In today's competitive markets, your sellers and buyers need your superb negotiating skills. NAR found consumers rated negotiation skills one of the top 5 reasons to choose an agent. Here are my top 10 strategies for success with your negotiations:
1. PREPARE: Research what is important to the other party. If you know the other person's needs and objectives, you are able to offer some ways that will result in a win/win. Think through your own options and determine your BATNA=Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.
2. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. A good negotiator begins by making sure their assumptions about the needs of the other party are accurate. By asking questions, you often will uncover information that you were unaware of. Use questions like: "How Can this work?" "What would be fair?" "In your opinion,..."
3. LISTEN: Everything the other party says is an opportunity to come closer together. Don't move too quickly to the solution. There is power in silence. After you ask a question, be quiet and wait. Be patient. Usually the other party will the gap and you may get additional information. He who speaks first loses.
4. REFLECT BACK: We often assume we know what the other party meant. By reflecting back, we verify the words meant the same to them as to us. A good way to ask is to begin with: "So I can better understand your position..."
5. NO ULTIMATUMS: Don't offend or threaten. If you put them in a defensive position, they are likely to dig in their heels and become fixated on their position. Instead, calm their fears and search for win/win outcomes.
6. ANSWERING IS A SKILL: We've already determined that silence gets concessions. A good reponse to any question is: "Why do you ask?" Manage the information you answer with to minimize tipping your hand.
7. POSITION YOURSELF: Never tell the other party you REAL bottom line. Ask for more than you need. Give yourself wiggle room and then you can concede, make them feel they have gained and still achieve your objective. Then, they can have the last word, which also makes them feel good.
8. WHEN YOU CONCEDE SOMETHING, ASK FOR SOMETHING IN RETURN This is often overlooked as an opportunity to gain something back or additional. Most people do want to be fair and when you concede, it puts them in a friendlier mental state. Ask for something that will benefit your needs.
9. HAVE TIME ON YOUR SIDE: This is sometimes tough. Remember 80% of concessions are made in the last 20% of the time. Never tell the other party your true deadline. Have patience when possible so they can begin to feel the stress as the deadline approaches. At that point, they are more likely to make concessions.
10. BE INTEREST BASED VS. POSITIONAL: Always remember it is about the situation not the people. And, at the end of the day, you are not the one that is homeless. So, look for the win/win. Bring both sides together by talking about their joint, shared commitment. After all, the buyer wants to move in and the seller wants to move on. If you can keep them looking to that commitment, rather than the details, often creativity will prevail and everyone can get what they want!
As many markets soften, these skills will become even more important. On all of your presentations, talk with your clients about this. It will differentiate you from most other agents and give you an advantage.