“Negotiators and Entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see nothing. They envision a gold mine where others only see barren earth.” – Manie Spoelstra
Manie Spoelstra is the Director of the International Negotiation Academy and a visiting Professor of Negotiation and International Business, which forms part of an accredited MBA program at the Barney Barnett business school at the Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, USA. His published book: Negotiation the Genesis of Management, speaks to his vast practical experience within the field of negotiation.
In speaking to Manie the author realised that negotiation skills, to a degree, is the fulcrum around which life evolves. We negotiated ourselves into, or out of relationships, our negotiations to achieve a higher position in the company that we work for either failed or succeeded. The business partnerships that we form or business deals that we conclude are all based upon negotiations.
Manie firmly believes that at the heart of a successful negotiator lies the ability to “frame” the negotiation in the right way. To explain his point Manie referred to a paraphrased biblical story of David and Goliath:
“David, upon the sight of the giant Goliath, stood his ground and exclaimed: ‘WHAT A HUGE TARGET!!”, whilst the other Israelites ran in fear, shouting: ‘Run! Run! Look at the size of him, he is going to kill us all!!
David ‘framed’ the gigantic presence of Goliath as an opportunity to succeed and saw his huge frame as the best target possible. His fellow soldiers ‘framed’ the circumstances differently and ran away from the opportunity that David saw.
Before engaging in a negotiation of any kind the negotiator will do well to firstly endeavour to remove his/ her own biases and pre-conditioning and rather cast his/her focus on different angles and approaches that could possibly lead to a win-win scenario for all parties committed to the negotiation.
Manie further elaborated on this point by sharing a practical example from his own experience: Manie “re-framed” his position as a potential buyer of a car to one of a ‘seller of money’ when he contacted nine different car dealerships via e-mail, at the same time.
In his e-mail, he stated that he has R360 000 (Three hundred and sixty thousand rand) immediately available to him in cash. The reader must take note at this point that the average selling price for the Lexus that Manie wanted to buy, at that point in time, was R420 000.00 (Four hundred and twenty thousand rand).
With the aim in mind of creating a sense of urgency he wrote in his e-mail that this offer as the “seller” of R360 000.00 was only valid until the end of business on the same day and that the first car dealer to come back to him will secure the deal.
Related: How to Win a Business Negotiation
Rather than having cars simply standing on the dealerships’ floor two car salesman responded to Manies’ mail and he successfully purchased a new car worth R420 000.00 at R360 000.00!
This master of Negotiation skills described “the terrible hindsight problem” that we as Entrepreneurs in general have. We tend to fear failure and therefore procrastinate and delay taking brave action. By acting swiftly yet thoughtfully we create hope and create a scenario where we can learn from our mistakes rather than not taking opportunities and avoid failure by being passive. By constantly honing our negotiation skills, by being more prepared and thoughtful before engaging in negotiations, and by taking brave action we are sure to develop an optimised negotiation mindset.
Manie described constantly improving your EQ (Emotional intelligence), working on and learning people skills, a basic understanding of how price points are developed along with a basic understanding of contract law, as critical skills to develop on your journey to become a master of negotiation.
Negotiation skills are not only critical to our survival as Entrepreneurs but also very important in relation to our personal growth. How we ‘frame’ negotiations have a direct impact on the end result. We constantly must work on various skills to become masters of negotiation, such as, for example, people skills.