Negotiation at Work - Ira Asherman

Negotiation at Work - Ira Asherman

Learn how to improve your sales performance and organize your team right now, through some practical exercises proposed in this book. 

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Would you like to optimize the results of your sales team? Do you know that there are different styles of negotiation? Do you know how they should be applied? This knowledge is crucial to get better results in negotiations. Ira Asherman explains how to apply them in your team through the book "Negotiation at Work".

This book is a compiled of 60 practical exercises that shows the importance of understand and study your customer before and during a negotiation. It can generate more empathy from both sides.

Linking with that, the book also shows how to prepare your team to this new methodology. Emphasizing the importance of a good organization and explaining how to achieve it

Got interested to learn these lessons and get better results? Stay with us in this summary!

About the book "Negotiation at Work"

The book "Negotiation at Work" (2012), by author Ira Asherman brings 60 exercises, from the fastest and easiest to the most complex and time-consuming, but all seek to optimize the performance of sales teams through a step-by-step of the activities to be performed.

The book defines the behaviors of a successful negotiator, as well as to demonstrate the importance of assertiveness, correct questions and the use of different negotiating styles.

In this summary, we'll cover the most practical exercises so you can start applying them today with your team.

About the author Ira Asherman

Ira Asherman offers training and consulting for the Pharmaceutical Industry with focus on building negotiation skills, and he is president of Asherman Associates.

In addition to "Negotiation at work", Ira also published other books, such as "The Negotiation Sourcebook" and "The Sales Management Sourcebook".

To whom is this book indicated?

As the author addresses many exercises to be applied in groups, this book is suitable for anyone who wants to optimize the performance of their negotiation team through practice and internal analysis.

Main ideas of the book "Negotiation at Work"

The author aims to improve the performance of a sales team. To do this, he suggests performing some activities that seek, among other things:

  • Stimulate creativity;
  • Define skills;
  • Demonstrate different trading styles;
  • Define the concept of assertiveness;
  • Demonstrate the right way to ask;
  • Define the importance of classifying income;
  • Evaluate the departments of the company;
  • Exemplify the negotiation.

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[Book Summary] Negotiation at Work - Ira Asherman

Overview: Stimulate creativity

You would not want to have a protocol team that, at the time of the negotiation, only has obvious and protocol answers, would you? The goal is to delight the customer with creative, possible, practical and applicable solutions.

Thinking about it, the book brings a practical exercise so that you can stimulate the creativity in your team. It consists of illustrate what a creative process is. For that, you should:

  • Propose a problem situation (preferably with something that your company sells) that carry a creative solution;
  • Resume brainstorming concepts so that everyone is within what this practice means;
  • Determine 15 minutes for the group to discuss possible solutions;
  • List possible, practical and applicable solutions (so the importance of doing something that your company sells).

Ira Asherman suggests a problem situation in this case:

Suppose that one of their biggest customers will order 5, 000 light glasses with their company logo for the launch of new restaurants. You are able to manufacture such products. However, due to a mistake in a previous order, you have in stock 6, 000 blue cups with basketball, baseball, and soccer balls.

Your boss suggested that you try to find a solution to make that customer buy the blue cups. Also know that the quality of the blue cups is greater than those of the transparent cups ordered.

So, what will be the solution of your team?

Overview: Defining Skills

To have a more effective team in negotiation, there is nothing better than identifying the skills and behaviors of a good negotiator.

Thus, the author advises to perform the following exercise:

  • Divide your team into groups of 4 to 6 people;
  • Ask the groups to draw up a list of possible behaviors of an effective negotiator;
  • Ask each group to draw up a list of behaviors that should be avoided in a negotiation;
  • Ask each group to select the three most important behaviors from each list and explain why they were chosen;
  • Summarize the similarities and differences of each group.

That way, your team will have the skills aligned and on track to optimize results!

Overview: The Different Styles of Negotiation

Did you know that there are 5 different styles that people adopt in the negotiations? Understanding each one can help in the approach of your team and this directly impacts on the conversion or not of a negotiation.

