Never Split the Difference – a fresh look at negotiating

Never split diff book coverWhether it’s negotiating a big deal or just being a better communicator, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss will change your communication mind set. If you have not read this book, read it now.

Chris takes his skills learnt in negotiating high stake kidnapping cases and applies them to the business world in this insightful book. Right off the bat he tables the concept that meeting in the middle is just plain wrong, he gives a great example: you want to wear brown shoes, your partner says black – meeting in the middle would be one brown shoe one black. Forget “fair” give yourself a new rule set.

My top 10 takeaways from the book:

  1. Become a power listener – don’t over prepare for a negotiation, go in with a hypothesis and then ask open questions to validate and adapt your understanding of the client – active listening on steroids.
  2. Use empathetic language – re-frame using “labels” that describe your perception of their reality or emotions.
  3. Slow down, aim on taking at least 3 visits to close a big deal – build true empathy and understanding of your counterpart, uncover what you don’t know, you don’t know before attempting to close. Play with chasing NO’s, rather than the YES’s we have all been traditionally taught to seek.
  4. Negotiate face to face – no matter if it’s on the other side of the world remember words only account for 5% of a message, body language and tone convey the rest.
  5. Defuse your counterpart with positive affirmation of your worst flaws at the beginning of negotiation – Chris calls this an “accusation audit”.
  6. Bend reality in price – be prepared for extreme offers, experienced negotiators will often begin with a ridiculous offer and use it as an extreme anchor. “Lets put price aside for a moment and talk about what would make this a good deal”. Likewise find out what would make your offer work for them with other non-price variables. He gives a great example of a ransom demand of $150,000 being paid off with $5,000 because in reality the kidnappers wanted to have a party.  Like wise, when you are purchasing don’t shy away from making the extreme offer and even say “this is an extreme offer, but didn’t want you to miss out on working with us”. Suppliers will bite for fear of letting a competitor get in.
  7. A bad deal is worse than no deal – know when to walk away. Don’t make closing a deal your goal.
  8. Deadlines rarely are hard deadlines don’t get sucked in.
  9. Build a list of non-cash offers to help counter price discussions.
  10. Build a repertoire of power questions, statements (see below)…

Power statements and questions:

Below are some of Chris’s key questions, statements that create great rapport and help you discovery the real negotiating gems…. Noting the language never implies you “know”. The book is fill of many more of these these great tips.

  • It’s sounds like you think that…
  • It seems like …. is valuable to you
  • Its seems like you value…
  • Its seems like ….makes it easier
  • It seems like you’re reluctant to …
  • It looks like…

How or What Questions will help you reveal the value to you and your counterpart, as well as identifying and overcoming deal killers:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How is that worthwhile?
  • What’s the core issue here?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face?
  • How does this fit inti what the objective is?
  • What Are we up against here?
  • How does making a deal with us affect things
  • What happens if you do nothing?
  • What does doing nothing cost you?
  • Does making this deal resonate with what your company prides itself on?
  • What about this doesn’t work for you?
  • What would you need to make this work?
  • It seems there’s something here that bothers you?

Identify deal killers:

  • How does this effect the rest of your team?
  • How on board are the people not on the call?
  • What do your colleagues see as the main challenges in this area?

In preparing this blog post I have realised this book is worth reading at least twice, it has so much to give.  

Chris Voss has a wealth of information and free downloads on his website https://www.blackswanltd.com/

Summer holidays are looming up quick, so get your own copy of this book to read on the beach twice. I will be reading it again over the break, it was so good I couldn’t wait to  share the power of this book.

PS:  Apologies for the massive gap in my blog posts, I have been full on, aiding a bunch businesses transition some growth hurdles. I am now in some clear air, in fact I am  currently (Nov 2019) looking for my next challenge / assignment(s) in either the Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions, so if you would like a hand helping transform your business drop me an email.

 

 

 

 

Finding New Strategic Opportunities

 Take yourself out of your business and explore the industry view

 We all suffer tunnel vision when it comes to running our businesses. Even worse, when it comes to finding time to do some true “blue oceans” strategic thinking.

Too often our thinking is constrained by looking at our world from our own perspective rather than that of the customers and the industry eco-system we exist in.

We all got a great reminder of this when Kodak got into major financial trouble in Jan 2012. How could such a giant with 1000+ patents in digital photography screw it up so bad.  My take, they failed to adapt the culture (attitude) of the business to the new value chain and eco-system that emerged into the new digital age.

Real Strategy

Strategy is most probably the most miss used word in business. Strategy is about understanding the lie of the land, understanding the geography you are about to do battle in, assessing the enemies strengths and weaknesses looking for gaps and opportunities to capture a market.  Its not about what to do every day operating your business – alah business planning and execution.

Mine your external value chain for opportunities

If you are looking for investment, market or channel partners the best place to start is looking at your customers and end users. Then map all of their suppliers, customers and their influencers out on a huge mind mapped value chain. Documenting suppliers, to suppliers, to customers and so on. By reviewing all the players on this map e.g. who holds the power of influence, who owns critical scarce resources and who is making the profit etc you will uncover a raft of possibilities.

Include in your thinking competitors as well, most NZ business shy away from conversations with their competitors let alone doing deals with them to collaborate in the global marketplace.

