March 31, 2021 | Blog

Virtual Negotiations: a blindfolded trapeze or a walk in the park?

Like a trapeze artist navigating a perilous ‘walk’ between two rooftops, large deals were already daunting before the pandemic.  But now they are virtual. So the highest risk transactions facing your business can seem overwhelming.  It can seem a little like performing a trapeze, but now with a blindfold.

 When you think about complex negotiations, the bag of tricks includes listening and observing a variety of non-verbal cues. Did you notice that classic negotiation flinch? Can you tell if the buyer is interested just by reading their facial expressions? Did they react positively to your opening offer?  To your counter-position?  Well, what happens when the buyer decides to turn their camera off?

 Over the last year, almost all negotiations have been conducted over Zoom calls, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or other virtual communication platforms. To all the introverts out there, that might sound like music to your ears, but to a sales team, it could cripple their confidence. Zoom isn’t necessarily a blindfold, but to an unprepared negotiator, it can seem like you’re looking through glasses with the wrong prescription. 

 Loss of confidence is the Kryptonite of negotiations and is the leading cause of failure or suboptimal results in large negotiations. Sales teams have got to adapt.

 Here’s the secret to handling this extraordinary challenge: Plan. Shocking, right? Negotiating large contracts was already a daunting task. Executing these negotiations virtually adds hidden obstacles. In large, complex, business-to-business negotiations, process beats skill and it’s not even close.  By using a defined negotiation readiness process, cross-functional teams can prepare for, and execute complex transactions. It is the equivalent of providing a safety harness and balance bar to the trapeze artist—what once seemed almost impossible is now not just doable, but repeatable. 

 With the loss of non-verbal communication cues and face-to-face interactions, the negotiation needs to be more methodical and deliberate. Value messaging needs to be clear and concise. The offer must be presented so that the reaction from the other side of the table is plain to see and understand—even with compromised communications. Getting to the other side of this game is all about preparation and having a clear and aligned tactical negotiation plan.

 Velo’s point of view is that companies have to be process-centered, forward-thinking, and well-rehearsed and deliberate in terms of how they’re going to manage the actual interaction, the human-to-human interaction. While face-to-face negotiations may return soon in a post-COVID world, large deals made virtually have the power to be just as effective.

 In an always-changing world, regardless of the industry or situation you’re in, businesses need the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to overcome a variety of obstacles. Moving large deal negotiations online doesn’t have to be a blind trapeze. Velo equips every team to make big deals like a walk in the park.

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