Most modern negotiation knowledge comes from the anecdotal experiences of scholars and trainers, often tested and refined in classroom settings involving students engaging in role plays and game theory. When you track the sources of knowledge on negotiation processes and techniques, very few began with systematic empirical research – that is, from expertly observed and objectively measured and analysed observations from real world negotiations. There’s a good reason for that: researchers rarely gain access to negotiations in order to observe the interactions taking place.
In the 1980s, researcher Neil Rackham and his Huthwaite Research Group were financed by IBM and Xerox to study techniques used in sales negotiations. They trained researchers to record or “code” verbal behaviours of 10,000 sales people in 35,000 negotiations. They observed and coded which questions were used most often by sales people and correlated them with successfully concluded sales. By analysing this mass of data, the reseachers discovered that the most successful sales people did not push their products and services at customers, but engaged or “pulled” customers with questions. Analysing the most frequently asked questions enabled the researchers to develop a tool for efficient selling called SPIN – an acronym of Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions and Need or value questions. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham became one of the world’s best-selling sales books of all time. Innovative in its time, SPIN Selling has been adapted and remains a widely used tool.
Further discoveries and tools are possible from observational research of many other types of negotiation.
There’s a way to negotiate better
Find it through new research and innovation