although we, as intelligent individuals, possess countless tools for success, negotiating presents a different type of problem that often leaves us somewhat baffled. Perhaps it’s because we feel vulnerable, afraid of losing out or, worse, having to make what appears to be an unfair concession. Or possibly we have the need to control the situation, which, of course, interferes with our practical powers of reasoning. In any case, whether your negotiations involve a corporate situation, a small business transaction or simply a personal endeavor, conceivably throughout your lifetime you’ll spend endless hours in arbitration, mediation and bargaining.

The Right versus Wrong Syndrome

Allow me to bring this home a little more clearly. Envision yourself presenting a proposal to a potential business associate. You have worked hard on the proposal and proudly present it for review. Upon analysis, ninety percent of the proposal is perfectly acceptable and meets your associate’s needs, but 10% of it falls short. More than likely, your associate will reject the proposal not because it wasn’t a good proposition, but simply because they were blinded by the 10% that is wrong. Instead of coming from a place of agreement, they have based their overall decision on the 10% of the proposal that doesn’t work, leaving you to start from scratch. This is the stage where most of us abort important negotiations.

The problem stems from the fact that we have actually been conditioned into believing that someone’s ideas can be improved by criticism, although experience has taught us that when it comes to negotiating, so much more is achieved when focusing on what’s right rather than on what’s wrong. If we seek to improve upon what we see and hear, rather than diminishing someone’s suggestions or ideas, amazing results occur.

Our conclusions and means of handling negotiations are based upon the conditioning we’ve learned through our educational institutions and from our general upbringing. A sad commentary, that culturally we have become so focused on what’s wrong instead of recognising what’s right, we often miss opportunities. Rather than working together to create a mutually acceptable solution, negotiators merely play the role of judge, deciding who is right and who is wrong. When both negotiators come from the standpoint of being right, they’re unable to hear each other’s opinions. Hence, conflict and frustration is frequently the result, and this can be avoided.

If You Want to Win More!

Are we doomed to remain in the half-empty cup syndrome or is there something that can be done to change and improve upon our conditioned negotiation skills? There are usually numerous obstacles standing in the way of a successful negotiation, but with the proper tools and a little bit of “unlearning,” there are many options available that will allow us to win more. As Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Negotiators who fail to keep pace with today’s ever-changing business landscape are destined to find themselves stuck in old ways. Accordingly, if negotiators remained open to the positive aspects of ideas or suggestions presented by each side, deliberately identifying the positive aspects first, negotiators would find things moving forward rapidly. By way of illustration, when one person at the negotiation table quickly finds a flaw in an idea presented by the other, even if the majority of the transaction is effective, he or she is using negative thinking habits to focus on what’s wrong. To solve the problem we have to begin focusing more on what’s right. The principle that I encourage is a win more/win more parameter, where parties explore and seek to become more together than apart, i.e. win more/win more as opposed to merely win/win.

Effective Negotiation Tools!

We need intelligence and sharp focus when we begin the negotiation process but more importantly we need a good measure of wisdom to widen our perspective. Whether you are currently in the process of negotiating a business deal or contract, or simply trying to develop a new set of tools that can empower your negotiation skills, the following are some tips that will help you start moving in a new direction.

  • When beginning to negotiate, try not to be tempted into attaching absolute value labels to points of view or persons/parties, e.g. good, bad, right, wrong, shrewd, co-operative, etc.
  • Avoid labels and stereotyping and do not prejudge a person or problem before sufficient information is provided.
  • Bring more to the negotiation table by eliminating reactive and proactive thinking instead, become a projective thinker.
  • Spend less time thinking about what worked in the past; historical perspectives may no longer be valid or applicable and often freeze our perceptions.
  • Negotiation is a future oriented skill, therefore, look at negotiations as the art of the possible, not the impossible.
  • Instead of defining or describing the situation, try thinking in terms of what can be done, i.e. “how can we create a situation where people will be happy to buy our products, rather than, “what is causing people to dismiss our web site?”
  • If someone says no to a request you make, do not immediately retreat from the negotiation rather retreat within the negotiation.
  • If, during a negotiation, one party becomes stressed and tense, decrease the rate of your speech, lower the tone of your voice, breathe more deeply and more slowly, and generally convey a relaxed image.