Look for market trends that will uncover future change in your industry

Take the time to look for current trends across your complete value chain so you can spot hot spots or market opportunities to take advantage of.

 Business Dominoes – Strategic Development Programme

If you are after some fresh thinking around how to handle some major strategic decisions for your business and avoid being blind-sided by some giant guerrillas in the market I would suggest attending the Business Dominoes Programme. It’s a 4 day intensive boot camp, where you will be armed with and use a variety of tools to aid you strategic thought processes, make decisions and chart a lower risk path to success.

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Free Entry to MyBizExpo:

The My Biz Expo is running from 14-16 October, ASB show grounds, Auckland.  Business Dominoes will be on stand 2023Register online now at www.mybizexpo.co.nz and save yourself the $20 entry fee.

 Free 1 hr Seminar at Biz Expo – Tuesday 16th  Oct – 1pm
Funding Business Growth  – Tools and strategies to build a scalable business
Presenter Business Dominoes – Mark Robotham

7 Ways to Stop Wasting Time

Is your business focused on your Value Proposition?

How much of your business activity is focused around adding value to your clients – i.e delivering your value proposition. The base logic behind  Kaizen is removing waste, while optimising value to your clients.

Prior to commencing the valuable process of eliminating waste I suggest getting great clarity around your core value proposition and what target market you are taking on as well as your strategy to maximise it.

Kaizen or “Lean” has been popular in large business for some years now. Most of the evangelists like John Cook from Stainless Design in Waikato all come from the larger end of SME or big corporates.   After attending an inspirational seminar with Julie Hazelhurst (Kaizen guru), she has got me thinking about the implications of this thinking to the smaller end of SME.

Waste (Muda) comes in 7 forms

  • Motion – people movement, searching
  • Waiting – stalled customer processes
  • Transport – Information and material
  • Storage – Information and material
  • Defects – rework
  • Over producing – doing more than client pays for
  • Over processing – over engineering, more precision

Julie’s premise was “if you’re running short on time and money in your business perhaps you should tackle your waste first and maximise the value out of your talent in your team, before looking at taking on more staff”. She took us through the basic process of mapping your internal value chain and observing the “waste” processes  typically interleaved with the activities that your client values.

Its interesting that in Business Dominoes we use a similar focus on value chains to spot new market opportunities and strategic alliance partners outside the business, where Kaizen uses the internal value chain to focus process improvement.

7 common waste areas that I continually see SME’s wasting time on:

  1. Potential & current clients not in your target market Get clear about what is and isn’t an ideal profitable customer. Create a bullet list of their characteristics : eg revenue, location, ability to “get” your value etc
  2. Distractions of activities off “piste” Get clear about your business competencies and larger goals, then “stick to your knitting”. Too many businesses never achieve anything because their visionary leader is always chasing the next big idea. Put some structure around your business and then say NO to stuff that will not achieve your goal.
  3. Poor performing staff. Failure to deal with non performing staff will scare off the bets performers. Despite the hassles of our employment law – act now.
  4. Over engineering products and services, rather than selling Get the balance between engineering and marketing spend right. Know when you have that minimum viable product and then go sell, sell, sell. Craftsmen are never satisfied and continue to tinker with the machine when they should be bringing in revenue. If you have zero sales stop everything and validate your market before progressing.
  5. False economy of not having or having  a low performing professional service providers  Get some great outside help to challenge you on your big decisions and to have a shoulder to cry on as well as celebrate success with. If you have zero budget start with a fellow entrepreneur and meet them for a coffee once a fortnight.
  6. Inefficient accounting systems If you are not using auto bank feeds to avoid entering transactions – try Xero with bank feeds –use bank accounts that auto feed transactions into your accounting system -link your credit card as well. Learn how to do your own GST return, it takes minutes and you get a  great check point on your business.
  7. Outdated IT systems If technology is not helping your business you are doing it wrong – get a new IT supplier.  If you have less than 50 staff throw out your email server and replace it with office 365 (a great cloud computing service). Share electronic contacts and calendars around your organisation and embrace smartphone technology.

What’s your biggest area of waste?

Add a comment below with the big saving areas that you have made in your business.

Good planning = Asking the right questions (Bisvision Toolkit)

“A clever man gives the right answers” … “A wise man asks the right questions”

One of the big conundrums facing business leaders is what they don’t know, they don’t know.  Damian D’Cruz  has gone a long way to helping business people ask the right questions with his business planning tool kit called BisVision.

This great kit uses 5 decks of cards to ask probing questions around SWOT’s, Vision, Planning, and Execution.  You can use the kit to take you through a structured planning approach.

I have used the kit for a number of years and have found it great in its simplest use of – “what have I not considered in developing my business plan?”

Damian has produced two versions of the kit one for Businesses and one for the Not-For-Profit sector.

Asking the Right Questions

The opening quote, regarding asking the right questions, is so true. I have now come to the belief that any professional service provider can best be measured by the quality of those questions.  As a consultant myself, I have realised it is not the tools we use, but the way in which we use the tools that produces the best result. 

“I can give you the paint brush, but it will not make you an artist”. It’s on this basis I believe that by passing on as many tools and techniques I can, I will help people, but if they want true art give me a call 🙂 Happy reading.

For those who like DiY planning, this kit will be invaluable. Support this local company and  purchase it on the Bisvision Website