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How to Become a Successful Negotiator with Mladen Kresic, Ep #203

Sales Reinvented

Release Date: 07/22/2020

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Do you know what it takes to be a successful negotiator? Do you possess some of the necessary skills and attributes? Do you need to brush up on your negotiation skills? In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Mladen Kresic hones in on why salespeople struggle with negotiation. He also shares some of his favorite negotiation tactics and gives some pointers for dealing with the negotiation process. Mladen is full of spectacular insight into the negotiation process. Don’t miss it!

Mladen Kresic is the CEO of K&R Negotiations—aka Negotiators.com. For 30+ years Mladen has successfully negotiated billions in deals all over the world on behalf of the most well-known international companies. His expertise is working with C-level executives in business transactions. He is the author of Negotiate Wisely in Business and Technology, a guide for sales negotiations and an Amazon e-book best-seller. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Negotiation: an interaction to achieve a result
  • [1:12] Why is negotiation important in business?
  • [1:50] Why salespeople don’t like to negotiate
  • [3:22] Mladen’s value-based negotiation process
  • [5:00] Attributes of a successful negotiator
  • [6:51] Negotiation tools, tactics, and strategies
  • [10:03] Top 3 negotiation dos and top 3 don’ts
  • [13:25] Mladen’s favorite negotiation story

Why do salespeople struggle with negotiation?

Mladen notes that negotiation is viewed as an adversarial process. Most sales professionals want to be liked by their customers. They want to please them. To some, entering into a negotiation feels like they’re putting that relationship on shaky ground. But Mladen believes that if they must view a negotiation as a process to achieve a result versus giving it a negative connotation. Doing that will change the process for the better and help you become a successful negotiator. 

Secondly, Mladen sees a lot of salespeople who don’t know when to walk away. They can be so desperate for a sale to meet their quota that they overlook things they shouldn’t. They’re so focused on being liked and reaching a deal that they get frustrated when the deal is dead. They have to learn to walk away when and if necessary. 

How Mladen prepares for a high-stakes negotiation

Mladen focuses his negotiations around what he calls the leverage cycle. It’s value-based leverage that is about delivering an outcome to the buyers. It creates confidence in the seller that they can deliver what the buyer seeks to improve. 

Mladen also focuses on agenda management. Most people think about an agenda in terms of how to conduct a meeting, interaction, or phone call. Instead, Mladen focuses on a macro-agenda, or what the entire process looks like—the resources and activities that need to happen in that timeline. 

Mladen believes it is THE most critical aspect of the process that we should focus on in order to thrive as a successful negotiator.

The attributes of a successful negotiator

Everyone has natural traits that will not necessarily change so you must play to your strengths. Mladen emphases that negotiation is an art AND a science and there are some things that can be learned, but that these traits are paramount to your success:

  • Genuine Curiosity: Genuine curiosity is absolutely critical. What makes the other side tick? What do they value? What do they need out of this relationship?
  • Confidence without arrogance: A prospect wants to feel that you’re confident in your product/service but are humble in your approach.
  • Competence: You need to know your product or service well and be knowledgeable about the counterparty as well. 
  • Integrity: Salespeople have a poor reputation because they’re perceived as lacking integrity, which is why this attribute is so important. 
  • Compassion: You have to have a level of compassion for the people you’re negotiating with and be able to put yourself in their shoes.

Mladen believes that if a salesperson possesses these attributes they’ll be one step closer to being a successful negotiator. Mladen goes on to share his Risk/Reward tactic, how to break down levels of importance, and other strategies and tactics that are important to the negotiation process—so keep listening! 

Mladen’s negotiation dos and don’ts

Mladen shared some pertinent dos and don’ts in this episode:

  1. Listen more and talk less. Mladen admits he’s a type-A personality that loves to talk (as are many salespeople). But to be a successful negotiator, you must purposefully slow your pace and be sure to listen intently and talk less. He points out that you’ll always have the opportunity to say what you need to say at some point. But first and foremost, you want your counterpart to feel heard and understood. 
  2. Prepare and plan—don’t wing it. This is where agenda management comes into play. Even if you’re strapped for time, you make time to prepare. It is unprofessional to come into a negotiation completely unprepared. 
  3. Don’t make arbitrary concessions. Don’t respond to a request just because they asked. It’s detrimental to one’s credibility and prolongs the process. Instead, Mladen shares that you need to engage in principle concessions: concessions made with credible business rationale. Is the scope too large? Is there a lack of value in the deal? Is there a competitive alternative that is better placed and lower priced?

If you begin to employ some of these strategies in your negotiations, you’ll likely yield more favorable results. Mladen shares his favorite negotiation story and how it changed his negotiation style in the remainder of the podcast—so be sure to listen to the end!

Resources & People Mentioned

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