Episode 199: Nicole Soames
Nicole Soames is a best-selling author, highly qualified coach and an emotional intelligence practitioner. In 2009 she founded Diadem after over a decade working in senior commercial roles at companies including Unilever. Nicole has helped transform thousands of people into commercial athletes in sales, negotiation, coaching, leadership and management.
Our Mission Is To Change The Negative Perception Of Sales People
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Do you view negotiation as a conversation? Or a battle with clear winners and losers? Nicole Soames joins me in this episode of Sales Reinvented to start the conversation surrounding negotiation—and reveal why so many of the mindsets salespeople have regarding negotiation are faulty. She shares common misunderstandings, how to prepare for a negotiation, and much more.
Nicole Soames is the CEO & Founder of Diadem Performance, a commercial skills training and coaching company. She is passionate about applying emotional intelligence to negotiation conversations. Nicole is a best-selling author and sought after coach whose savvy advice is revealed in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Be sure to listen!
Outline of This Episode
- [0:49] Nicole’s definition of negotiation
- [1:07] Negotiation is a conversation
- [2:52] Why salespeople don’t like to negotiate
- [5:46] Negotiation isn’t a process—but a conversation
- [8:04] Emotional intelligence is the #1 attribute you must possess
- [9:56] There are no shortcuts: negotiation preparation is key
- [11:43] Nicole’s top 3 negotiation dos and don’ts
- [13:24] Don’t engage in negative internal conversations
- [14:35] How children are powerful negotiators
Common misunderstandings about negotiation
Many salespeople mistake negotiation for haggling or bartering. If you shift your viewpoint to negotiation as a conversation, you’re better equipped to build a long-lasting relationship. People are only as powerful as the conversations they have. Nicole believes we achieve results based on the conversations we have with others. Everything is negotiable—but you can only receive if you first ask.
Another faulty misconception is that salespeople are schooled in the philosophy that the customer is always right. So when they enter a negotiation conversation, they have placed the customer on a pedestal. By doing so, they cede control and power to the prospect and end up paying dearly for those relationships.
Salespeople are usually engaged with a procurement person—who is well-versed in negotiation tactics. Because each of these people are leaning on their learned skills, a negotiation conversation often ends in disagreement, deadlock, and disappointment. What is the easiest way to avoid that? Keep listening to find out!
Negotiation needs to be a conversation
Most people who have received negotiation training are taught that it’s a process—it’s linear and theoretical. Nicole is quick to point out that it shouldn’t be viewed as a process but as a negotiation conversation. Thinking about it as a conversation changes the way you engage in the negotiation. You should approach your conversation by contemplating answers to these questions:
Why should I feel confident? What will their challenges be? How will I handle them? Am I exhibiting an appropriate level of ambition? How will I break the deadlock?
Approaching your conversation with emotional intelligence is the largest differentiator and competitive advantage that Nicole can see. You must remember that you’re negotiating with a human. There is a real person on the other side of this conversation. It’s why Nicole advocates for face-to-face communication whenever possible (versus email).
How to prepare for your negotiation conversation
There are no shortcuts. Preparation for a negotiation is paramount to its success. One unique tactic that Nicole recommends is to “big yourself up”: write down all the reasons you should feel confident in the negotiation conversation. Build yourself up and read it to yourself. Don’t allow yourself to fall trap to inner conversations that say things like “They won’t say yes” or “Everyone is having a difficult time right now”.
Secondly, you must prepare for any curveballs that may come your way. Nicole emphasizes that forewarned is forearmed. And while you want to prepare for variables, she believes that you should NOT prepare a walkaway point. Doing so is admitting defeat and claiming that it’s okay to fail. Nicole believes that you get the best results when you’re challenged and under some pressure. To hear Nicole’s top negotiation 3 dos and don’ts and her ‘ABC method’ keep listening!
Learn the art of the negotiation conversation from your children
Nicole admits that children are expert negotiators. What makes our children SO good at negotiation? Think about it—children are relentlessly ambitious. They use every overt tactic in the book and wind parents down until they get what they want. “All of my friends have this” or “All of their parents allow that” is a very effective strategy. Nicole admits she smiles every time she sees her children negotiating with her. They are ace negotiators and we can learn a lot from them.
Talk about some unique insight. To hear the rest of Nicole’s thoughts on viewing negotiation as a conversation, be sure to listen to the whole episode!
More About Nicole Soames
What was the last book you read?
Women Don’t Ask
Who / What inspires you?
The world of sport – I am fascinated and inspired by the dedication and hard work sport men and women put into being at the top of their game. I constantly reflect on how athletes would handle the challenges we face in the commercial world – this thinking provides me with endless food for thought. The likes of Serena Williams, Andy Murray are my faves.
Are there any aspects of your own productivity skills that you are working on improving at the moment?
It’s really important to drink your own cool aide – I am regularly checking that I don’t negotiate with myself
Staying fit – I am a regular at the gym & am delighted to be allowed back on the tennis court this week! My interests are all people related – my family, my team, my clients and generally – we are all on a journey and our relationships count
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