Should you negotiate on the telephone?

A few weeks ago we discussed online negotiations, but a far more common not-in-person negotiation takes place on the telephone. How and when should you negotiate on the phone?

Let’s start with the when.

According to Dr. Chester Karrass, “a phone negotiation is the ultimate quick-deal maker.”

Here are some situations when the phone works best:

• You are dealing with a hard-to-reach person
• You want to say no easily
• You don’t want to seem concerned
• You want to sound tough or resolute
• You want to keep the discussion short
• You want to equalize your status
• You want to limit the amount of information
• You want to talk more, listen less
• You are prone to interrupting frequently
• And last but not least , you want to keep costs low (no flying a team across the country)

Let’s discuss how to negotiate effectively over the telephone.

The first rule is the rule for all negotiations: be thoroughly prepared, and be better prepared than the other party.

A few dos:

• Make a checklist to avoid omissions
• Take notes during the conversation
• Confirm agreements by repeating them back in your own words
• Have a ready excuse to break off the conversation
• Talk less to get the other party to talk more

A few don’ts:

• Don’t start a phone negotiation when you know you won’t have time or you are in the middle of other things.
• Don’t multi-task during the phone call. Remain fully engaged in what is being discussed during the call.
• Don’t start a conversation unless you know your issues and you have a position on them
• Don’t be afraid to call back if there are errors in your calculations or you decide you want to revisit an important issue.

Risks:

• When on the phone you can’t look the other person in the eye to determine their emotional reactions to what you are saying. The message you think you are sending might not be the message they are receiving.
• You may end your call thinking you have agreement when you really have no agreement from the other side.
• If you use your cell phone you may not have the opportunity to write down the results of your call until later. When you do document what happened on the call, what you write down may be different from what was actually agreed to.

Do you routinely engage in telephone negotiations? If so, when are they most effective for you?

Thanks for visiting! If you enjoyed this post, you can learn many more useful negotiation tips through our free download of Negotiating Tips.