As a female negotiator, I believe that one of the main points of negotiating is to win the deal. Through my own company, Remodista, I cultivate women leaders across the globe, and one of the main takeaways that I have learned over the years is that female leaders should never be overlooked. Unfortunately, there is certainly still stigma surrounding women — and rumors that we’re not great negotiators, especially in the workplace. Susannah Breslin’s Why Men Are Better Negotiators Than Women argues that men succeed in negotiating because they are better liars, don’t feel as guilty, and know how to intimidate.
Frankly, I disagree with that. While I do agree that it’s necessary to be tough and thorough when negotiating, I do not believe that you need to intimidate others to get there. In fact, women tend to be better negotiators than men because they are more thoughtful; they are active listeners and are able to show more of an open-mind. They can also utilize their empathetic side, come off as more relatable, and using those skill sets they get the job done. If you’re a woman who wants to become better at negotiating, don’t reject your natural tendencies; embrace them. And in the meantime? Follow a few basic steps to get the most out of your negotiations.
Listen: Listening is key in any negotiation; you have to understand the other side before you can deliver a winning idea. Listening is not a position of weakness; rather, it’s a great tool to ensure that you fully understand the goals and concepts that the person you are meeting with is trying to deliver. When listening, be sure to use your best assets as well, such as taking notes either written or via your laptop. You can even record the conversation as well to ensure you understood the goals of the meeting. Refrain from asking questions until the other person is done speaking. When you do have your questions, make sure you’ve fully thought out what you want to ask, and ask them with confidence.
Be Passionate: If you believe in what you are selling, then so will others. Yes, it helps to have research to back up you’re thoughts, but truly believing in the power of what you are selling helps in any negotiation or partnership deal. Have that passion at every level, from the 20-minute sell to the thirty second elevator pitch. That elevator pitch is also incredibly important; it should be a short overview of your business, product, or service. Ideally this elevator pitch should be under one minute. Explain who you are and what is unique about you or the service you are selling — that unique differentiator is key in any meeting or negotiation.
Use Confident Body Language: Body language is essential for any meeting. Have a power pose. This is a stance you make with your body that exudes confidence. Hold your posture with confidence, and stand up straight. When you walk into a room keep your head held high. When spoken to, make sure you are speaking loud enough and clear enough. Don’t fidget. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you during a meeting or presentation. If you need to keep something in your hand to keep from moving them around, use note cards, or a copy of your presentation. Slow down when speaking, and make sure to give eye contact. Practice your presentation in front of a friend, and ask for feedback. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be, and that will make a huge difference.
Have an Action Plan: When presenting or selling, you always need a call to action. That can be a well-thought out proposal with an execution plan, or simply clearly explaining the next steps. Take the time to set up a follow-up meeting to review your action plan, and ensure that everybody is on board. It is imperative that you also have case studies and examples of your successes; that will motivate your listener to action. Explain the return on investment, and the many benefits of your proposal. Lastly, make sure to get all plans in writing so that there is no confusion on what each party will be receiving and gaining.
There are obviously many, many sales tactics to tap into when selling a service, product, or even yourself to investors or potential customers, so it’s important to find out what works for you. I truly believe that every woman has the power to be an amazing negotiator, and continue to succeed in this male-dominated business world. If you follow these best practices, I can guarantee that you will be closing deals in no time!