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How do I Learn Negotiation Skills?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated: Feb 29, 2024

Negotiation skills can be learned in many ways. Some people prefer to take courses or seminars in negotiation training, while others just want to read a few books or articles on the subject. There are online and in-person negotiation skills classes as well as workplace trainers who teach sales negotiating techniques.

The field of sales is known for being an area in which negotiation skills are crucial. If a company is too lenient in negotiating prices with clients, its loss in profits could soon become a major problem. Yet, if a business doesn't do any negotiating on price, it may easily be in danger of having too low of a client base in which to realize enough profit. A company may hire a sales negotiation specialist to help train staff in effective client negotiating techniques.

Seminars or training classes can be a good way for you to learn negotiating skills. You can take notes to remember valid points and helpful tips. A negotiation specialist may also supply handout sheets that summarize his or her main points. Some negotiation skills improvement classes are ongoing, while others may be a one-time workshop situation.

Online negotiation skills tutorials are usually designed to be learned quickly. These computer-based learning tutorials tend to be divided up into short units that begin with lessons such as "What exactly are negotiation skills?" and end with situational uses for each skill learned, such as "Negotiating over the telephone." DVDs, print books or e-books provide other ways to learn negotiation strategies.

Practicing your new-found negotiation tactics is a good way to find out if they work for you. Negotiation isn't only for the workplace, but it works to resolve problems in relationships and families as well. Most negotiation skills training encourages negotiators to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive. Being assertive means asking for what you want in a way that is neither too timid nor too bold.

Learning the different possible negotiating styles not only helps you find the ones that work for you, but also allows you to recognize the negotiation tactics of other people. In this way, you can better analyze your competition and learn to negotiate better deals. It's worth mentioning that having assertive negotiation skills still means staying in control of the negotiations. Reading and listening to a wide range of negotiation experts can help you reflect on the subject and learn to be a better negotiator.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Azuza — On Nov 10, 2011

I think most people could benefit from learning some good negotiation skills. However, I think this is especially true for women.

I read an article awhile ago that has a possible explanation for the wage gap between men and women in the United States: women are less prone to negotiating than men are.

Normally, during the interview process a man will try to negotiate or ask for a higher salary. Women usually don't! So I think women need to learn some negotiation skills so maybe we can close that wage gap!

By sunnySkys — On Nov 09, 2011

@indemnifyme - That's true of sales as well. When I did sales training for a job, we actually practiced on each other and over the phone with a class in another state. It really helped!

I think the best way to learn negotiation skills is definitely in person at a negotiation skills course or a seminar. However, if you can't do that, online videos are an okay substitute.

When my boyfriend was interviewing for a new job, we found a few videos online that really helped him with the salary negotiation part of it. He didn't have time to run out and take a class, so the Internet was a good alternative.

By indemnifyme — On Nov 08, 2011

I think the most important part of learning negotiation skills is actually practicing with another person. Practice makes perfect, and just reading about negotiation isn't as effective.

I went to a negotiation skills workshop for my old job, and that was one of the things they really stressed. Every time they introduced a new concept, we could break into pairs and practice actually saying the words.

I think it really helped, because when I went to try the technique out on a customer, I had already kind of had the conversation a few times.

By miriam98 — On Nov 07, 2011

@Davod09 - I’ve attended seminars and training classes in sales negotiation. One thing I can tell you is that the people delivering the training were very sure of themselves.

That’s the most important thing you can do – learn self-confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. I know that’s cliché and trite but it’s true.

Your self-perception comes through in everything you do. You might want to listen to some DVDs or take some classes in assertiveness training, in addition to the sales classes as well.

By David09 — On Nov 07, 2011

@nony - I think what you’re describing too is the old adage, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Sales people deal with benefits and wants.

People want different things. They want money, prestige, honor, a sense of pride, accomplishment, freedom, etc. I used to work as a copywriter and we focused on translating a product’s benefits into a customer’s wants.

When we matched the two, we made the sale. I think what holds true in copywriting is certainly true for effective negotiation skills. Always go for the win-win proposition.

By nony — On Nov 06, 2011

@everetra - To me the hallmark of all effective negotiation skills is to understand the value proposition. That means that everyone is willing to part money for things that are of value to them.

Your job is to figure out what that value is, and tailor your product or service towards meeting that value. That way, in the end the customer is doing things that will benefit them.

You need to make them feel like they are making the decision, not just having something shoved at them. Nobody likes pushy sales people.

In our industry, which is software, we sell the value proposition all the time. We sell software to electrical utilities. Our software will help them avoid costly audits. These audits could result in fines totaling millions of dollars.

Our software is in the thousands of dollars. That’s the value proposition. Use our product, pay only thousands, and avoid millions in audit fines. It’s a no brainer.

By everetra — On Nov 05, 2011

I’m not in sales but I’ve read some books on developing good sales negotiation skills. Some of the topics I recall include qualifying the prospect, which basically means determining where they’re at, what their needs are and so forth.

Then of course you have closing the sale, which is the most important part, and there are techniques in this regard as well. You have to phrase your close in such a way as to sound assertive but not aggressive, like the article says.

One way to do this is to ask a question like, “Can I start you out with a supply of x widgets beginning Monday?” That’s something I made up, but you get the idea. Use direct questions to help bring the sale to a close.

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