The Six Different People in a Negotiation 

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People new to enterprise sales think that when they’re in a room negotiating with one person, they’re negotiating with one person. But according to Joe Paranteau, there are multiple people that you negotiate with throughout the relationship. Why is it important to be able to communicate and negotiate with everyone involved?

The six different people in a negotiation are people that are often overlooked. Joe uses this framework when he approaches any communication:

  • How do I view myself?
  • How do I view the other person?
  • How do I think the other person views me?
  • How do I think the other person views themselves?
  • How does the other person view me?
  • How do I think the other person believes that I view them?

Those are the six different people in a negotiation. If there are two or more people in a negotiation, you have a room full of people to think about.

But you have to think deeply about how the other person views you.

  • Are you coming across as too salesy?
  • Are you delivering value?
  • Did they just take out a second mortgage and need to get a bonus at work?
  • Do they need to land the deal as much as you?
  • Do you view them as a vendor?
  • Is there mutual respect and equity between you?

It sounds straightforward, but actively focusing on these different perceptions and putting them into action is difficult. What else can help you change your point of view and give you deeper insight into the other person? Physical positioning.

The magic of changing your physical positioning

If anyone has studied neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Joe shares that there’s a trick you can use called perceptual positions. In every situation, if you change your physical position to think about the other person, it helps you be more empathetic.

Joe will physically place “x’s” on the floor in his office and move to them to pretend what it’s like to be the other person, walk into their company, and what life is like in their role. Then he will look back at his position from their lens to perceive how he appears. When you physically move and change position, you put yourself in a different mindset. It helps you develop a new position and new way of thinking. Chemically, your synapses fire differently, and different parts of your brain are activated.

Joe does this in advance of meetings. He also practices it when he gives speeches. If Joe is speaking in a venue where he will be facing east, he’ll develop his position, so he’s facing east when practicing. He does this to get as close to the actual environment as possible. He prints photos of what the venue will look like, so he’s practicing to where his audience will be. He does this until he feels comfortable.

Recognizing non-assertion signs to respond accordingly

Sellers and negotiators have to be able to read a room. Once you’re in the negotiation, you’re telling something to people. Most people nod, right? Nodding is a non-assertion sign. Most people see someone nodding and think, “Oh, they get what I’m saying.” While this can be true, it may also mean that someone isn’t engaged or isn’t connecting with what you’ve said. But you need people to be engaged. It’s important to pace yourself and have pre-planned questions to encourage engagement and clarity.

You can say something like, “Is this going down the path that we intended it to?” It puts the focus back on them. You want to make sure what you’re saying is resonating and hitting on what they truly value. Shut up and listen to what they say. Encourage them to bring up objections. You want to know what they hate about you, your company, your solution, etc. Until you get those cues, you rarely know what’s going on in the other person.

The other non-assertion sign that you may see when you’re in a negotiation is people moving their lips when you’re talking. When people are doing that, they’re mouthing the thing that they’re about to say. It means the person isn’t listening to you but thinking about the next thing they want to ask you or say. If you notice this, stop.

Instead of continuing on the path you were on, repeat what someone said and ask if you heard them correctly. When they hear their words back, they may double back and say, “Oh, that’s not what I said.” You have to ask clarifying questions. You’re not trying to be a smart-ass. You want to understand the benefit to them and the impact it makes. If you’re curious and honest, they’ll tell you.

What are Joe’s other secrets to sales success? Learn more about the six different people in a negotiation in episode #268 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!