You have a Zoom video negotiation scheduled with a potential new customer. You bid the job a month ago, and you’re a finalist. You wanted to fly to New York to meet in person, but you would have been quarantined as the virus recently spiked in your state. Zoom video is your next best option.
How can you maximize the likelihood of negotiating and closing your best possible deal?
Last month I wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of online video negotiations. I’m not a big fan. But sometimes you have little choice. So the question then becomes – how should you do it?
Here are some do’s and don’ts for Zoom negotiations. Also be sure to check out the video below or this page for more resources on this topic.
Do’s of Zoom Negotiations
1. Take Steps to Build Rapport and Relationships
It’s really easy to jump right in and tackle the substantive issues when your counterpart’s face appears. Don’t. If the negotiation were in person, you would almost certainly start with some rapport-building and explore ways to personally connect.
This relationship-building based on mutual interests is crucial. It’s also based on longstanding research into what bestselling author and social psychologist Robert Cialdini calls “The Liking Principle” in his classic Influence: Science and Practice. Basically, this principle means people are more likely to share information, including critical negotiation-related information, if they like you.
Don’t underestimate this power – so take steps at the beginning of video negotiations for small talk and to explore common interests. Perhaps even jump onto the call early to do so.
2. Be More Transparent and Explore Mutual Interests
One problem with video negotiations relates to our tendency to be more positional and our reluctance to be open in that environment. This is natural given the anxiety, stress and miscommunication these calls create (per the New York Times article I cited last month).
The solution? Be more transparent and strategic about exploring mutual interests. This doesn’t mean that you share everything. But when you list your possible interests and consider what to share, err on the side of sharing.
3. Schedule Brainstorming to Foster Creative Solutions
Brainstorming with your counterparts is a tried-and-true way to explore creative options that satisfy both parties’ interests. We recently had to replace our roof. So we bid it out and selected a roofer with a great reputation who bid it at a good price and then dropped it to almost match the low bidder. Importantly, he was known for going above and beyond in satisfying his customers’ needs.
It’s a good thing, too, as on the first day his crew mistakenly demoed a part of our roof that was not scheduled to be replaced. What did we do? We brainstormed options that might satisfy our mutual interests and reached a solution in which the owner replaced that section at basically cost. He didn’t take a loss by just fixing that section, and we got a brand-new roof over that part of our house.
It’s hard to do this over video. But it’s crucial.
4. Cut some slack on non-verbal signals like eye contact, etc.
As noted last month, video carries an increased risk of miscommunication and mistrust because we can’t look each other in the eye and accurately interpret facial cues and expressions and body language.
To counter this, cut your online counterparts some slack. And if there’s a miscommunication, initially chalk it up to the online environment and not some conscious effort to mislead.
Dont’s of Zoom Negotiations
1. Be more relaxed on video than in person
Just because you’re sitting in front of your computer does not mean you should negotiate with a more cavalier attitude. Be just as strategic in your online negotiations as in person.
Prepare as if you were negotiating face-to-face, with the extra considerations noted here.
2. Check emails or texts while online
You would never check your emails or texts during an in person negotiation. Don’t do it online either. Eliminate other possible distractions too – like your dog coming into your home office. We all know this happens. It’s not helpful.
3. Eliminate the LIVE video
We now expect to see a live face when a Zoom invite gets accepted. Prepare for it. Don’t reject the video, as your rejection will likely be perceived as a slight. You may not intend it, but one on video without the other creates an unnatural feeling. That’s a problem.
Latz’s Lesson: Do use Zoom to negotiate when appropriate – but don’t do it off-the-cuff. Instead, use video negotiation best practices.
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Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation, a national negotiation training and consulting company that helps individuals and organizations achieve better results with best practices based on the experts’ research. He also has two bestselling books Gain the Edge! and The Real Trump Deal: An eye-opening Look at How He Really Negotiates. He can be reached at 480.951.3222 or Marty@LatzNegotiation.com.