For Ira Asherman the styles are:

  1. Indifferent: Little receptivity and little assertiveness;
  2. Accommodate: A lot of receptivity and little assertiveness;
  3. Conciliator: Medium receptivity and medium assertiveness;
  4. Competitive: Not very receptive and very assertive;
  5. Collaborative: Very receptive and very assertive.

In addition, he characterizes each style:

  • Indifferent: "Lose-lose" style. In this style, the negotiator is passive and does not care about relationships;
  • Accommodate: "Lose-win" style. This style is for negotiators who define relationship as essential. Negotiators in this field are usually willing to set aside their needs to satisfy the needs of another;
  • Conciliator: "Conciliator" style. Here the negotiator has several opinions, but without much creativity and assertiveness;
  • Competitive: "Win-lose" style. It is the way to negotiate used by people who are very competitive and do not care about others or relationships;
  • Collaborative: "Win-win" style. Characteristic of people who are quite assertive, receptive, rigid and upright in negotiation.


The author suggests that you perform an exercise with your group:

  • At first, you must explain what each style is;
  • Suggest that each group discuss each style and determine in which situations they should or should not be used.

Possible Answers

The book "Negotiation at Work" also contains possible definitions of your team about this exercise, such as:

  • Lose-Lose: It is recommended that you rarely use, only when both parties are not giving much importance;
  • Lose-Win: Style to use when you do not give importance to the negotiation and when it is not important for the other party to win (it can happen when the other party has already made many concessions). It is not advisable to use with an aggressive negotiator;
  • Conciliator: When time is essential to you, and goals and efforts do not reward effort;
  • Win-lose: Can be used in places that do not require long-term relationships with the other party. For example: Object stores;
  • Win-win: It should be used in most negotiations, especially those in which the relationship is important and when you need to develop a solution.

Overview: The importance of defining assertiveness

Ira Asherman seeks in this part of the book to differentiate assertive behaviors from undecided ones and demonstrates how assertiveness is related to successful negotiation.

To do this, he suggests that you:

  • Divide your team into groups of 4 or 5 people;
  • Ask all groups to define, in the most possible specific way, in 20 minutes, the following items:
  • Assertive behavior;
  • Aggressive behavior;
  • Accommodate behavior.
  • Make comparisons with the differences and similarities of each group;
  • Try to find a definition of the three main behaviors of each style;
  • After that, focus on the definition of assertive behavior;
  • The next step is to discuss how assertiveness influences the negotiation and how to optimize this within the company. ,

Overview: The right way to ask

There are several forms of question, and the more comprehensive your team, better will be the results. For this, Asherman classifies the types of questions as open or closed and as to the stimulus or not of the discussion.

  1. Threatening;
  2. Opinion;
  3. Collect information;
  4. Clarify;
  5. Sum up;
  6. Identify feelings or opinions.

In order to stimulate discussion: The closer to 1, the less the stimulus for conversation. The closer to 6, the more they stimulate dialogue.

To set whether it is opened or closed: Closer to number 1 are those more closed questions, and those closer to number 6 are those opener ones.

The author suggests that you:

  • Divide your team into several small groups;
  • Ask them to develop at least 2 questions for each type defined above;
  • Discuss the impact of each question on a negotiation.

Overview: The importance of ranking the income

These exercises seek to identify a negotiator's skills, the characteristics of good planning as well as the quality of the items to consolidate customer trust. Such factors are essential for good trading.

Classifying skills

Therefore, Ira Asherman suggests that you carry out an exercise in which your employees will classify the following skills:

  1. Study the subject in negotiation;
  2. Develop an effective plan;
  3. Have high inspirations;
  4. Know when to commit;
  5. Do not put too much pressure on another person;
  6. Focus on what the other person is saying;
  7. Explore hidden needs and interests;
  8. Make your authority clear;
  9. Know the law;
  10. Be a person whom others trust;
  11. Start bargaining fast.

