Published on September 1st, 2023 | by Bibhuranjan0
E-Commerce Entrepreneur Richard Burry’s Primer on Winning Negotiation Strategies
By definition, e-commerce is an arms-length business. Customers sit in the comfort of their own homes, tapping on a mobile screen or the chiclet keys of a desktop keyboard. Products appear magically on monitors, arrayed by categories, and arrive within days at the doorstep. E-commerce is all about freedom of choice, convenience and access to a worldwide network of retailers.
But there’s one aspect of e-commerce that remains stubbornly traditional: the behind-the-scenes process by which new companies are created, new innovations refined, and key professional relationships are forged.
No one knows this better than Richard Burry, founder of Smartvu Ltd., an international investment company that specializes in online e-commerce businesses. Beyond his 35 years of technology, business startup and management experience, there is one essential element to all of his business success, in e-commerce and across a range of industries: the ability to negotiate a deal.
Somewhere along the way in the creation of every successful business or initiative, there’s a deal that transforms an idea into a solid reality, a negotiation that clears the way for realizing profit and possibility. The most successful business people have learned to master and apply the basics of negotiation in every deal. And those basics are firmly rooted in a deep understanding of human nature.
Richard Burry’s approach to negotiation mirrors a survey recently conducted by the nonprofit organization SCORE, which asked a variety of business owners to share what they believe are the keys to success in negotiation. There were several recurring themes, including:
Make Your Goal a Win-Win Situation
The end game is achieving an agreement in which everyone feels like a winner, advises Richard Burry. Even better is when a party is not only satisfied with the end result, but also believes that the solution was his or her idea.
By contrast, if the other party ends up feeling shortchanged or misled, the victory will be short-lived — the other party will never want to do business with you again.
Author Christopher Voss agrees: “Successful negotiation is not about getting to ‘yes’; it’s about mastering ‘no’ and understanding what the path to an agreement is.” The goal of each party in a negotiation should be to find the middle ground, a place of compromise where most deals are struck.
Position Yourself as a Solution
Effective negotiators know the importance of focusing on the other party’s needs first, then offering solutions that are tailored to those needs, says Richard Burry.
A business owner in the SCORE survey noted: “When we talk with potential customers about our predictive text software, we start by asking them what their use cases are and what kind of solution they are looking for. Once they describe their needs, we focus our demonstration on their use cases, making them excited about the opportunity to use our product.”
Identify and Label the Other Party’s Fears
This is where an intuitive understanding of human nature pays incredible dividends, explains Richard Burry.
Christopher Voss advocates this concept in the popular book he co-authored, Never Split the Difference: “Demonstrate to your counterpart that you see the nuances of their emotions. Proactively label their fears. Phrases like ‘It sounds like you are afraid of…’ or ‘It looks like you’re concerned about…’ go a long way in disarming them. Also, list the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before they can.”
Empathize and Acknowledge Their Needs
In Richard Burry’s experience, amateur negotiators sometimes view this as a weakness, but in reality empathy is a great strength in negotiations.
“When you make an effort to see a particular issue from another party’s perspective, you not only win respect but you also give yourself a better understanding of the issues at hand, and of the negotiating playing field,” he contends.
“When you value other perspectives, it tends to come across in the way you communicate; and that is a very positive resource to draw upon in any negotiation. Genuine empathy disarms defenses, wins hearts and seals deals.”
Or as George Burns once famously quipped: “The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”