3 Keys to Achieving a Win-Win Outcome

Have you ever walked away from a negotiation thinking, “I will never do business with this person again!” If so, you probably felt like you lost big time. Although great negotiators drive a hard bargain, most have the reputation of being both fair and trustworthy. When you have these qualities, people are willing to come back again and again – creating a Win-Win.

I once negotiated the purchase of a car with three different dealers. The first two were clearly only interested in making a sale that benefitted them, so I moved on. The third dealer made it clear that, although he wanted to sell me a car at a price suitable to him, he was also interested in meeting my unique needs and sending me away a satisfied customer; he threw in some extra upgrades and an extended service agreement. I drove off content with my new car and when it came time to purchase another car, you can guess which salesperson I returned to.

In most negotiations, fostering a cooperative atmosphere increases the chances of a win-win outcome. When each party obtains something of greater value in exchange for something on which he or she places a lower value, both parties win. Each of them may have wished for more, but at least they are both satisfied and will be willing to negotiate again later.

Some negotiators have a strong reputation for consistently achieving win-win outcomes in their negotiations. To achieve this favorable reputation for yourself, keep the following guidelines in mind.

1. Avoid narrowing the negotiation down to one issue. Focusing on just one issue sets the scene for a win-lose outcome. The most common example is arguing over the price of a product or service. To avoid getting stuck on one issue such as price, try to visualize a juggler. A juggler does not juggle just one ball. In fact, the best jugglers are those who juggle several difficult objects—like knives. Keep this picture in mind when you negotiate: Let’s say you want to buy 100 mid-range, pro-level tablets for your corporation and your budget is $1,000 per tablet. The model you prefer is listed for $1,299 per tablet. You may be tempted to lock on to the price issue and do your best to get the tablets discounted to $1,000. Why? Because price is the easiest and most logical deal point to discuss. If you take this tack, you may be successful at reducing the price, but you take the chance of laying the foundation for a lose-lose outcome. Keeping that juggler in mind, a better strategy would be to bring up additional deal points to negotiate, such as delivery date, financing, upgrades, warranty, training, and support—all of which contribute to the overall “price” of the product. Bringing multiple issues to the table provides the opportunity for you to “juggle” the deal points to create a win-win outcome.

2. Realize that your counterpart does not have the same needs and wants you do. If you do not take this factor into consideration, you negotiate with the idea that your gain is your counterpart’s loss, and vice versa. With that attitude, it is virtually impossible to create a win-win outcome. In the computer example above, most negotiators would assume that the number-one goal of each counterpart would be to get the best respective price. But if price were the most important factor for all buyers, they would all purchase the cheapest computer, and no other model would ever be sold! The reason there are so many models is that buyers almost always have needs other than price that drive the outcome in negotiations.

3. Do not assume you know your counterpart’s needs. It’s very common for negotiators to assume they know exactly what their counterpart wants. For example, a salesperson “knows” that the buyer wants to buy the product or service at the lowest possible price. That may be true—but the buyer may have a much more powerful need that influences his or her decision to buy. By asking probing questions, the sales- person may discover other relevant facts, for example, that the buyer’s biggest concern is what his or her boss will think about the wisdom of the purchase decision.

By utilizing the three critical elements of a negotiation you can start to achieve a Win-Win outcome in your negotiations and build on your reputation as a trustworthy negotiator that people return to again and again.

If you want to take your negotiation skills to the next level and build lasting, win-win relationships with customers that will benefit you for years to come, purchase our new book “The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need” or contact us for more information on how a Negotiation Skills Training workshop could benefit you, your team and your company for years to come.



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