10 virtual negotiation tips

10 virtual negotiation tips


In the current environment, our lives have become more and more digital, whether we like it or not. This also means buying and selling has become more digital and that definitely has some implications.

To help you with this, I’ll share my top 10 tips today that will improve the outcome of your virtual negotiations:

Tip 1: Choose your medium wisely

Whether you’re using email, WhatsApp, phone, video-conference or face-to-face, make sure you decide thoughtfully about the medium to use. They all have pros and cons. Whether it’s proximity to the other person, richness of the conversation such as body language or data management and time spent traveling, they all have an impact on the outcome.

Tip 2: Focus on building trust

People don’t buy from people they don’t trust. And building trust in a virtual environment is harder than when you’re meeting face-to-face. So, remember you need to put in even more effort than you’re used to.

Tip 3: Schmooze before the meeting

One way of building trust is to schmooze before you go into the details of the negotiation. Talk about the family, the challenges of working from home or other non-negotiation related topics as a way to build openness and trust. This will improve the likelihood of getting to a deal.

Tip 4: Brief personal disclosure improves the outcome

Another way of building trust is to share something personal. Perhaps an anecdote about yourself or someone in your family. By sharing something personal, you automatically make a deeper connection with the other person. It’s almost as if you’re saying: “I trust you by sharing something personal, so now you can trust me as well”

Tip 5: Discuss how to run the negotiation process

As part of the trust building process it’s also important to provide clarity. By sharing a joint agenda and agreeing on the steps in the process, you show that you have nothing to hide and you build trust as a consequence.

Tip 6: Don’t rush your opening offer

During the negotiations trainings I provide, I always advise people to put their opening offer on the table first since this acts as an anchor for the other party. This also applies in a virtual environment, however in this case I would recommend not to rush this step as it might reduce the level of trust between the both of you.

Tip 7: Take a break and summarise

Like in face-to-face negotiations, it’s ok to take a break from the meeting to gather your thoughts or to align internally. When you do so, make sure you summarise to emphasize the common grounds you have achieved together.

Tip 8: Agree what has been agreed

At the end of the meeting, agree what has been agreed, preferably in writing. In a video-conference, why don’t you share your screen with the typed-up minutes in an e-mail. As soon as all parties agree, you hit the send-button. This avoids painful discussions afterwards.

Tip 9: Give the other person a call before you send an email

In situations where you have conducted a virtual negotiation and you intend on sending a confirmation email at a later stage, be sure to make a phone call to the recipients prior to sending the e-mail. Research has shown that doing this, improves the chances of the recipients perceiving the e-mail positively.

Tip 10: Emails are often not read like they are intended

Linked to the previous tip, keep in mind that there is no body language or tone of voice in an e-mail message so it’s hard to read between the lines. Even if you have the best intentions, the other party might not perceive it that way.

There you go, my top 10 tips for making virtual negotiations successful. As always, I welcome your thoughts. Happy negotiations everyone!