Negotiate – Sell – Interrogate. Perhaps astonishingly, they are all one in the same. Great negotiators sell beneficial agreements; great sales professionals sell the perfect product or solution; and great interrogators sell the truth. All three processes involve at least two people communicating from opposite perspectives who use their preparation, experience, and training to learn about their counterparts and create middle ground from which they can achieve their end goal. While negotiations are perceived as noble endeavors and sales conversations are the lifeblood of many businesses, interrogations are perceived as dark, confrontational and ugly interactions.
Despite common perceptions, the similarities between the three processes are striking. To start, the participants in each process experience fears and motivations, have goals, and face potential consequences. Negotiators, sales professionals, and interrogators achieve their goals by creating relationships, identifying interests, and persuading counterparts to make concessions. They also create alternatives and, maybe most importantly, help people feel comfortable making tough decisions. They accomplish all of this while staying aware that any mistake could jeopardize relationships, company images, future opportunities, and create legal difficulty if things go wrong.
Your counterparts aspire to goals and face consequences as well. Buyers want to purchase what they need while staying within their budget, and they are aware that consequences for making the wrong purchase can range from feelings of regret to financial ruin. Negotiation counterparts want to push for the most beneficial agreement available, all with the knowledge that the wrong agreement can cause embarrassment, reassignment or termination. And of course, the consequences guilty people face if they tell the truth during interrogations include disappointing their family, losing their jobs, and going to jail.
Furthermore, negotiations, sales, and interrogations are not differentiated by the potential consequences. A sales person might perceive losing a sale worse than a criminal may perceive going to jail. The potential to create shared interests is what differentiates interrogations from negotiations and sales. When two people enter into a negotiation, they are often interested in finding a way to work together. When a potential buyer speaks with a sales professional, they typically have some interest in making a purchase. When a guilty person speaks with an interrogator, they often have zero interest in telling the truth.
Sales professionals and negotiators, however, can create strategic advantages for themselves by adapting specific techniques interrogators use:
- Prepare for any interaction from your counterpart’s perspective. Consider what consequences they most likely fear and what motivations will most likely help them overcome those fears.
- Once the conversations begin, most successful interrogators don’t go directly for what they want. Avoid starting conversations by opening with your best point or going directly for the kill. It will be important to anticipate what resistance you are likely to encounter; and utilize a game plan that allows you to address these areas before you make any proposals. This will allow you to build greater perceived value for you best selling points and reduce any future resistance in your proposals.
- Interrogators typically experience more success when they wait to obtain a confession until they believe their subject is ready to confess. The same logic applies to sales and negotiations as well. Proposals will be accepted more often when you are patient and the customer is more willing to buy.
- Precede proposals with reasons or justifications. (Better stated, overcome objections before you get them.) The typical routine is to make a proposal, listen to the reasons why our counterpart rejects it, and then provide reasons or justifications why the proposal is fair. When you provide the reasons and justifications first – and eliminate any potential objections — you will decrease the amount of resistance you receive.
Everyone wants to negotiate a better deal, but no one wants to be haggled with. Everyone wants to buy, but no one likes feeling sold. Everyone wants the truth, but no one wants to feel interrogated. Practitioners of all three disciplines can benefit greatly by studying leading techniques and best practices from across the board.
Michael Reddington, CFI is an executive resource, the president of InQuasive, Inc. and the creator of the Disciplined Listening Method. He teaches leaders from all industries and specialties how to apply strategic, ethical persuasion techniques in all of their conversations. To learn more contact Michael directly at +1 (704) 256-7116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.