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The Role of Intellectual Curiosity in Negotiation with Mike Macchiarelli, Ep #210

Sales Reinvented

Release Date: 09/09/2020

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Intellectual curiosity is a curiosity that leads to the acquisition of knowledge. The intellectually curious have a deep and authentic need to understand the world and the people around them. In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Mike Macchiarelli shares how intellectual curiosity influences the negotiation process. Don’t miss this episode!

Mike Macchiarelli has over ten years’ experience in B2C selling as a salesperson, trainer, and manager. During his time with Equinox—a global luxury-lifestyle fitness brand—he won numerous awards and has helped to train over 1,000 salespeople. He also is well known for his online blog, Saving Face, where he writes about sales, negotiation, and leadership.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:52] Negotiation is reaching a mutual agreement
  • [1:09] Business at its most basic is an exchange
  • [1:41] Why don’t salespeople like to negotiate?
  • [3:09] Mike’s negotiation process hinges on flexibility
  • [4:52] A great salesperson must have intellectual curiosity 
  • [5:50] A strategy Mike uses to bring curiosity into the equation
  • [7:34] Mike’s top 3 negotiation dos and don’ts
  • [9:40] What the Cuban Missile Crisis teaches us about negotiation 

Flexibility in negotiation is imperative 

The biggest hurdle to overcome in the negotiation process is preparation. Mike sets aside time in his calendar to prepare on paper, to think through what is about to happen and strategically formulate his approach. But Mike points out that no matter how strategic or well-crafted your approach is, you have to be prepared to change it throughout the negotiation. 

It’s a journey with different stages and you have to be flexible. You have to mentally prepare to go back and forth 5-8 times (or more) and adapt your strategy along the way. One of Mike’s favorite approaches is from Michael Wheeler’s book ‘The Art of Negotiation’. In its simplest form, you must: learn, adapt, and influence. Keep listening to hear more about his approach! 

Intellectual curiosity is the key to successful negotiations

Mike emphasizes that a salesperson at his or her core needs to be curious. Curiosity trumps all. The entire sales and negotiation process is a process of exploration and discovery. You must have the curiosity to discover what’s truly driving the other person and what’s going to meet their needs. So much of what you need to know is hidden under the surface. It takes curiosity to ask the right questions to gather the necessary information. You must actively listen to understand and have empathy throughout the process. 

An exercise to build your curiosity muscle

An exercise that Mike recommends to build your curiosity muscle is to take a sheet of paper and list out everything you know about the current situation: Who are the people you’ll be negotiating with? What is their professional background? What about personal information? What are they looking for? Who are the stakeholders? What issues may crop up? 

In another column write everything you’re wondering based on what you know. It enables you to train your intellectual curiosity and come up with a million great questions and avenues to explore during your negotiation. It also helps you focus on the driving factors and motivations of the other person.

Mike shares his top negotiation do’s and don’ts—and why price is rarely the issue in a failed negotiation—so keep listening!

A negotiation doesn’t exist in a vacuum

Mike is a huge history buff. One of his favorite negotiation stories happened during JFK’s presidency: The Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States found out that Russia had been building and storing missiles in Cuba. The situation could’ve easily escalated into conflict—maybe even a nuclear war. But when the two countries negotiated, they allowed each party to save face. They consciously applied empathy and placed themselves in the other person's shoes before they made moves that could exacerbate the situation. 

Mike points out that you must never back a person into a corner or make them look bad in front of other people. A negotiation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The people you negotiate with will always have to explain their decisions to another person. They have to think about whether or not the deal will reflect well on them. It’s part of the social conditioning built around making a deal. It’s our job to help them feel confident and certain they can justify their decision to another person. They’ll go through with the agreement if they are confident in the deal being made.

Resources & People Mentioned

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