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Effective negotiating and influencing skills to grow your business

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Where it may have been possible in the early days of a business to have an informal conversation with a well known customer to resolve a conflict, as businesses expand, this is no longer realistic. Organisations that are unprepared to develop effective negotiating and influencing skills may quickly find their business in trouble.

Negotiating skills, especially across different cultures, are complex. There may be different motivations and styles of communication that work better with some cultures. For example, businesses working in Asia may find that a strong, direct negotiating style may be ineffective. In China, protecting business relationships and one’s reputation is generally more important than bringing a business opportunity to a quick conclusion – even with the threat of higher prices or increased availability problems. From the Chinese point of view, these can be seen as details to be worked out later – after the problem of fixing the business relationship is resolved.

On the other hand, compromising approaches, such is often found in the UK, can be seen in Russia as weak, as Russian negotiating styles are often a demonstration of strength.

Consensus driven organisations and cultures can be difficult for organisations that place a premium on getting things done quickly. American organisations that operate under the principle of ‘Time is money’ can often be frustrated when working with an organisation with a Scandinavian style of negotiating, where getting input from everyone and working toward a common voice is prioritised over a rushed agenda.

Finding effective negotiating techniques when working with different businesses is more than choosing the right pace or communication style. Motivations across organisations can also be very different as businesses expand and they encounter a broader customer base. In addition to prioritising the importance of completing tasks and the preservation of business relationships, organisations may not always be aware of what makes people want to work with them.

For example, an organisation may be used to working with a customer base that values comprehensive forecasting, efficient bureaucracy and fast delivery. As the business expands, organisations may encounter new clients who value price concessions; others may not have the same attitude toward accurate paperwork. New clients may be more motivated by being able to bring a product or service into their country ahead of their own competition, thus giving them boasting rights, especially if the product or service is labelled as new and exclusive. Organisations that are successful in expanding their business are wise to understand these sometimes complex and contradictory motivations when going to the negotiating table.

Organisations that are looking to grow their business are best placed to do so when they recognise the need to develop their negotiating and influencing skills. Whether across new business, country or cultural borders, people are motivated by different values, styles and processes.

Learning best practices of effective negotiation and influencing skills are beneficial to the financial and cultural health of your organisation and give the advantage over many other organisations who are still working within their comfort zone, ultimately preventing them from successful growth.

Declan Mulkeen is marketing director at Communicaid.

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