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How to Negotiate Over the Phone

The idea of negotiating over the phone can be intimidating to those who have never done it before. There are, however, certain strategies and tactics that can make even the novice negotiator appear seasoned, well-prepared, and professional. When these methods are employed, the odds of striking a great deal exponentially increase. They can even leave the doors open to future negotiations, which can benefit both parties. Whether you're looking to get the best price on a car or simply want to barter, the following advice can give you the upper hand whenever you want to make a deal over the phone.

Prepare

For all but a few masters of the spoken word, impromptu negotiations often lead to raw deals. To be successful, you'll have to schedule an appointment with your prospect ahead of time and prepare for your phone call. If you have a say in when the call will take place, schedule it so that you have at least a few days to prepare. Give yourself a bit more time if you're new to negotiating. Gather your materials and research the other party. The goal is to have a working understanding of your subject matter and the person who has what you want. Getting primers on both will significantly increase your chances of walking away with a satisfactory deal. If you can, learn the art of vocal persuasion: Understand how your tone of voice, inflection, word choice, and even how fast you speak can influence how others perceive what you're saying.

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Strategize

All too often, those who want to negotiate over the phone pick up their receivers without a plan in mind. While it's true that a small portion of your call should be devoted to ice-breaking and friendly small talk, not having tangible goals to aim for can increase the potential for distraction and derailment. Consider what you want to achieve by the end of the phone call while you're preparing for it. Outline these goals and do your best to hit on all of your pertinent points while in the midst of negotiation. These milestones will help you steer the conversation. They'll also aid you in keeping momentum toward a deal. If you expect to engage in more than one call for negotiation purposes, don't give the other party reason to believe that negotiations have stalled. End a current negotiation call with reasons why the other party will want to continue bargaining with you. Some businesses, like those in the automobile industry, might make use of specific negotiation tactics and jargon. To better your chances at coming to a fair agreement, research the industry in which you want to wheel and deal.

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Be Active, Not Passive

During your call, keep a list of questions or issues handy. Refer to the list as your call progresses to make sure that you cover as much negotiating ground as possible. Make use of the time spent listening to the other party by jotting down relevant notes regarding reactions, tone of voice, and significant words chosen. A quick glance at your notes will give you a clear idea of how negotiations are going at any point during the conversation. Get clarification on issues as soon as they arise to avoid misunderstandings. If your phone call is a general meet-and-greet, consider writing down your thoughts after the call so as to give the other party your full and undivided attention. Ask questions and be engaging. While jokes are not appropriate for every negotiating session, a friendly and open disposition can do wonders when building rapport.

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Follow Up

After your phone call has ended and you've left a great impression, cement it by following up using a different medium. In today's world, emailing is the quickest and easiest way to stay connected with your contacts, and it can also be the perfect way to keep in touch with your prospect. Don't leave any verbal stone unturned. Go over key issues discussed during the phone call and codify commitments that your prospect made. If you have another phone call to look forward to, it can be prudent to note future points you'd like to discuss. A simple and strategic email can remind your prospect of great deals that you're offering and also keep your personality fresh in their mind.

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