Happy New Year to everyone. Have any of you made resolutions? Broken them yet? On a personal level I’ve made two very firm resolutions: I’m going to increase my fitness levels to the stage where I can run a marathon (not crawl a 10K like 2010) and I’m going to be more direct about what I want from life, no more compromise. On a professional level I’ve resolved to increase my sales contribution to our business by €5K per month. This achievable and realistic resolution is one that I know I can keep, simply because it is achievable and realistic: The best way of keeping my resolution is to take some sensible steps to focus on sales, so I’ve broken it into tasks: I will keep a constant focus on prospecting and filling my pipeline, even when I’m busy with other projects I will contact and re-visit all my present and old clients over the year to make sure they’re still happy and to explore new opportunities I will take at least one action every single day to improve my sales, networking or personal skills I will manage my time effectively I will maintain a positive attitude and foster it in others I will help my customers to solve their problems, regardless of whether I have the solution or not Maybe some of these are things you could put in place too. I will also need to work on serving my customers better through effective negotiation. Getting value and a good deal have become the cornerstones of doing business in our more frugal world. Which means that we all have to become expert negotiators. Negotiation is no longer about the ‘old school’ adversarial power struggles nor the tired (not a typo) and tested ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine. Negotiation is about reaching a mutually beneficial solution, the win-win. Thing is, negotiation is rarely purely rational, there’s always some element of emotion involved so a rational approach is not enough. You need to negotiate with emotional intelligence. If you don’t understand the other person enough to know how to persuade them how can you possibly expect to succeed? Blind luck? If you don’t understand someone, the negotiation will either take forever or fail completely. You need to get inside the prospect’s head and understand how they think, what’s important to them, how this process makes them feel, what they want to achieve and how they want to feel at the end of the process. So how do you really understand someone else’s point of view? First and foremost you need to be able to empathise. The rest is about asking questions, information searching and good old fashioned conversations! Once you have made the connection you will find it much easier to get the deal. Ask about them, find out who they are. You need to be pathologically curious. If you don’t really care about them or a relationship, then you will get less because they will sense you are faking it. And that leaves a bitter taste-most of us have been on the receiving end of false interest. The key is to find something about them in which you are interested- be that a hobby, family, where they went to school, their favourite sport-the list is endless, there must be some common ground with which you can make a connection. Once you’re in that connected zone, once you know what the other person needs and values the next challenge is to identify the trade-off you need to make to close the deal. Selling is ultimately about the exchange of value so you need to reach a solution that will make you both feel like winners. BNI have it right when they say you give to gain. If you want something you have to give something, whether in business or your personal life. I’d love to hear about your new year’s resolutions, sales and negotiation tips. Go on share; it’s a new year after all.