While real estate professionals constantly negotiate, many still suffer from a fear or reluctance to negotiate. A new book, "The One Minute Negotiator," outlines the steps you need to overcome your "Negotiaphobia."
Authors Don Hutson and George H. Lucas describe a problem that plagues a considerable proportion of the sales population: Negotiaphobia. According to their research, if you’re a "negotiaphobe," or afraid of negotiating, the probability of achieving a successful outcome to your negotiation situation is about 20 percent.
Hutson and Lucas argue that people fear negotiation for three reasons: they lack skill, they misunderstand the process, and they have a desire to avoid conflict. To improve your negotiation skills, the authors suggest a simple four-step model, dubbed "EASY," to help negotiators achieve better outcomes.
For example, assume that you have a listing that has been sitting on the market for months and the sellers refuse to lower the price. You receive the dreaded phone call, during which the seller demands, "You have to start holding more open houses to get this property sold. My husband and I also talked it over and we want you to run an ad in the classified section of the newspaper every weekend."
The first step in the EASY process is to recognize that you are in a negotiation situation and you should be prepared to engage in a negotiation.
The second step is to determine your preferred negotiation style as well as identifying the style your clients are using.
The Assessment Grid
Hutson and Lucas use a 2-by-2 grid based upon activation and cooperation. This results in four types of negotiation styles: avoidance, accommodation, competition, and collaboration. While no one style works best in every situation, being able to quickly identify your preferred tendency as well of that of your client will allow you to achieve more successful outcomes.
One of the most common tactics is avoidance. In the example above, you duck the seller’s phone calls or refuse to confront them on the issue. People who use avoidance are in a situation where they are reactive and have low cooperation. When you ignore the problem, in most cases the situation escalates rather than improving. Sticking your head in the sand seldom achieves a favorable result.
Like avoidance, accommodation is a reactive strategy, but it is coupled with cooperation. When you accommodate, you simply give in to the sellers’ request and run the ads and do the open houses. There is no actual negotiation since you failed to do anything to support your position. Rather than building your relationship, all accommodation does is allow you to determine whether your clients will attempt to take advantage of you.
When you have two strong negotiators, you often see competition. This is the win-lose game. When someone is competitive, they are proactively supporting their position but they are not cooperative. They view the negotiation as a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie and they’re going to compete for as much as they can take.
In the example above, the agent might say, "No, we’re not doing any additional open houses nor are we going to do any classified advertising. Our tracking indicates that your property has been viewed 686 times online during the last month. We have only had two showings. The real issue is not the marketing — it’s the price."
Here, the agent is only willing to accept his position. There’s no attempt to include anything the seller wants.
The agent who negotiates collaboratively creates a win-win for both parties. According to Hutson and Lucas, only about 20 percent of most salespeople can negotiate collaboratively. Using the example above, a collaborative response would be:
"We have had 686 views of your listing online during the last month and only two showings. What if we did the following: You reduce the price, we take entirely new pictures of the property, and then do a big push online and offline to get more showings?
"The new price and the new pictures will make your property look like a new listing. We will hold an open house, advertise it in print that first weekend, plus continuing with the Web marketing. Is that a strategy that works for you?"
This approach incorporates what the sellers want as well as what the agent believes will be necessary to get the property sold. It’s a win for both.
The third step in the EASY model is to select the correct strategy for the situation. Once you have recognized that you are in a negotiation and recognize how your style fits with your clients’ style, the next step is to determine what strategy will work best.
For example, if you are collaborative and the other party is competitive, you are very likely to give in to their demands. To cope with competitive types, you must answer in a competitive style.
Once you have done that, there’s a good chance the other party may move from being competitive to being collaborative. This won’t occur, however, if you approach the person collaboratively. Thus, you need to not only select a style — you must also monitor and adjust your strategy as you go through the process.
The final step in the EASY model is "Your one-minute drill." The three preceding steps can all be completed in less than a minute.
To improve your negotiation results, get in the habit of immediately recognizing when you’re in a negotiation, determining whether you need to be collaborative or competitive, and then implement your strategy.