Negotiation seems to be a lost art these days. CEO of Negotiations Ninja Mark Raffan uses an array of negotiation tactics in his approach to marketing, and to say he’s been successful at it is… an understatement. In this episode, Mark, a prolific content creator and strategist, introduces us to the negotiation processes and concepts that not just lead to great projects, but robust, enduring relationships with other professionals and creatives. In fact, many of the pleasant surprises that arise in our work are the result of engaging in compromise when the moment calls for it.

MINDSETS:

  • Contextualize risk – compromise is not created equal. In a hostage situation, negotiations can’t afford to play so fast and loose with the give and take of it all, not with human lives at stake. But luckily, this is marketing, and great marketing often requires a dynamic, carefully agreed-upon compromise. A bit of pain for the sake of the end game, if you will.
  • Intent is everything – check your ethics. Negotiation does NOT equal manipulation. Having a nuanced, well-balanced discussion requires a mutual respect between parties and a mindset geared toward creation and teambuilding.
  • Understand the logic AND emotion – human beings make decisions based on both, and persuading a prospective client requires that you’ve not only presented such a choice as both the most logical for them and their leadership, but that you’ve appealed to their emotions in key ways.
  • Stop trying to time the market – just like in finance, you can’t possibly time everything correctly all the time. Don’t drive yourself crazy. As Mark says, you have to be “on all the time”, focus on your slower-burning, more emotionally enduring brand marketing just as much as your more exciting, higher energy performance marketing strategies. That way you’re more than ready to crush it when good timing finds you.
  • Reacting vs responding – in negotiation just as in marketing, it’s a common mistake to react to every change the market throws at us. But if you’ve prepped well, you should be responding to potential outcomes as a result of said preparation. Reacting to every new story about the market is dangerous territory because it means we’re making “costly decisions based on assumptions”… assumptions that we often haven’t verified.

SKILLSETS:

  • Customer research backed-by robust questions – asking the right questions will give you the right data! Asking lazy, leading questions is a huge impediment to making real progress in understanding your customers.
    • Nurturing your curiosity may be the most important thing you can do as a marketer.
    • Make sure you’re getting the right answers to your questions. If a customer didn’t give you a response that truly answers the dimensions of your question, ask again or rephrase your inquiry. If not, you’re only operating off of assumptions.
  • Verify any and all assumptions – we live in a world where we can get a plethora of information by tapping a screen. Having the skill to understand your assumptions, pick them apart, and then verify them by making use of the myriad research resources available to us in the modern age is essential to grow as a successful marketer (and negotiator!)


TOOLSETS:

  • Diverse negotiation ideologies/practice sets (getting too hooked on one strategy leads to a dogmatization of one approach over the other… this can severely limit you.)
  • Classic SEO
  • Door-to-door/direct mail marketing (yes, it still works in the proper contexts!)


RESULTS:

  • A successful podcast (Negotiations Ninja) that continues to build authority and credibility in the industry, and connects Mark’s company to pivotal leaders in the marketing space.

Proofpoint’s POV:

One of the most interesting parts of this conversation was the discussion about ethics. Manipulation seems to have become synonymous with marketing, at least in the eyes of the consumer. People have become so used to clickbait, bait and switching, and other tactics that take advantage of what we know about human behavior that most of us are naturally skeptical and assume we are being manipulated. The same is true with sales.

There is a reason why buyer behavior has drastically shifted to where people go to their peers and communities for recommendations instead of search engines and review sites. Most of us know that the latter can be manipulated, while our peers will generally give their honest opinion.

This has always been the case to a certain extent – word of mouth has always been the best performing form of marketing, but it has historically been hard to come by in B2B. But that has changed over the past 7 years.

This is why we are so gung ho about relationships and Relationship Velocity(TM). Building genuine relationships throughout your ICP and target accounts, is the best way to give yourself a leg up in your negotiations.

A bit more about Mark:

Mark Raffan is the CEO of Negotiations Ninja and a successful host of their podcast where he hosts “negotiation experts, business people, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life and discusses which negotiation tactics work, which don’t work and how we can improve our negotiation skills.” Mark is a prolific content creator and regularly explores the art of persuasion, sales, and procurement.

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