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Asking Questions
by Mike Babineaux

Questions are invaluable in negotiating. But the trouble is, most of us don't think of the best questions until after the session is over. I used to think of my best questions - while on my way back to the office or on the way home. You know how it goes, "Dang! I should have asked about their whatchamacallit!"

I found that my question-asking ability was improved when I followed these few simple tips:
  • Have a brainstorming question-asking session among your own people. They'll raise some interesting questions of their own.

  • Use every early contact as a opportunity to ask questions. The best answers are the ones asked long before the negotiations - not at the table.

  • Have the courage to ask dumb questions. There are no such things.

  • Ask questions that pry into the other party's affairs. If it's privileged information, make them say so.

  • Ask the same question to several different people, especially people other than the sales rep. You'll get different perspectives.

  • Ask questions for which you already know the answer. They can help you calibrate the credibility of the other party.

  • Be persistent in your questioning. Some people are experts at dancing around questions.

And finally, the biggest tip of all;
  • Get your questions ready in advance. Few of us are bright enough to think fast on our feet. Remember that every question and answer exchange is a negotiation in its own way. Every question has the character of a demand and every answer is a concession. The main thing is that people who ask questions - get answers.
That's my opinion, what's yours?

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