Four strategies for handling conflict

No matter how skilful one is at staff managent or sales negotiating, differences of opinion and conflicts arise in any business whether it’s retail or wholesale focused.It’s simply part of doing business as each party attpts to achieve its aims and expectations. To build the right relationships and increase sales and profitability, a practice owner must first understand how to successfully resolve disagreents.To help, here are four strategies for handling conflict in a sales/ supplier negotiation:Do no harm{{quote-A:R-W:450-Q: Don’t commit to something unless there is a good indication that the supplier thinks the idea has merit }}When negotiating an agreent and facing a number of conflicts, don’t make things worse. This simple truth may se obvious but, in fact, it’s easy to make matters worse just by falling into two traps.Firstly, there is a difference between being firm and labouring. Beating a particular point to death will usually make the entire situation more difficult to resolve.Secondly, debating an issue with a point/counterpoint strategy is also not effective. Even if there’s a strong rationale for your position, this strategy will usually fail because conflict resolution does not rely on the strength of the argument in sales negotiations. This usually is true regardless of how compellingly a rationale is presented.The way to find a way out of a difficult situation depends more on joint probl solving than any strategy to win the debate. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have a comprehensive understanding of both your suppliers as much you do your customers.Talk less, listen moreThis fundamental principle of selling applies equally to negotiating effectively but it can be very easy to forget in the middle of a tough conflict resolution discussion. It’s also true no matter which side of the conflict you are sitting on.For example, an optometrist might one day be dealing with a customer/patient disagreent – seller to buyer – and the next day might find thselves on the other side as the buyer when dealing with a supplier probl – buyer to seller.The rule is to talk less, listen more. During conflict resolution, there are three distinct reasons to listen more: to get information that may help form a solution; to diffuse negative or hostile otions; and to avoid making a mistake, saying the wrong thing or giving a concession off-the-cuff.Try a trial balloonOne approach that is often used is called the “trial balloon”. Don’t commit to something unless there is a good indication that the supplier thinks the idea has merit. Compare the following two general approaches for developing a solution to a pricing stalate when dealing with a supplier:

  • “Can I get a 10% discount if I increase the number of units purchased by 10%?”
  • “Suppose I could increase the number of units. If I did, could we look at a price break? Do you think that might work?”

In the first statent, the buyer made a proposal. What’s the most likely response from the seller? A counterproposal. This might lead to a final resolution. It might also just end up in a series of back and forth trade-offs with no final solution and an increase in frustration.In the second statent, one person invites the other to help shape the answer. When the other party (buyer or seller) participates in crafting the solution, they are more likely to feel good about the end result. Also, no time is wasted on ideas that end up going nowhere.Offer fewer options, not moreWhen a sales negotiation stalls because of a conflict, generating a long list of options is not always an effective strategy. Too many options may lead either to indecision or to the customer looking elsewhere for a simpler resolution. The best approach is to focus the discussion on one or two possible ways out of the conflict, and avoid the brainstorming idea.

Prevention is better than cureOne of the most powerful propositions for handling conflicts is to prevent th from occurring in the first place.One preventative method is not to take actions based on assumptions about the motives and reasons for the other party’s actions.Making an assumption is not actually a probl but not testing the assumption is a probl.Ask questions and then listen to what the other party has to say.By doing so, it’s possible to find out that the assumption you made that could have resulted in a conflict is, in fact, not true.In fact, there is often a logical and fair reason why the supplier has taken the action they have.Know that and you’ll know how to deal with it.


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