Negotiation Pointers: Mind Your Ps and Cues

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Prior experience and pure gut feeling can take you a long way in negotiating with buyers and sellers. But establishing an logical underpinning to your intuition can sharpen your arguments’ effectiveness. The 3Ps of Negotiating: Exploring the Dimensions by John C. Ritche, Jr., (Prentice Hall, 2001. $23.95) teaches real estate professionals how to hone their persuasive skills by thinking in a focused, systematic way about how personality issues influence interactions. The book argues that successful negotiation requires balancing three sets of interrelating issues: people, processes, and positional issues.

The 3Ps of Negotiating divides people into four basic negotiation types: verbalizers, convincers, rationals, and reasonables. These categories vary according to the emphasis individuals places on logic or emotion during negotiations. Understanding how people in each category communicates can lay the groundwork for a successful negotiation. Chapter 1: People explains how to recognize the cues that indicate an individual’s style:

  • Verbalizers enjoy talking through issues. They depend largely on their feelings and tend to become bored by detail. Their overall goal is to “feel good” about the results of a negotiation. Allow them to talk things through until they are secure with their decision.
  • Convincers seek to win all arguments, consequently, they tend to become more aggressive if pushed or questioned. They have a good grasp of details and set strong, identifiable goals. When negotiations are over, they want to feel as if they’ve won. Don’t let convincers steamroll over you; you can gain their respect by standing up to them.
  • Rationals place little stock in emotions. They expect written as well as verbal detail and want terms carried out exactly as they were presented. Rationals use reason to guide themselves to a logical conclusion. Focus on facts and statistics when negotiating with them.
  • Reasonables let rules others have set define their decisions. They are easygoing and reluctant to take charge. They will defer to others and trust their judgment. Remember to be patient with reasonables, they may require more handholding than other customers.

The book includes exercises that ask readers to consider how hypothetical salespeople would respond in given situations, such as buyers who seemingly don’t know what they want, or are buyers who are sticklers on numbers during negotiations. They allow allows readers to apply their knowledge and improve their negotiation savvy.

Chapter 2: Process studies the tactics each personality type will employ during negotiations and how to respond. Different types use different strengths during negotiations–verbalizes rely heavily on their intuitive ability and verbal skills; convincers use logic to gain emotional power and control negotiations; and rationales present solely logical arguments. Reasonables will obey the logical rules set by others. This chapter also discusses the tools that salespeople can use in negotiations, such as tone of voice, dress, preparation, and body language. For instance, the book says not to attempt to shout down a vocal buyer, but rather respond with a neutral tone and facts.

Chapter 3: “Position” is the book’s weakest chapter. It discusses some of the external issues that will influence negotiations, such as market conditions, the home’s physical features, and buyers’ personal tastes. Unfortunately, the chapter gets bogged down in abstract jargon. This problem is apparent throughout the book, the author sometimes fails to present his case in a clear, concise manner. Passages such as “Position represents the boundary where reality and personality meet. Personality and process interpret; position dictates the dimensions of the negotiating scenario,” don’t get his point across well.

For patient readers, however, The 3 Ps of Negotiating offers a wealth of insights on improving one’s ability to deal with buyers and sellers. Don’t let verbal miscues cost you a sale or a listing. Spotting a customer’s personality type and modifying your approach accordingly could help you land your next big deal.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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