“The probability of getting what you want lies in the way, when, and how you ask for it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)
No matter what you ask for, there’s value in asking for it the right way.
The buyer asked the seller to lower his price. The seller’s response was, “wait a minute. If I lower my price, I want to make sure it will still cover my cost.” Then he said, “okay – I’ll lower it.”
In that split second, two things occurred. One, the seller lowered his price. And two, the seller had given valuable information about the margin on the product he was selling. The buyer thought, “that margin information has value.” I’ll use it in our next negotiation. And, the buyer enhanced the probability of getting the seller to lower his price by doing several things right. Those factors are tools that good negotiators consider and use in every exchange they encounter. Continue, and you’ll discover what they are.
Timing of Request
The timing of your request adds or detracts from the probability of your receiving it. Therefore, consider the following factors before making your request:
Setup – Sometimes, you can enhance a request by doing it in stages. As an example, if you wanted something that you thought had a low probability of being granted, you might ask for something less to build up to your ultimate request. Some negotiators call this the salami technique. You get a little of what you want now and more over time.
State of mind – When making a request, another point to consider is someone’s state of mind. When a person is happy, their demeanor is more amenable, compared to when they’re in a dour state of mind. And depending on what you’re requesting, someone’s grim state of mind might be the right mindset for you to make your request (e.g., when your appeal puts them back into a happier state).
External demands or pressures – Aligned with state of mind is the external influences applied to your subject. Claims that don’t stem from you could offer the leverage needed to give your request more perceived value. Never overlook the external pressures that might be bearing on your subject. They might be the assistance you need to have your request fortified.
Seller/Buyer goals – The tie the bonds the Timing of Request is the seller/buyer’s goals. Without a need, the probability of having your request granted decreases substantially. Therefore, before making a request, understand how it will add value to the goals of that person. If you don’t consider that, you’ll miss a vital aspect of your value proposition.
The words used to make requests impact the outcome of that request. Some of the factors to consider are:
- Reciting the same words used by your target – Psychologically, parroting someone’s words triggers a subliminal attraction to your request. That’s because, when you use the same words that someone uses, the words sound familiar to them. And of course, they will, because they’re that person’s words. Thus, the person will have a built-in infinity for those words. And that’s what will make someone more susceptible to granting your request.
- Tonality – Have you ever disliked someone due to the tone they used? Tonality ties critically into word choice. That means you can parrot someone, but if your speech is misaligned, you’ll decrease the chances of having your request granted. To add value to your request, mimic the other person’s sounds.
- The pace of speech – Another factor to consider when making a request right is your pace of speech. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “that person sounded like a used car salesperson.” And that’s not to demean people in that discipline. It’s to point out that speech pace conveys a sensory perception. Thus, if you talk too fast, some people will inherently distrust you. If you speak too slowly or softly, they may think you’re slow-witted. Use their speech patterns as the guide to how you should talk.
Remember, when I did you a favor? The invoking of that memory is one form of an attempt to use leverage. And there’s substantial value in it.
I talk about leverage a lot in my seminars and presentations. The reason being, it’s a factor that can give a weaker positioned negotiator more power in a negotiation. And while leverage may not be readily apparent, if you’re able to uncover it, you’ll have a vital aide to assist your cause.
To use leverage when asking for an increase or decrease in an offer, depending on your negotiation position, consider the timing of your request, the needs of the other negotiator, and any time factor they may restrict the other’s ability to acquire the outcome they seek. Using leverage with those factors will strengthen your negotiation position.
Value of Information
People don’t realize the value of information. Thus, they freely give it away when they speak. Worse, they give away the right information at the wrong time. And sometimes someone uses that information against them.
The seller that made the earlier statement unknowingly disclosed his margins, which was valuable information for the buyer. The seller could have used that information as leverage by citing it strategically when it served his purpose. As an example, if the seller said to the buyer, “I can’t lower my price – that won’t cover my cost.” He would still be giving insight into his margin, but this time, he’d be using it to justify why he could not meet the buyer’s request.
Always be mindful of the information you give and how you dispense it. There’s value in intelligence. And the way and time that you provide information to others determine how they might use it and the chances you’ll encounter in having your requests accepted.
Remember, you have the initial advantage in making requests. And that adds value to your ability to make appeals right. Because you’ve had the time to formulate your thoughts – that’s not true for the other person.
Thus, if someone doesn’t go into thought mode, or ask if they can get back to you later, they’re negotiating at the moment. That means the other person will have foregone thoughts about the strategies they’ll use. That’ll put you in a more prominent position while enhancing the chances of you obtaining what you want. And everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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