Interview Questions – For the leading business journal in Slovenia, where I am addressing a negotiation conference of 300 people.
Authorised for release to Slovenia media, press, TV, magazines, Social media.
Derek is available for online interviews, TV and radio before, during and after the 21st March 2017
Q – For more than three decades you have been in negotiating business. How did you get into this field?
I was negotiating for a client with Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world, and I thought I was a good negotiator. We were asked to leave a meeting in 30 seconds at the HQ, as I would not reduce the price on a £1m contract.
A – I decided to buy a book on negotiating, order audio programmes and learn as much as I could on the subject. I then started teaching the subject and interviewing as many people as possible. Keeping notes on all the situation and stories
Some people are better negotiators than others. Do you think that the ability to negotiate is innate?
A – It is in some people. People, like me, have had to learn the tricks, tactics and techniques and how to handle them. Entrepreneurs have to be great negotiators, to be successful and to survive in today’s fast changing world. I look forward to meeting them in March
Can anyone become excellent negotiator, even if currently they can’t even think about being involved in business negotiations?
Yes they can. The first thing to remind yourself of is; that we are negotiating all the time. Children are great negotiators; ask anyone who has had a four year old. They have intuitive skills that we all have. What actually happens is as we grow up, we get nervous of using them, need reminding to ask and worry about upsetting people.
We are negotiating about what time we go to lunch, where we go on holiday with our partner or friends.
So once we remember that we then can start applying these skills to business negotiations. Many business people haven’t learnt the psychological skills that are needed when negotiating. They should.
Skills such as the psychology of negotiating tactics. Using good cop bad cop linked to higher authority, using time as a tactic and taking time outs in meetings so not to get pressurised into agreeing to something that they shouldn’t.
I imagine that a good negotiator must excel in a wide range of different skills. Which of these skills would you highlight?
Listening, haggling, trading, asking questions, reading body language, psychology of tactical moves, recognising lying, Neuro-linguistics etc. All covered in Win Win – How to get a winning result from Persuasive Negotiating. So if we choose asking really good questions as an example.
1 – Make sure you prepare them in advance of any meeting, telephone call.
For example –
What offer have you got from the other side?
How can we resolve this?
You do want a win win outcome, don’t you?
2 – Then listening acutely or really carefully to the answer is key. So if they say that is our NORMAL price. You make sure you hear the word NORMAL. Then you say well I am afraid we can’t pay the normal price, what can you do to help us get a special deal, as we like dealing with you?
How should a beginner undertake the acquisition of this important business skill?
Buy a book, listen to an audio programme, learn from other good negotiators and Come on the course on 21st March in Ljubljana or in Sofia on 27th April or in London in May
To become an effective negotiator is probably coherent to one’s personality as well. Which personality traits are required for good and persuasive negotiators?
It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extravert. Bold or shy. What matters is that you are willing to learn and willing to realise if you have a goal and you want that goal, then it will be necessary to negotiate to achieve that goal.
However within their personality they have must learn how to ask questions and haggle.
For example a quieter shyer less confident person might use the higher authority tactic more often.
“I would love to do the deal” said softly “but my boss would never agree to that price, what can you do to help me get his agreement”?
Knowing that negotiation can be a game of tactics and not to take anything personally is important.
It used to be the case that one of the fundamental rules at negotiating was ‘beginning with the proposal, which is set too high, so you end up reaching your initial expectations’. Is that still true? Depends on the situation or the client. Every circumstance is different, every negotiation is different. There are no magic answers. You have to be really careful that you don’t upset the other side with a too high offer if you want a long term relationship and build trust.
If it is a one off transaction then you might want to start high, however it depends on the style and the personality of the other side.
What are the biggest mistakes that should be avoided during negotiations at any cost?
Over reacting to pressure, getting upset, taking things personally and not “separating the people from the problem.
Then we come onto not preparing really understanding the issues, putting yourself in the shoes of the other side and trying to understand what they are thinking. What the key issues are for them?
Then when you learn new facts: not taking a time out to consider your options, not considering your Best Position – Target Position – Walk Away Position – Alternative Position (BATNA – best alternative to a negotiated agreement). These positions should be dynamic and therefore changeable to fit new information.
Finally not taking a well-briefed team to the negotiation.
