How "Sticky" Is Negotiation Training?

As one part of our overall service offerings, in the last 2 years, Accordence has conducted large-scale negotiation training initiatives at 3 different companies that involved close to 1,000 participants in sales-oriented roles.  

In an effort to gauge the “stickiness” of new behaviors as well as more tangible results, surveys were administered, typically in the 3-to-6-month range after training, to which approximately 60% of participants responded.

While the industries were different (transportation, real estate development, and healthcare), the relevance of the negotiation methodology and application to the process and communication with parties to a negotiation was significantly transferrable as evidenced by the trends in survey data.

From both quantitative data and by combing through the qualitative comments, we extracted a few survey highlights to share below which we believe demonstrate:

  1. The commonality of fundamental negotiation skills that are essential to parties in a negotiation
  2. Negotiation is a process, not just a single event
  3. The complexity of the environment and the bearing that has on negotiation training – engagement, adoption and application
  4. Training events alone are not sufficient to ensure sustained learning and measurable impact

Listening was the most commonly identified skill that participants say they improved as a result of training. Despite what we may think, listening is not necessarily intuitive, we always have room for improvement, and it is an art that takes practice to execute authentically.

Notable differences in negotiation results ranged from the practical to perceptual. While many participants acknowledged their sales cycles were longer than the time since training and therefore a bit premature to list tangible results, a fair amount of responses referenced gains in $ and % by retaining their largest account, securing new business, increasing territory revenue, securing more favorable terms for both parties, trading value for value in concession strategy, negotiating higher prices based on criteria, and exceeding revenue goals by more than 20%.

Obstacles to using new (soft) skills are highly interdependent on self, team, enterprise and market. It takes persistent application and signs of progress along the way (i.e., small wins) to facilitate a shift from old to new behaviors, which exemplify both efficiency and efficacy in the negotiation process and results. 

To ensure successful training initiatives as demonstrated by ROI (i.e., alignment with stated goals), the learning event requires reinforcement by various methods.  The onus is on the individual to start applying the new framework, while simultaneously having a venue for 1:1 coaching for confidence and to analyze results, as well as Management who foster a cultural shift so the framework becomes the new norm.

“Other” Reinforcement Applications:

In Conclusion:

There are always different ways to “slice & dice” data, and we are conscious about presenting high-level trends that may white wash the particular context in which a training initiative was adopted. As such, we are happy to entertain questions about industry-specific case studies and other relevant questions (while protecting client and participant confidentiality).

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