Leading printing executives into the future
Effective Negotiation Skills Impact Your Bottom Line
By Jerry Scher
Published: July 9, 2013
Throughout time one’s ability to negotiate the “best deal” has always been a critical skill;
whether you are trying to resolve an inter-personal conflict or a highly complex business deal,
your negotiation competence can dramatically impact the financial outcome. And while there are
many different theories and approaches to coaching negotiation skills it is usually agreed upon
that one’s “soft skills” are the most critical in this process.
Now before I discuss the behavioral competencies that come into play I want to drive home the
idea that you can dramatically impact your bottom line by coaching and developing your
personal and/or team’s negotiating competence. Too often transactional sales people believe that
the only negotiation they’re involved in deals with price; which is the furthest thing from the
truth. In addition to price/cost there are so many tangible and intangible alternative currencies
that come into play. This includes, but is not limited to the personal value proposition that must
be communicated by the sales person. However, in my experience far too many sales
professionals cannot describe the value they can add to the relationship and if they don’t know
what it is, than how will their clients and prospects recognize and acknowledge their value.
Creativity and diagnostic capabilities are high on the list of competencies needed for successful
negotiation. The tendency to try and persuade others as well as being assertive and diplomatic is
certainly observed in skilled negotiators. Overall, one’s interpersonal skills will provide a basic
foundation for negotiating successfully (learn more about Interpersonal Skills
Effective negotiators are well organized, open to assessing others’ points of view and willing to
engage in a discovery process that will lead to different perspectives. They understand the impact
of information and time constraints on negotiations and demonstrate flexibility. Of course they
are comfortable with handling conflict and are always on the lookout for “out of the box”
Traits to Avoid
While there are numerous behavioral competencies to look for there are also traits or behaviors
that we want to avoid. These include being too permissive, defensive, dogmatic, blunt and harsh.
Any of these traits and/or a combination of them will have a negative impact on one’s
negotiating competency. Consider what it feels like to negotiate with someone who has no
interest in your needs or perspective; someone who is clearly only interested in satisfying their
requirements. And while there are many different schools of thought about how to successfully
conduct a negotiation and how to train negotiators, the negative behaviors described above will
inhibit one’s ability to interact effectively with others.
Develop your Negotiation Competence
It doesn’t require a sophisticated calculation to appreciate the positive financial impact that
improved negotiating skills can produce. Whether you are buying or selling, an improvement in
skill is a very wise investment in time and energy. Information focused on negotiating skills is
readily available (and free of charge) for those willing to invest the time. However, gaining the
knowledge while not having the necessary behavioral competencies to apply the knowledge will
probably lead to great frustration. So I strongly suggest that you begin by determining your
strengths and weaknesses related to the behavioral competencies I have described above.
As the buying and selling process continues to evolve and the process becomes more complex,
ones’ ability to engage in thoughtful negotiation will become more imperative. When
transactionally selling a commodity there is a limit to what can be negotiated but if you are
promoting a range of products, solutions and services the sale becomes far more complex. The
sales cycle is considerably longer and the engagement with the client much more in depth.
Whether you are coaching a team or working on your own personal development, focusing on
the critical behavioral competencies impacting your negotiating competency is a very
If you would like to assess your personal negotiating competencies click on this link
http://bit.ly/11Xbw1m or if you want to assess your sales team’s negotiating competency contact
Jerry Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-931-9291.
For information about the Harrison Assessment http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html
Stay tuned to this continual series – as we continue to focus the challenges of building an
Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's
primary goal - make those around him more successful.