The Missing Component of Many Negotiation Training Workshops

Carl Erickson

Sales professionals have a wide range of options if they are looking to improve their negotiation training skills. These multi-day courses and workshops focus on many areas of skill development, including negotiations basics for the entry-level salesperson, more advanced courses on strategies, skills and tools for success, and even sector-specific training in fields such as legal and professional services.

As good as some negotiations training programs may be, one area in particular often does not receive the attention it deserves: the powerful influence that relationships have in the outcome of negotiations. Without an emotional and analytical understanding of how to recognize and advance relationships during the negotiations process, even a seasoned negotiator will be missing opportunities to close new deals.

Focusing on Relationships

The importance of relationships is often overlooked even in advanced negotiations skills development sessions. But in our experience, an understanding of the relationships in play and the proper signaling of respect for those relationships maintains a vital role in almost all complicated negotiations.

Every negotiation starts with some kind of relationship. When negotiating big deals, oftentimes the parties involved have an intricate relationship that goes back years if not decades. The individuals at the table also may have professional relationships with each other that can streamline or in some cases complicate the negotiation process. We have seen great success among sales team members who approach negotiations first and foremost as an opportunity to build upon relationships.

Building the Tools to Evaluate Relationships

In this light, negotiations training that does not equip participants with the tools they need to assess the relationships on both sides of a deal and act upon that assessment will inevitably fall short. A large component of our negotiations training efforts usually involves instruction on the tools needed to properly assess the strength of the relationship with a prospect. In addition, we can help an organization’s sales team to build a better understanding of the unique issues facing the other side of the proposed deal and assess where win-win is most likely.

A Focus on Real-World Scenarios

Our experience tells us that training is vastly more effective when the participants can apply what they learn to actual situations they are confronting, in real time. That’s a tall order for many training workshops, with a set curriculum that leaves little room to bring in and evaluate the experiences of individual participants. That is why we favor a custom-developed training approach, which allows our instructors to first survey the landscape of a client organization and their active deals, so that the training session is highly relevant and targeted toward the issues the participants are facing in their real deals.

Focusing on live negotiations also allows us to carefully evaluate individual negotiation styles of participants as well as themes or attitudes toward negotiation held by their organization. Adapting to the realities of the other side’s preferred style can pay huge dividends and help to achieve a mutually desirable outcome.

How We Know Relationships Matter

Sales professionals and other individuals with sales responsibilities who have completed Beacon Worldwide’s negotiations skills training have witnessed a measurable and significant increase in the number of deals they are able to close. Our sales consulting analysts have also seen a quantifiable increase in the quality of client relationships among training session participants. This impacts not only the current round of sales negotiations but also sets the stage for more productive future negotiations.