Successful negotiations aren’t about getting your own way or giving in to another. It is useful to remember never to leave “victims” as a result of your negotiation style as they often have a habit of exacting revenge! Successful negotiations are about reaching a positive end where both parties feel satisfied with the negotiation. The most important part of a successful negotiation is that it becomes a win more/win more situation for all involved and, with the right tools, everyone can leave the negotiation table feeling satisfied and compensated fairly. With knowledge, skills and practice, negotiating can become a truly enjoyable and winning experience.


Jan Potgieter is Director of The Negotiation Academy – Europe Limited, a negotiation skills training and consultancy organisation based in London, frequently conducting engagements in the USA and internationally. He is highly skilled in the science of negotiations based on real life practical perspectives as well as a sound academic grounding in the principles of negotiations. Jan successfully helps companies and individuals around the world reach their negotiation objectives through dynamic workshops and seminars. You can learn more about The Negotiation Academy – Europe at , contact Jan Potgieter at +44(0)8451 298 554 (UK) and 1 888 299 9733 (USA) or send an e-mail for further details.

The Negotiation Academy (TNA) is a negotiation consulting and negotiation skills solution provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal results from negotiations across all functional areas: Negotiation Skills Training

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Salary Negotiations


Salary Negotiations

Calum Coburn

Whether you’ve found that perfect job or are in hot pursuit of it, sooner or later you will be negotiating salary. If you follow our advice, not only will you earn more money, you will win the respect of your new manager.

Power is one of those subjective forces that’s best understood and harnessed to your advantage. Many mistakenly believe that the employer has the power. Their reasons include the fact that the employer is the one paying the salary, the employer has the choice of other candidates, the employer has already decided the salary grades and bands, the manager has seniority or position power etc. Yes these are all sources of power, and yes they all demand adequate respect and research. You only really need pay attention to one source of power. This source of power stands taller than all others stacked up. I’m talking about the power of having another job offer. Just because you have found your ‘perfect job’ doesn’t mean you should stop interviewing. Similar to romantic partners, nothing makes you more attractive to a prospective employer than having offers from the competition. You may even discover that the job you thought was perfect isn’t so perfect after all.

An objection you will probably hear in response to a request for time or other concessions is “We can’t do that, it’s Company Policy.” Of course if you back down and accept this objection at face value you will be dealing your employer all the best cards. I recommend you challenge this objection immediately by asking if your employer is aware of the reason why the company policy was originally made. Often employers don’t really know, and in answering you they need to re-evaluate a possibly outdated in non-applicable policy. Getting more information arms you in knowing how best to get around this stonewall response. Your employer may be worried that making an exception for you could open the floodgates for all other employees to request the same concession. Remember that rules always have exceptions. So help them out by thinking through how your valid reason is special and unique enough not to be used by all their employees.

Trading is equally valid for salary negotiations as with company negotiations. An example can be “If I forego my current holiday leave to start early for you, then I would like the company car.” Make sure your concessions are not given away freely. Use If-Then statements. After ranking each of your interests, predict which interests make good trades – yet remain flexible.

Nowadays most positions carry an associated salary range or ‘band’ for their grade. This makes salary negotiation more challenging and demands more from creativity in creating an ideal package. In negotiation – information is power. So find out the salary range before interviewing. If you are already working for your employer and going for a promotion, your task is simple. If you know someone already working for this prospective employer – ask them. Alternatively you could ask personnel. I recommend you not ask your prospective manager, as this could open the door to premature discussions around your salary expectations.

Grade has become increasingly important given the narrow salary ranges grades dictate. As a client related to us, he was so glad to accept the title “Financial Director” that he only later discovered that most other company directors were a grade higher and were paid handsomely more. So do ask about the differences between the position you are being offered and the next 2 grades above. It may be that there are 2 grades between you and your manager. At worst, if you are not awarded a higher grade, you will at least have shown ambition and foresight. Your interview is an important time to gain insight and agreement on performance measures that spell the difference between grade promotion.

