Your negotiation journey - part four: be the host

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Constantin Papadopoulos is a freelance B2B marketing & sales consultant.

The following nine techniques/skills will improve the outcome of your negotiations. While these techniques are simple and effective, your negotiation success will come from applying them regularly. The best part of these techniques is that you can use them in your daily life. So let's review the fourth technique:

Be the host

Hosting a negotiation

Igor Ryzov describes precisely what hosting a negotiation stands for. The following quotes helped me to understand the importance of being the one who listens. 

“The first roles assigned in any negotiation are those of the “host” and the “the guest”. The “host” is the one who asks questions; the “guest” is the one who answers them. The negotiator listens. Then they ask questions. In doing so, they can steer the conversation as their own interest dictates. Negotiators who find themselves listened to and asked questions will often take the bait and talk more; offer more.”

Can I really play the host?

The first objection I receive when I talk to partners about playing the host is: How can I play the host? I'm the one asking for their time, their money, their distribution network, their customer base, etc. Well if you're asking for a favor, then do it properly, and put yourself on one knee. Joke aside, we are in the business of delivering value to our customers, to our partners, and to society as a whole. The perceived value you bring to the table is the reason why the other party is actually willing to seat at the negotiation table with you. If they are seating with you, they perceive value from talking to you, don't disappoint them!

Indicators of being the host

  1. You are in control of the time - your counterpart has no time for you, reschedule, even if you traveled. Your time has value.

  2. You have shielded yourself from need and fear - you are coming to the negotiation table with an open mind. It is ok if your counterpart does not need your service or product at your price level.

  3. You are patient and listening - you are talking calmly and not rushing the conversation. You listen to what your counterpart has to say. They are carrying valuable information with them.

  4. Your counterpart is revealing information, not you. You take your time while distilling information. Before conceding additional value, you ask for a counter-offer.

Hosting techniques

  • Be confident and believe your cause - be convinced about your value

  • Adopt a comfortable position - comfortable does not equal overconfident

  • Politeness - a true host remains calm and polite in all situation, especially when it gets heated

  • Ask questions - questioning techniques shift the focus to your counterpart

  • Take time in answering questions - Do not rush and if you are uncertain ask for additional time

  • Stay in control of what you say. As the old saying goes: it's better to be the master of one's silence, than a prisoner of one's words

Remember that“You must fight for the role of “host”. This is crucial. If you feel you’re being asked more questions than strictly necessary, know that with every question asked you are being drawn further from your goal. So you must break this chain and seize back the initiative through counter questions. After answering a question, always ask your opponent a counter-question.” 

When the negotiators spend too much time answering questions, not only are they giving information away but most importantly as they are focused on the first awareness level, and Black Swans* missed. Do you understand now, why job interviews are scripted by the employer and not the candidate? Now that you know why being the host is so crucial, get ready to start with no!

*Black swans are key information that helps unlock negotiation.

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