The classification should occur as follows:

  • Individual and on a scale of 1 to 11, in which 1 represents the most important and 11 the less important;
  • After the individual classification, the author suggests that the members divide themselves into groups and define an order of importance in the group's vision;
  • Ask the groups to inform the 3 items that had more importance;
  • Identify the differences and similarities between the classifications made by the different groups.

Classifying Planning

Similarly, he suggests that you perform another exercise in which your employees will rank the following characteristic skills of a person with good planning:

  1. Work alone;
  2. Writing down;
  3. Make the goals clear;
  4. Develop options of agreement;
  5. Identify what it will be accepted;
  6. Identify the objectives of the other party;
  7. Identify hidden needs and desires;
  8. Work with one or two people;
  9. Be emphatic;
  10. Clarify your authority;
  11. Make a list of possible concessions.

The classification must occur in the same parameters as in the previous one.

Classifying Trust

The last exercise seeks to classify, according to the degree of importance, the qualities of a person whose goal is to consolidate the trust of another person. They are:

  • Be consistent;
  • Recognize the work of others;
  • Admit the mistakes;
  • Admit when you do not know something;
  • Be fair;
  • Comply with your commitments;
  • If it is impossible to fulfill your commitments, be transparent;
  • Be honest;
  • Be willing to share information;
  • Do not betray the trust.

The priority classification occurs in the same way as the previous one:

Overview: Knowing how to differentiate positioning from need

It is extremely important to be able to differentiate what your customers says about what they really need. In this way, the Ira Asherman suggests an exercise to improve the technique to identify and differentiate these facts.

This exercise works as follows:

  • Illustrate the difference in positioning and need. The client's positioning is the visible, that's what he says. Need, on the other hand, is not so easy to visualize and therefore is implicit;
  • Ask people, individually, to write down everything they can remember from past negotiations:
  • Client placements (what customers said);
  • Hidden needs and interests;
  • How it should have been answered.
  • Ask them to divide into pairs and talk to each other about what should have been done in a given situation;
  • Lead a conversation so that all people know what could have been done differently. ,

Overview: Evaluating other departments

It is imperative that you and your team evaluate the company as a whole. To do this, ask your employees to evaluate the following:

  • Which department is evaluated?
  • Which department will be the comparison model?
  • Evaluate the performance of his department in comparing to others, on a scale from 1 to 7, which "1" means poor, "4" OK and "7" excellent.

The second evaluation is to measure the company's connection with other areas, so you should ask your team to:

  • Evaluate the relationship on a scale from 1 to 7, where "1" means suspicious and "7" confident;
  • Evaluate the relationship on a scale from 1 to 7, where "1" means competitive and "7" collaborative.

The third evaluation is guided in measuring how external departments classify the effectiveness of your department. For that, you should ask your team:

  • Rate on a scale of 1 to 7. "1" means poor, "4" represents OK and "7" excellent. To understand how external departments would rate the effectiveness of your department.

After that, you should hold a discussion meeting for each question. Priority should be given to lower rankings and also seek to devise action plans to optimize performance.

What do other authors say about it?

The author Neil Rackham brings in his book "SPIN Selling" a method of negotiation that is based on questions of situation, problem, implication and need of solution. For the author, asking quality questions is the best way to convince someone. It is definitely an essential reading for a sales force.

Robert B. Cialdini, in the book "Influence", seeks to explain how to influence people and also not to be influenced by others. In addition, it brings the six psychological principles that influence in customer decision-making. It is a good read if your goal is to improve the performance of your sales.

The book "The Sales Bible", from Jeffrey Gitomer, demonstrates good practices from some good salesperson, such as the habit of being positive when talking to a customer, and the importance of setting goals and cultivating a network of contacts.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

Because the book's idea is practical and fairly applicable, the most effective way to achieve the goal of improving your team's results is to define which aspect should be prioritized and to perform a practical exercise that focuses on improving that factor.

It is also important to emphasize that you must align and explain all these new methodologies to your group. By this organization it will be easy to apply the ideas and then reach your goals.

Did you like this summary of the book "Negotiation at Work"?

Are you ready to apply those lessons in your life? Did you find it useful? Leave your feedback in the comments!

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Book 'Negotiation at Work'