Performance bonuses are no longer the domain of sales professionals. Bonuses can be thought of as part of your salary offering. Of course since bonuses are paid only if you exceed a target, you would do well to discover just how stretching the target is. So ask about how often this quarterly or annual bonus has been paid. Often performance targets are only paid if a target is met or exceeded. The risk to the company is of managers either easing their foot off of the accelerator after target is achieved, or of deferring invoices into future periods. As an ambitious manager or executive, you have an opportunity to propose your being paid a higher bonus for every pound or dollar above target.

Time is arguably your most precious of your tradable commodities. So before you promise away valuable time to your employer, you owe it to yourself to do your arithmatic. One useful calculation to perform is that of dividing your salary by your hours to get your effective hourly rate. So a position paying 70’000 with 60 hours per week pays less per hour than 60’000 with only 46 hours per week (22.4 versus 25 per hour). Yet which figure would grab your eyes first in an advertisement? So rather than negotiate salary up, you may find it easier to negotiate your time down. If you are confident of meeting the goals, ask for more vacation or to work 4-day weeks.

External principles and measures are your best source of objectivity and fairness in assessing your salary offering. If you object to a proposal as being too low, no doubt they will ask you why you feel this way, and why your counter proposal is any better than their offer. Since we are persuaded by reason, and moved by emotion – research your reasoning with care. Some common comparisons to draw include: what their competition pays similar grade professionals, pegging salary increases to inflation or government salary rate increases, case studies of where a new practice that breaks the ‘company policy’ has worked well for another company.

When should you mention salary? It’s true that “Until you have created value, any price is too high.” So mention salary only after you’ve convinced your employer of your future value to them – so towards the end of your negotiation. This presumes you have worked together with your prospective employer in calculating how much more profit they will be earning through employing you, and how much less risk they will be facing. Be careful not to leave salary for very last. Why? If you have nothing left to trade and want 70’000, whilst they are offering 60’000 – you will most likely settle somewhere near 65’000 (and the battle of wills probably won’t be an enjoyable way to start your business relationship) . To strengthen your trading position, find out what they are most interested in, and keep this in your back pocket for when salary comes up. This way you will be able to trade something of great value to them (which may be of little or no cost to you, e.g. an early starting date) for a higher salary. It is not important who mentions salary first.

‘Salary Expectations’ boxes from agencies or employers – should you fill them in? NO! As without your knowing the hours, bonus package and benefits, office size etc this figure is meaningless. Routinely this figure will be used as a price ceiling against which to bump your head in later salary negotiations. So always leave the box blank.

Leveraging benefits is a concept every professional negotiator understands and uses. Put simply, you want to ask your employer to make concessions that cost them very little – while in return make concessions that are of great value to them. How do you do this? You start by stepping into their shoes and asking which interests they value the least and which the most. So rather than bump up your salary, an employer may find it comparatively easy to pay for: your insurances (health, life or redundancy), a laptop computer, home broadband or extra telephone line, car allowances, subscriptions, training and development, relocation, better/ larger office space, title, flexi-time. These benefits either cost your employer nothing or are tax deductible.

Stepping into the shoes of your manager is almost always an illuminating and vital experience. To make sure you are really in their shoes, ask a friend to be you, whilst you play at being your ‘manager to be’. The more real you make the experience of being someone else, the higher your chances of mind-opening discoveries.

So what can you discover whilst in their world?

This all depends on the quality of your questions, here are some to start with whilst in their shoes:

  • What challenges & ambitions does hiring this candidate promise to solve?
  • What interests underlie these?
  • Can you rank these interests in order of importance?
  • What concerns and reservations do you harbour?
  • What past achievments should I be most interested in learning more about?

The employer’s cost of hiring is one terrain few candidates pay enough attention to. If they choose to hire another candidate to save a few thousand in salary, what might be the cost if this person proves to be a poor performer? Agency charges are commonly large. Most candidates take at least 6 months to have a positive ROI (return on investment) – whilst they are being trained and get into the role and used to the company. If they are being managed out or under performance review, this can take some time and consume considerable organisational resources. Then of course they would need to scout for a replacement. I’ve yet to meet an executive who relishes injecting valuable company time scanning résumés and interviewing all over again. Of course they would rather not be stealing time from profitable company projects. So don’t dismiss whatever advantages you have over the next candidate – your skills will have a tangible payoff to your employer.

