People negotiate differently – and behave differently – during the negotiation process. We can observe different styles of negotiation and how different types of behavior can affect the outcome of negotiations.
In commercial negotiations, some people negotiate quickly and take risks; others take their time and try to avoid risk. Some buyers are very loyal, others will automatically shop around. Some negotiators can be quite intimidating – to the point of being rude; others are quite passive and easily manipulated.
This makes selling and negotiating a real challenge. To negotiate with all these different buyer types, we need to be able to adapt our behavior and be flexible in our approach.
To begin this process, we can look at two aspects of buyer behavior – assertiveness and responsiveness.
People who are assertive are confident and know what they want. They are not afraid to put forward opinions and are willing to listen to the opinions of others. They are not afraid of conflict and will be more than happy to argue their case.
People who are highly assertive can be seen as being aggressive, while people who lack assertiveness are often passive and get taken advantage of. There are times when it is appropriate to be more or less assertive and we need to recognize when these times are.
Responsiveness means the extent to which people are willing to respond to us and our questions. Some people are highly responsive and will give lots of information about themselves, their problems and needs. Others are unwilling or unable to respond in this way and we see these people often as being negative or difficult.
We are all different – some of us are naturally assertive and some of us are not. Salespeople tend to be quite responsive, but sometimes we lack assertion. An example of this is during negotiations.
When customers put us under pressure to reduce prices or give discounts, we find it difficult and uncomfortable and worry about damaging the relationship with the buyer.
There are four basic styles of behavior and these are determined by the way in which people relate to one another.
How can you ensure that you approach people in the correct way?
“Knowing About Social Styles” developed by Merrill and Reid, is a theory which I have discussed in several of my articles and it is very useful to have a thorough understanding of it when negotiating. In the Social Styles Model there are four basic “styles”, or preferred ways of interacting with others.
Merrill and Reid believe that a person’s social style is a way of coping with others. People become most comfortable with that style, in themselves and others.
A person’s social style is measured in relation to three behavioral dimensions:
The Assertiveness Scale
Measures the degree to which a person is seen as attempting to influence the thoughts, decisions or actions of others, either directly by tell behavior or by questioning – i.e. ask behavior.
‘Tell’ behavior: Is risk-taking, fast-paced, challenging.
‘Ask’ behavior: Is co-operative, deliberate actions, minimizing risks.
The Responsiveness Scale
Measures the degree to which a person either openly expresses their feelings or controls their feelings. The ends of the scale are “control” and “emote”.
‘Control’ behavior: Is disciplined, serious and cool.
‘Emote’ behavior: Is relationship oriented, open and warm.
The two scales combine to give a two-dimensional model of behavior, which will help you to understand how others perceive you. The dimensions of behavior will also help you to plan how you can deal more effectively with people of different social styles.
The Four Social Styles And How You Should Negotiate With Them
Driver: The Director.
- Assertive, but not responsive
- Task, rather than people oriented
- Decisive and determined
- Controlled emotions
- Set on efficiency and effectiveness
- Likes control, often in a hurry
- Firm, stable relationships
- Stubborn, tough
- Inflexible, poor listener
To Negotiate With Drivers:
- Plan to ask questions about and discuss specifics, actions and results
- Use facts and logic
- When necessary, disagree with facts rather than opinions, be assertive
- Keep it business-like, efficient and to the point
- Personal guarantees and testimonials are least effective – better to
provide options and facts
- Do not invade personal space
Expressive: The Socializer
- Assertive and responsive
- Reactive, impulsive, decisions spontaneous, intuitive
- Placing more importance on relationships than tasks
- Emotionally expressive, sometimes dramatic
- Flexible agenda, short attention span, easily loved
- Strong persuasive skills, talkative and gregarious
- Optimistic, takes risks
To Negotiate With Expressives:
- Seek opinions in an area you wish to develop to achieve mutual understanding
- Discussion should be people, as well as fact, oriented
- Keep summarizing, work out specifics on points of agreement
- Try short, fast moving experience stories
- Make sure to pin them down in a friendly way
- Remember to discuss the future, as well as the present
- Look out for the impulse buy
Amiable: The Supporter
- Not assertive but responsive
- Dependent on others
- Respectful, willing and agreeable
- Emotionally expressive
- Everyone’s friend, supportive, soft-hearted
- Low risk taker, likes security
- Group builder
- Not goal orientated
To Negotiate With Amiables:
- Work, jointly, seek common ground
- Find out about personal interests and family
- Be patient and avoid going for what looks like an easy pushover
- Use personal assurance and specific guarantees and avoid options and probabilities
- Take time to be agreeable
- Focus discussion on how
- Demonstrate low risk solutions
- Don’t take advantage of their good nature
Analytical: The Clinician
- Not assertive, not responsive
- Precise, orderly and business-like
- Rational and co-operative
- Self-controlled and serious
- Motivated by logic and facts
- Not quick to make decisions
- Distrusts persuasive people
- Like things in writing and detail
- Security conscious
- Critical, aloof, skeptical
- Excellent problem solver
- Likes rigid timetables
To Negotiate With Analyticals:
- Take action rather than words to demonstrate helpfulness and willingness
- Stick to specifics. Analyticals expect salesmen to overstate
- Their decisions are based on facts and logic and they avoid risk
- They can often be very co-operative, but established relationships take time
- Consider telling them what the product won’t do. they will respect you for it and they will have spotted the deficiencies anyway
- Discuss reasons and ask ‘why’ questions
- Become less responsive and less assertive yourself
If you are serious about developing not just your negotiation skills, but also your all-round communication skills, I do advise you to familiarize yourself with the “Social Styles” model.