By Ian Newall, Business Manager for Open Courses at Huthwaite

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." Archimedes

You've probably heard the quote before and are wondering what it has to do with getting a better deal.

At this point it may be useful to review my other article, 'The value of questions when negotiating with clients'. In that article I made the point that Huthwaite research has shown that skilled negotiators ask more questions than average. They do this to uncover customer needs so that they can show how their product or service best meets the customer's needs. This is so that the customer will value the solution and be prepared to pay for it.

Skilled negotiators also ensure that there are a number of issues on the table. Negotiating over price alone is not negotiating - it's haggling!

The sort of issues that may be negotiated, besides price, are contract length, payment terms, service levels, quality, financing, exclusivity, timelines, future business, warranties, review procedures and joint marketing. The list goes on and on. You could probably add a few more that pertain to your solution and sector.

Having more issues on the table means that you and your customer are able to negotiate more creatively because you have more opportunities to trade with each other. This is often referred to as bargaining.

The best trade that you can make is when you are able to exchange something that is cheap for you but valuable to the other side against something that is cheap for them but valuable for you.

For example, you are negotiating with a customer in a sector you haven't worked in before. The customer wants a very quick implementation. You have the resources to do it. You resist the temptation to say "Fine, we'll do it" and ask yourself what the customer could give you that would be really helpful in your business. Let's say you could use a reference to help you expand into this new sector. Now you suggest to the customer that, if they give you an endorsement, you will be prepared to meet a tighter deadline. You are providing the customer with something they value at minimal cost to yourself and they are giving you something that costs them nothing except a little time but is very useful to you. Each side has given the other something that they want at minimal cost to themselves. This is called win/win.

As part of our research at Huthwaite we have found bargaining to be key to negotiation effectiveness. We give emphasis to this and the other significant behavioural traits of a skilled negotiator in our training. This is carried out via inputs, and then through simulation, we carefully analyse the negotiating behaviours our delegates use and give them tailored feedback. Having this feedback allows delegates to work on the areas of their performance that will give them the best results.

To find out about Huthwaite Open Negotiation Skills training go to: Course Guide 2011 for individuals and small groups

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