How honest should you be with your prospective new manager? Prior to the 1990’s, many negotiation texts focussed on ethically questionable tactics to gain the advantage. We don’t advocate the use of dishonest tactics, and teach delegates how to counter these tactics when presented with them. Since a good long-term relationship between you, them, and the company is essential, we would suggest you be as honest as is customary. A quick generalised cultural contrast will illustrate: A résumé in Holland will likely be an accurate objective description of the experience gained. Whilst a résumé in Britain by contrast is more likely to be slightly ’embellished’. So a Dutch person wishing to enter the British job market may find themselves at a disadvantage if they were not to alter their résumé.

“How much are you earning in your current position?” A dangerous question usually aimed at using this figure to cap your current salary ambitions. In the words of Edward E Cummings “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question”. So ask to learn more about the position before you get into detailed salary discussions. If asked a second time, have ready your research into the salary of the offered position and similar positions. If your current position either doesn’t provide a meaningful comparison or is comparatively low, then briefly spell out the reasons why this figure should not guide current discussions. Think about the message this question conveys – that your new manager trusts someone else’s historic judgement more than their own judgement. So make sure your new manager has all the information they need to make up their own minds by accurately assessing and valuing your future contribution.

“What are your salary expectations?” In reply, ask what the normal salary range for this position is (assuming you haven’t already uncovered this information). If asked again, distinguish yourself from the thundering masses by stating “I am much more interested in doing (type of work) for (organisation’s name) than I am in the size of the initial offer.” If asked yet again, a great final response is “I will consider any reasonable offer.”

Your story telling skills are vital at interviews. Invest time in remembering and rehearsing the stories of how you saved your previous employer “X” and completed project “Y” on time. The simple fact is that words on a résumé are not read, most are skimmed or glossed over. So you can’t afford to leave any of your relevant achievements to chance. Stories will also stick in your interviewers mind, helping you stand out from the pack when they come to remembering which candidate they want to invite back. It is largely through succinct storytelling that you give yourself a platform to start creating value in the eyes and ears of your employer.

Some people are great at negotiating for others, yet pushovers when negotiating for themselves. Your interviewer is likely to be acting as an agent for the organisations’ interests. Conversely you will likely be acting on your own interests as principal. So how can you fight harder for your own corner? If you do fight harder for others, then think of the benefits your family or those closest to you will gain through your getting a better deal. Since to most people money is meaningless on its own, think of all the things you would like to enjoy from your salary, then imagine life without these things and experiences (if you don’t negotiate well). The reason I add this last step of ‘life without’ is simply that I’ve found most business people are more likely to take action to prevent loss, rather than to achieve something new.

Silence should be your close friend. So avoid lowering your offer to break the silence. Either wait out the silence or ask if you can help with their thinking. So remember to be silent whilst you think through your options.

Various psychology studies suggest that our first few moments of meeting someone new are the most important. This is because we form an opinion and decide whether we like or dislike someone in this small passage of time. Some studies suggest that as much as 90% of our impression is formed at this stage. So our ‘chemistry’ with others is made or lost in roughly the first 60 to 90 seconds. Some reports even suggest this happens in our first 4 seconds! Considering you won’t have exchanged very many words at this time, and most certainly nothing of real meaning, that only leaves what isn’t said. So consider carefully your clothes and how you hold yourself, how friendly you come across, your vocal qualities, and of course your attentiveness and rapport skills. A large unspoken question you will be answering every moment of the interview is “Does this person fit in with the team and organisational culture?” Whilst you should be yourself at interviews, be yourself at your best!

Finally, be careful not to negotiate yourself into a job you don’t really want. Salary negotiation is only one of many significant facets of a job interview. So prepare and ask all the important questions necessary for you to assess whether the job, team, boss and organisation are worthy of you.
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The Negotiation Academy (TNA) is a negotiation consulting and negotiation skills solution provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal results from negotiations across all functional areas:
Negotiation Skills Training

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A Career in Sales


Sales Advice

A career in Sales

For people who enjoy negotiating, planning, customer communications and clinching deals with people, a Sales career offers an excellent career path with great prospects for career development and responsibilities within the early years.

