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2011-04-05 18:43:36

Power of Expertise

The Power of Expertise is available to almost all of us but widely ignored by too many.  While we might not think of ourselves as an expert in the realm of a negotiating circumstance, we can still use this power to our advantage.

Have you ever felt over matched and incompetent in a business dealing?  Were you ever hanging on by a thin thread of comprehension?  Did you ever look at your counterpart and wonder if you would embarrass yourself due to a lack of understanding?

It is quite common that we are dealing with (negotiating) with people who are expert in their field, a field where we are just lost or at least over matched. 

The insurance agent explains an investment annuity.  The water treatment technician explains how the water softener programming system works.  The car dealer discusses the features and costs of upgrade options.  The accountant presents multiple options for minimizing tax liability.  Each of these will likely muster a common feeling in all of us.  Specifically, I can't negotiate effectively.  I'm struggling to comprehend what they are talking about.

When we are over matched in expertise, we tend to become passive and acquiesce to someone else's recommendation.  That's often done at the sacrifice of a good deal.

So what do we do?  Here are three suggestions to help level the playing field.


1.  Slow down the process

Rushing to a settlement when you are already at an expertise disadvantage is disastrous.   Ask for more details.  Don't make a deal at one meeting.  Put more pressure on your counterpart to bring you up to speed.  Put off any agreement decision until after you've been totally briefed.  Don't hesitate to admit your vulnerability, but communicate that you've been in this situation before and you always exhaustively check things out.

2.  Do more research up front (or at breaks in the negotiations)

Online and print resources are easily accessible to us all.  Seek out others who have considered this product or service and see what they can share.   Don't be complacent and think that you know more than you really do.

3.  Ask challenging questions, and I mean CHALLENGING!

Such as,  "What's the biggest complaint you get regarding this (product/service)?"  "Where can I get this at a better price?"  "Is this available online at a better price?"  "In a year from now, will I look back to now and wished I'd have picked something else?"

"Why do you folks make this so complicated?"  "Why do I sense that this might turn out better for you than for me?"

Good negotiators know how to level the playing field when they are over matched when it comes to expertise.  They have the knack of preparing in advance to compensate.  KEEP Negotiating.

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