During a training session on sales negotiation skills, I was asked this question — “Can you successfully negotiate with someone you don’t trust?”

My response is yes, it is possible to negotiate with somebody you don’t trust.

The trust during the negotiation is not the issue. It’s trusting the other party will do what has been agreed upon that potentially is the problem.

Negotiating with somebody you don’t have any trust with requires each move to be made much slower and in smaller increments.  If you don’t trust the other person, the last thing you want to do is to put too much on the table at one time without being 100% confident with how the other party is going to respond.

Challenge is in what happens when you reach an agreement.

If you don’t trust the other person, it’s hard to be certain they’ll do what you expect them to do.  To deal with this problem there are several things you should do.

First is to make sure you control the note taking process and you be the one to draw up the documents recapping what was agreed upon.  For each item agreed to, there must be a name associated with it indicating who is responsible for that part.

In drawing up the final agreement, each step must also reflect an approach similar to the negotiating process itself. I call this “if you will, then I will.”   This means each activity you intend to do is associated with an activity the other party must do first.  This will increase significantly the leverage you have in ensuring what is supposed to get done actually gets done.

If there is one problem with negotiating with someone you don’t trust, it’s in finding out either during or after the negotiations that the person is not empowered to negotiate an agreement.  To ensure this does not happen to you, before you begin negotiating with this person you don’t trust you must be able to verify with another person in the customer’s company or a third-party that the person you’re negotiating with does indeed have the power to do so.

Yes, you can successfully negotiate with someone you don’t trust — but only if you follow the guidelines I’ve outlined above.

Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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