It is known that you have participated in the multi-billion dollar negotiations. To what extent is negotiating technique related to the value, which is the subject of negotiations?
There is no difference apart from the complication of the facts, the number of parties to the negotiations and the cost of failure. We can learn a lot from family negotiations.
HOWEVER it becomes much more tricky on bigger negotiations because there will be many more parties to the negotiation. There may be multi-interests if there are joint ventures, government subsidies, several sets of lawyers, different accountants etc.
There are often time deadlines and sometimes, let’s say the lawyers like to make the deal complicated as their self interest means that the longer the negotiations go on, the more they get paid. So we must assume that not everybody’s agenda will be to get a win win deal.
In one E1bn negotiation I was involved, their lead negotiator took me out of the room and had a private word. He said “Derek we think your price is too high”. We have to do this takeover tomorrow. So we would like you to consider with your colleagues your price and come back to me with a reduced price in 10 minutes. We have no choice to agree now BUT we wish to record that if subsequently we find out you have over charged us, we will never do business with you ever again!!! We reduced our price, when we came back into the room!
Is there a difference between negotiations either on the purchase of a large enterprise or when you ‘only’ want to achieve a discount when buying a car?
IS THIS OK? The same principles apply and I will compare the two in Slovenia to the audience of high achievers on 21 March. Although I understand there are not many places left on the seminar. If you miss it, you can go to my YouTube channel. I have a video on my www.youtube.com/derekarden that has the most views about Car Negotiating. However with cars the salesperson is usually very skiiled and will use some subtle psychological tactics on you
Where do you see differences between business and political negotiations? Which of them are most significant?
YOU SAID SAY NOTHING POLITICAL? It depends whether you are a business person or a politician. Many people and politicians have their own agenda. What is Mr Trump’s agenda I wonder? We will find out soon?
Clearly Trump’s issue with things being produced in US is going to have a bearing on USA business.
We probably need to adapt negotiating tactic when negotiating face to face or via phone, for example. It seems that “ice-breaking” and negotiating on the phone is far more difficult, because one is not able to see or assess reactions of the other side. Can you give some advice on how to deal with negotiations in either case?
You haven’t mentioned email negotiations, What’s app negotiations, face time negotiations or Skype.
Very complicated but I will spend 20 minutes exploring the issues and the advantages on 21st March.
1 – Best face-to-face of course, you can see the body language, connect, build rapport, have a coffee etc.
2 – Second best on the phone as you can listen carefully to what they are saying and ask questions and clarify immediately. You can hear their voice tonality and their reactions to your suggestions.
Email is best only to document the process.
The issue is in 2017 many people want to negotiate by email. It’s not recommended on an important negotiation. As it is open to misinterpretation. One word can be taken out of context and lead to a misunderstanding. If you do receive a difficult email, and we all receive them often. What I recommend you do is immediately phone the person.
This usually puts them on the back foot. Say something like – “Oh Robert. I have just received your email, I am not sure where you are coming from or something similar”. Then stop talking and hold the silence. Make it uncomfortable for them if necessary. Make sure you listen to what their reply is. Be helpful, as as many questions as you need to.
I often do this and it is very effective. People can seem quite aggressive on email, and then quite mild face to face or on then phone.
Mr. Arden, you are also Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner. Among other things, the programme techniques help to improve communication skills, restrain emotions and improve our self-confidence. In what extent are these skills important in the negotiation process?
Vital. You have to manage your own state first. If you can’t sort yourself out how can you sort others out? Rapport, emotional intelligence, listening skills, sensory acuity, words, language, tone of voice, body language, anchoring the price, triggers, chunking.
These are all NLP disciplines which are vital for top negotiators. When I was advising a client how to save £1m on a cost contract we applied all these in the training of the negotiators.
In Plovdiv recently I did the same things for the Bulgarian negotiators at a top company, where I am a consultant. I could do the same in Slovenia.
One of your negotiation video programmes is called “Everything is negotiable”. Are there ever any exceptions? NO – unless you have such a good deal that you don’t want them to change their mind, when they think about it.
Anything else you would like to add Mr Arden
There is. I feel so privileged to be asked to return to Ljubljana for the third time. I have been so warmly welcomed in the past and the delegates are so willing to learn and hospitable.