Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills

November 10, 2014

If you want to become a better negotiator, the key is to connect before you convince, said sales coach Ed Hatch during a Saturday session, "Honing Your Negotiating Edge," at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Hatch told attendees the secrets to gaining the edge in real estate negotiations, whether it be for negotiating a sales price or closing points or even negotiating with buyers and sellers on your commission. The number one mistake in negotiations is that real estate professionals try to negotiate before they have built up trust with the other side, which often is doomed for failure with the other party either misconstruing your message or disregarding it completely.

To get them to listen to your side, move away from confrontation to showing cooperation so you can get the "yes" you want in the end, said Hatch, president of Ed Hatch Seminars in Gambrills, Md., and a senior instructor for the Council of Residential Specialists. You won't be able to convince the other party of your side in a negotiation if you don't show them you fully understand their side first, Hatch said. Actively listen and acknowledge the other side's feelings, without passing judgment. Also, every three to five minutes, stop to paraphrase what you heard them say to make them feel understood.

Hatch also stressed that successful negotiations need to be done face-to-face, not over e-mail. If you can't get face-to-face, he suggested using video conferencing like Skype or Face Time so you can gauge their reactions to what you say.

To gain greater rapport, Hatch said that people tend to like others who are like them. Look for signs of the other party's personality type so you can match their behavior for greater success in persuasion. One way: Watch their eyes, Hatch said. The eyes can be a window to how the other person sorts and processes information—useful information for you in tweaking your presentation for greatest impact. For example, when you ask the other person a question, if his eyes look up, the person may do better processing information more visually; eyes that flick to the left to right could be signs of an auditory or more verbal processor; and eyes down to the ground or to the right could be indication of a kinesthetic processor, one who processes through feelings.

To dig deeper into how the person would want to be treated in negotiation interactions, take careful note of their reactions in your conversation too. For example, "driver clients" (those who tend to be cool/guarded and direct personalities) prefer just the bottom-line results in presentations; contemplative people (those who fall on a cool/compliant but tend to be indirect personalities) tend to be indecisive and often need lots of information, like charts and graphs, to be influenced; "social" people (those who tend to be indirect and warm/open) will do business and be persuaded by you if they like you; and the "influential" types (who are direct but warm and friendly) often want to reach their own conclusions and process the information themselves.

"In negotiation situations, you have to first move into the position of them trusting you," Hatch said. "If you cannot connect, you cannot convince."

—Melissa Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine