Negotiating over email. The Do’s and the Don’ts.

We like the idea of themes here at Homesearch.

January was all about you and how you can get out of your own way to make 2020 count. 

February is negotiation month.

Negotiation is why you’re hired. Read that twice.

If you’re not a more-than-competent negotiator, you’re going to cost your clients and yourself money.

Over the next three weeks, we’re going to explore the ways in which you negotiate throughout the estate agency process and highlight, what we think at least, are best-in-class techniques to follow to ensure you’re communicating (and negotiating) as effectively as possible.

This week, we’re starting with negotiating in writing. By writing we mean by email, text or whatsapp.

Before we start talking do’s and don'ts, it’s important to state the obvious. If at all possible, negotiate in person at all times. There’s no better way to do it. End of story.

But that’s not always possible. So here we are, talking writing.

The quality of your written communication has never been more important than in 2020. People want to hide behind their screens as much as they can, so you need to be able to negotiate through them.

If there’s a golden rule of written negotiation, it is this: less is more. 

Your ultimate goal for any written negotiations should be to drive the conversation to the phone or, preferably, to a face-to-face meeting. 

Of course, in the age of smartphones, that’s not always possible. Some people just prefer to do business over text or email, and, despite what your sales manager might tell you, that’s totally okay. Remember, it’s about them, not your boss’s KPIs.

When you’re negotiating over email, use as few words as possible to get your point across.

This isn’t to say “be short” in your tone, just simply that no want wants to read an essay, nor will they be able to understand the key points to take from it.

You can’t put an entire reasoning of your or your clients decisions in an email and expect the whole thing to land on the other side. Your goal through each snippet of conversation is to move the negotiations forward. To get it flowing. To get a reply.

But choose your words carefully. Your responses shouldn’t be longer than five sentences, and you shouldn’t ask multiple questions — one or two tops should do the trick. 

Remember the earlier goal. Your aim is to move the conversation to the phone or face-to-face. That gives you more tools like inflection, tone and body language to get more information and to get your point across the way it was intended.

A great tip for doing this is to ask, “would it be ridiculous for us to schedule a meeting tonight to continue our chat?”

Why tonight? That’s intentional. 

It shows subconsciously that you and your clients want to resolve the negotiation quickly and that you value their participation in the process and are taking them very seriously. This is what a serious buyer or a serious seller wants to hear. And if they don’t go for it, you know they’re not as motivated as they perhaps claim.

There’s going to be times where you’re not able to move your negotiations outside a text or email. When that happens, think of them like a game of chess. If you put multiple moves in one email, what is your counterpart going to react to? 

When you give people too much to process in one email, there’s a high chance they’ll go silent. They’ll glance at your novel and think, “that’s too hard”. 

Use softening phrases to make sure that your message is received in the tone you intended. 

Phrases like “I’m sorry”, and “I’m afraid”, or the word “just” (even though I was told at Uni to never use this in a sentence) can really help you eliminate the likelihood that the other side reads your message in an aggressive or hostile tone.

Bringing it all together

Whenever you say anything in writing, people often remember two things about your words: 

  1. The first question you ask.
  2. How you end it.

By letting those two points guide your communication and coupling them with specific negotiation tools, you can become a more persuasive negotiator in any written scenario.

Your words matter, especially in writing. Learn how to get your message across the right way and you and your clients will feel far more comfortable and confident negotiating that way.