It has long been held that the best route into sales is with a larger company where plenty is invested in the recruitment, training and development of its personnel. Typically such companies have well-known brands and the employees of these businesses are deemed to have been classically trained. Some Sales roles are field based where many individual accounts are managed; other roles are head office based from where major accounts, such a national retail chains, are managed. Career success in the sales sector is ultimately down to the individual and their ability to take initiatives and achieve results.

A typical career path in Sales

Territory Telesales/Field Sales Executive – ?16,000 to ?22,000
this role is usually the first rung on the ladder to a career in Sales. Much time will be spent on the telephone and road visiting significant numbers of customers and putting all training into practice on the job. Typically there will be ongoing training throughout the first year and Sales employees can expect to meet up with regional colleagues on a regular basis.

Key Account Manager – ?24,000 to ?30,000
A Key Account Managers role is frequently split between?field work in a region and working in head office. Higher value accounts are often the focus, or companies with several outlets or branches. This position is often a first step into man-management. Training can be frequent in a Sales career as companies focus not only on personal development but also on educating their teams about new products and up and coming promotional activities.

National Account Manager – ?34,000 to ?44,000
this role carries a high level of responsibility and requires an in-depth knowledge of the company’s products and where they are positioned within the marketplace. A full appreciation of marketing promotions, product data and category management is essential.

Sales Director – ?60,000 +++
A Sales Director will be responsible for the entire sales performance of a company, or of major brands within a large organisation. Few people progress to director level before the age of 35.

The Typical job responsibilities of mid to senior level National Accounts Management

Day to day

  • Meeting customers and selling
  • Recruiting new staff
  • Motivating, training and monitoring.
  • Man-management

Longer term

  • Setting targets and budgets
  • Major client entertaining
  • Developing sales and marketing strategies
  • Board liaison
  • Setting trading terms

Want a career in sales?.Do`s and Don’ts

Do close the sale, both in your cover letter and your interview for a sales position. Employers hiring sales people want candidates who know how to close a sale. Thus, make sure that your “close the sale” in your cover letter by getting the interview

Don’t forget your transferable skills. If you have no direct experience in sales, think about all the sales-related things you’ve done that you can describe in an interview as transferable and applicable to sales. Have you done fund-raising? Given presentations? Solicited local businesses to participate in events? Demonstrated great people skills? Persuaded or convinced people to do things your way? Memorized food and drink orders as a waiter/waitress? These are just a few of the activities and traits that relate to sales. Coaching, teaching, playing on a sports team, and participating in university activities all provide appropriate transferable skills for sales

Do seek out employers who will invest in a solid and structured Sales training program, and support your professional growth, especially if you are new in sales.

Don’t pass up opportunities to learn more about sales and network with those who can help advance your career, such as through job-shadowing, and informational interviewing.

Don’t let rejection get to you. To be successful in sales, you can’t take rejection personally. You also need to be able to explain in a sales job interview how you will overcome the customer objections that can lead to rejection.

Do be persistent. If you have less sales experience than an employer seeks, you may be able to make up for it by being persistent. Persistence, after all, is one of the marks of a good salesperson.

Do seek out products and services to sell that you are already passionate about. Your enthusiasm in an interview will be much more convincing if you already believe in the employer’s offerings.

Don’t be negative. A positive, upbeat attitude is a must in sales. If you have difficulty breaking in right away, don’t start getting the blues. Keep your chin up and continue to show employers what an energetic, likable, confident person you are.

Do consider, if you’re a student, making your target company a project. Writing for Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, Aissatou Sidime reported on Lanita Wiltshire, who pursued an MBA before hitting the job market but “focused all her individual class projects on then-emerging Merck Pharmaceuticals. She trotted out her presentations during an interview for an internship with Merck and landed the job.”

Do maintain a professional appearance. Many companies recruit sales people at career fairs, because they want to see your appearance, what kind of a first impression you make, and how you handle yourself before they even consider your qualifications.

Networking ?Successful sales representatives are individuals who take an aggressive approach to expanding their client base and sales.” Your personal/professional network is no different, and your ability to network will demonstrate your skills in relationship-building.

Learn more from an older, more experienced sales person who can show you the ropes.

Don’t abuse the perks of a sales career, such as your company car and expense account.

Do be prepared to work long hours, often by yourself or on the road.

Don’t forget the first rule of sales and marketing: The customer always comes first.

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