Conversation skills are becoming somewhat of a lost art. Yet conversation is the #1 basic skill any good negotiator or salesperson must master, according to Rene Zamora. Rene joined me on a recent episode of Negotiations Ninja to talk about sales management and communication. He points out that conversation skills can make or break a negotiation.
You can’t be in a conversation with the person across the table and spend the entire time thinking about the next thing you’ll say. You can’t be so wrapped up in your own thoughts that your counterpart feels ignored or misunderstood. Many people find simple conversation stressful and difficult. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
The simple yet novel concept: practice
Rene points out that part of the art of conversation is managing the negotiation occurring in your mind. We all have fears, doubts, judgments, and other negative self-talk that we have to overcome to find confidence.
You also have to overcome worrying about your next response, the questions you’ll ask, and anxiety about what the other person is thinking. Practice active listening: Are you waiting for them to finish their thought? Are you listening and learning and waiting for the next obvious question? Or are you preoccupied with your own thoughts?
The only way to become better at the art of conversation is by consistent practice. Practice increases awareness, which leads to clarity on the direction of the conversation.
Just like a professional athlete, the more experienced you become, the more the ‘game’ slows down. You can see the next step, clear direction, or next question without obsessing over the next move. Your confidence will grow. But it all begins with recognizing that it takes hard work and dedication. After all, what makes you think you’re going to be a natural at this?
How do you generate conversation?
For inexperienced negotiators and salespeople to whom conversation skills don’t come naturally, it can be difficult to dive in. But you’re only going to become more experienced with time and practice. So where do you start?
Rene shares that it’s simple—ask easy, relevant questions that pertain to your counterpart or their industry. Do your research and learn some conversation points ahead of time. Not only will they be impressed that you know their niche, but they’ll actually enjoy engaging in conversation with you.
Rene points out that it can be as simple as not boring the other person. People are busy, they have other priorities, and nothing is more awful than a boring conversation. Plus, once you draw them into a genuine conversation, it helps everyone become more relaxed and open to the negotiation process.
Negotiation begins and ends with conversation
Negotiation isn’t solely about getting a deal done. In many instances, it’s about developing a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. A relationship built on mutual respect and an understanding of one another that is impossible without conversation.
Honing in and developing your conversations skills is one of the easiest foundations to build to find success. You must learn to show that you’re genuinely interested in who they are, their problems, and how to solve their problems. Above all, you must genuinely care about people.
Rene shares that if you care about other people, “Life gets good and conversation gets easy.”
Rene takes a deep-dive into sales management, the interplay between sales teams and procurement, and much more in episode 136 of Negotiations Ninja. Don’t miss his insight into conversation and communication.