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Whip Mix Insights: The 5 Rules of Negotiation

I recently sat in on a presentation given by Jack Kaine with a local group of entrepreneurs discussing “Mastering the Art of Negotiating.” As he covered some key points I immediately thought of several conversations that I have had with dental lab owners expressing how they have had to lower their price to keep up with the competition and the struggle to build loyal relationships. I wanted to share some key takeaways to consider when developing a relationship strategy through negotiation.

We may not realize it, but our lives and careers are affected by how well we negotiate. We negotiate all the time, both on the job and in our personal lives. Anytime two or more people are exchanging information with the intent of changing the relationship, they are negotiating. Some may view negotiation as a win/lose situation, but the ultimate goal for both parties is a win/win outcome. Many of us, including myself, have a tendency to talk about our products and services as the other party listens, sometimes boring them with facts and fluff that they find uninteresting. This generally leads to a less than desirable outcome. The key to having control of the negotiation is not by talking – but by asking questions. Always find their needs before you start “selling” them on your goods and/or services. Once you ask those questions you have set the tone of your conversation to first educate, then negotiate.

The 5 rules of negotiation:
  1. The person who speaks first sets the tone for the negotiation. Don’t worry about getting the last word, worry about setting the tone. Your opening remarks must be scripted – yet natural. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  2. The person who asks the most questions determines the content and the direction of the negotiation. In a negotiation dumb is smart and smart is dumb. The dumbest questions are the ones that you don’t ask. Preparation is key – think of your questions before the negotiation. Asking questions means you care and listening means that you want to understand.
  3. Never argue. No one ever wins in an argument. Always question for understanding.
  4. People do things for their reasons not yours. When negotiating you must state their case better than they do. If you want people to see it your way, you must first see it their way.
  5. The person who listens the most will have the greatest effect on the outcome of the negotiation. Listen completely, evaluate and then respond.

When negotiating, keep in mind that there is always a better deal for all parties involved. Remember, there is tremendous strength in flexibility. Always make every negotiation you get into personal and positive! Here are some other things to consider when in a negotiation:

  • Consider finding meaningful ways to add value to your product or service, instead of cutting your prices.
  • Educate them as to why you are not a commodity.
  • Actively listen! This is a great way to respond to the other person to let them know that you heard and understand them – even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Be proud of your pricing. Never apologize for what you charge because what you charge says a lot about what you deliver.
  • If you are a quality leader, you get to set your prices. If you aren’t, the market sets the price for you.

In conclusion, always remember that integrity, trust and openness are necessary for the creation of a win/win outcome. Author and PhD Nabil N. Jamal once said:

“In a negotiation, we must find a solution that pleases everyone, because no one accepts that they MUST lose and that the other MUST win… Both MUST win!”

Sherri Weatherby

Sherri Weatherby is a Territory Sales Manager at Whip Mix. She focuses on sales efforts of the Whip Mix and Dental Technology Solutions products and services in the southern half of the United States. Sherri has over 25 years in the dental industry as a lab technician, retail, direct and manufacturing sales.