When negotiating, insider information is a valuable commodity. Getting better insider information when negotiating is even better!
Consider using the following strategies to acquire insider information in your negotiations.
Depending on the time you have to gather information, consider how you’ll pose questions to yourself and stakeholders that will be beneficial to your negotiation efforts (Note: Keep in mind that the questions you ask will determine the answers you receive; that in turn will determine the strategies you adopt. If you pose the wrong questions, you’ll start upon a path in the negotiation that might be less beneficial). Asking the right questions entails knowing the outcome you seek, how you might achieve it, the roadblocks you may encounter, and what alternative strategies you’ll employ to overcome impediments that would preclude you from achieving your goals. Also, keep in mind that the quality of the answers you receive will depend on when you pose questions. If someone is hurried, less rested, or filled with angst, they may be prone to disclosing insider information simply because they’re not as guarded as they might otherwise be.
- Assumptive Questions:
In your assessment of what questions you’ll utilize to maximize your negotiation efforts, consider how you’ll employ assumptive questions; in a negotiation, assumptive questions are questions that give the façade that the questioner knows more about the situation that he’s inquiring about (e.g. ‘You’ve given discounts to other buyers in the past, correct?’ The implication being that you’re aware, right or wrong, that discounts have been granted in the past).
Assumptive questions are excellent ways to gather information. Even if the responder states that your assumption is wrong you will have gathered additional information/insight.
- Body Language/Nonverbal Clues:
When in person, observe to what degree the person leans closer or further away when pondering an answer to your question(s); this will give insight as to whether they’re embracing or putting distance between you and their answer. Leaning away can indicate that they don’t wish to engage, which can imply that they don’t want to disclose the answer to your question. Leaning forward can imply that they’re willing to engage. Note how and when they lean.
If you’re on the phone, listen for intonations, pauses, and emotions displayed. Take note of the words that emphases are placed on, too. Such will bear noting for the possible hidden messages contained in them.
To practice and increase your listening skills, close your eyes while speaking with someone on the phone. Toss a question that’s not generic to the conversation and listen to the response. In particular, take note of how long the other person pauses before responding, their intonation, voice quality (i.e. puzzled), and the follow-up question(s) they raise as to the timing of your question. Then, ask for the thoughts they had when you asked the question. Over time, you’ll become better at deciphering the thoughts and thought processes of others.
To acquire insider information that can be used to your benefit in a negotiation, know what questions to ask, the best time to ask them, and how to validate the responses you receive. By implementing the strategy of gathering and using insider information in your negotiations you’ll increase your negotiation win rate… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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