How did you learn to negotiate?

Myers Barnes new home sales negotiationI’ve asked this simple question at many new home sales training sessions and seminars. “How did you learn to negotiate?” Then I ask the group to raise their hands if they’ve ever trained in negotiating skills. Have you ever read a book on the subject, taken a workshop, watched a webinar…anything at all?

The crowd is quiet and only a few hands are raised.

It’s astounding that anyone who makes a living in sales has not invested in the most essential skill required to succeed.

Right now, we’re coming off the hottest housing market in more than 50 years. Negotiation wasn’t essential for the past two years. Buyers were so ignited by the low interest rates that they were ready and willing to buy—even paying over the asking price!

That’s no longer the case. Buyers are not flocking to your website or model home. Leads have dwindled. More than ever, a new home sales professional needs sharp negotiation skills. They need to know how to manage objections, how to control a conversation, and how to reach a mutually agreeable outcome. What I’m seeing, however, is a lot of new home sales professionals who joined the industry in the past few years. They never received training on negotiation skills and they aren’t prepared to handle the downturn in the housing market. There’s a deer-in-the-headlights expression spanning faces in model homes across the country.

Faced with a prospect who thinks the price is too high, these newbies “negotiate” by offering a discount. Cutting into the builder’s margin isn’t a healthy strategy for long-term success.

When a buyer expresses that they’re not ready, these new home sales professionals are so unskilled in negotiation that they let the prospects walk away.

I’ve been told by an occasional builder that training is too expensive. 

My reply is, “Training isn’t expensive. Ignorance is expensive.”

That has never been more true!

If you’re not putting time and energy into teaching your new home sales professionals how to negotiate successfully, you’re not leading them. A course in negotiation should be required of every salesperson, no matter their experience. It’s a skill that can never be sharp enough.

Author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your LIfe Depended On It, Chris Voss said, “Successful negotiation is not about getting to ‘yes’’ it’s about mastering ‘no’ and understanding what the path to agreement is.”

Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, also explained the importance of understanding the needs of the person you’re trying to influence. “The moment you’ve convinced someone that you truly understand her dreams and feelings, mental and behavioral change becomes possible, and the foundation for a breakthrough has been laid.”

Negotiation is both an art and a science. You can invest in mastering it or shoot from the hip and hope you hit something. When your career is on the line, which one do you choose?

If you want to become the person who controls the conversation, learn to negotiate. When you’re ready to move ahead on that objective, let’s talk

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