I am passionate, but a poor negotiator. Help!

I just got some feedback that a potential client was ready to do the deal, but when I was rolled out at the final meeting my performance did not convince them that they should sign on.

Apparently they saw my passion as cockiness!  

I am passionate about my business, and in negotiations I know I talk too much (partly out of nerves). But my passion has always worked in my favour until now. Do I need to change, or is this a one off?



Dear Samantha,

Passion is always a wonderful attribute in an entrepreneur. But as companies find things more difficult, you need to take a very different approach. You need to listen a lot more.

But in this environment you are listening for sub text; for fear, for the need for reassurance. You are looking for reasons they might defer the deal, reject the deal, not sign the deal – and not part with their cash.

And you can’t do that when involved in a passionate spiel about yourself.

Look at it this way. People are not buying your passion. They are buying your ability to ignite their customer’s passion.

So instead of getting excited about your business success, get excited about their business success.

I know the ability to listen is a key entrepreneur attribute. The entrepreneur listens to the environment, listens for changes and listens to hear where the opportunities are. Make sure that you don’t forget how to listen. Especially now.

In this environment I always take into negotiations extra people who I know listen to sub text. It’s a good back-up if I find myself at the end of a meeting saying: “Did they really say that? I missed it.”

Lastly if you are a bit cocky, take on this bit of advice from Norm Brodsky’s book, “The Knack”. He says when you go into a room for crucial negotiations, always assume everyone is smarter than you. He takes a yellow pad to negotiating sessions. On the fourth page he writes “dummy” three times. “Whenever I catch myself thinking how brilliant I am, I open the pad to that page and give myself a silent whack and I go back to listening.”

Good luck!

Your Aunty B.

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

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