When you think about negotiations on your farm, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Land negotiations? Discounted prices with a vendor? Or, maybe it’s getting premium pricing on specialty contracts? Most of us know individuals who go into a negotiation and accomplish what we can only dream of – being a guru of negotiations for their farm as they strategically maneuver the meeting to accomplish their desired outcome. This sort of comparison can leave us feeling a little self-conscious and wondering how we will ever achieve those kinds of results. No matter how hard we try, it seems as though we can never measure up.
Podcasts like “How to Become Great at Just About Anything” by Freakonomics Radio and books such as Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” claim, regardless of how much natural talent they possess, most individuals can become skilled at any task as long as they are willing to put in the time and deliberate practice.
A Guide to Becoming a Negotiation Expert
Yes, you too can master the art of negotiation. But, in reality, most of us struggle with where to even start. These 5 tips are sure to help you become a farm negotiation expert and take your business to the next level:
1. Aim and Prepare
As you already know, adequate preparation is critical to a productive discussion. Without a clear message, the vendors, landowners or potential business partners your meeting with won’t understand what you’re striving to achieve in the agreement. Prepare by being able to clearly describe the work involved, deliverables, timelines, requirements, and compensation.
2. Support with Evidence
Going into a negotiation you may have the right focus, but don’t expect others to jump on board just because you have a brilliant idea – not everyone will be as convinced as you. Back up your ideas with solid evidence that supports your theories. If your concept is new, then conduct or find a small trial providing the data to prove the merits of what you are proposing.
For example, know the return you can provide your landowners if you are negotiating tiling their acres or starting a new agronomy program on those acres. What’s their cost vs. their return? Having the right evidence to back up your claim will solidify the landowners return on investment.
3. Improve Interaction Management
During negotiations, keep the group small (if possible). Larger groups could slow progress. Whether it’s landlords or vendors, the key to negotiation is understanding the personalities of everyone you’re meeting. Cognitive psychology research has given us an amazing tool to arm ourselves before entering into any negotiation. Different researchers categorize personalities using different models.
Some of the popular personality assessments out there are colors training or, my personal favorite, David Mitchell’s “Romantic, Warrior, Expert and Mastermind.” Regardless of how you label the diverse personalities, know that understanding who you’re dealing with will allow you to speak to each individual on their terms, using their language and based on their understanding.
4. Check Yourself
Let’s face it – your farm is your legacy, and in many interactions relating to your farm it’s easy to allow emotions to override logic. If allowed to happen, this can derail progress toward your goal and potentially discredit you in the future. Know your concerns, listen to feedback and allow it to open your eyes to considerations you may have previously missed.
5. Remove Preconceived Notions
Inadvertently, we all walk into negotiations with preconceived notions about the outcome. Don’t allow, “What if’s” to divert you from your goal. Mary Browne wrote, “Preconceived notions are the locks on the door of wisdom.”
Grow Your Business the Right Way
Persuasion is an art of understanding what you’re up against. Being strategic in knowing and responding to those you are negotiating with will give you the upper hand in any negotiation. Use the negotiating tips you’ve gathered in these 5 areas to focus your attention on the realm of negotiations you may have not previously considered. To be different, farmers need to grow differently. Learn from the FamilyFarms Group business development strategists to gain the business skills and mindset to grow your business in ways far beyond word-of-mouth.
Request a free needs assessment, and download your free copy of “Farm Employee Performance Measures” for more insight on how to equip management with the proper evaluation that provides a clear set of goals and expectations: