Let’s make a deal.
That’s not just the title of a TV game show. Knowing how to do it can be the key to having a successful career.
For some, deal making comes easy. For some, it’s the biggest challenge they’ll ever face.
For all, it’s a skill that can be honed and refined.
In his book, “Only the Crazy and Fearless Win BIG! The Surprising Secrets to Success in Business and in Life,” author Arthur Wylie, identifies six helpful keys to deal making in any industry.
Those keys involve:
- Knowing your value.
- Personal relationships.
- Getting buy in.
- Being humble.
- Tying it all together.
“Deal making is a craft that, when done well, requires a skillful, visionary and inspired application of key principles and methods to create a desirable end result,” Wylie said.
Wylie believes everyone needs to be able to negotiate and make deals successfully in their everyday life, but this skill is especially important to young professionals.
Think about it: interviewing for that first job or internship, increasing your current salary, negotiating grant or project development money, adding positive business relationships to your network or even buying your first home or car.
Most importantly, it can give a young professional the edge:
“It separates young professionals that want to fast track their career in a very challenging and competitive economy,” he said.
A Voice of Experience
AAPG Young Professional member Felipe Medellin, a consulting geologist for BeicipFranlab in Cajica, Colombia, is an example of a young professional whose career has been fast-tracked due to his ability to make deals for his company.
“My very first experience related to sales projects was at last year’s AAPG Imperial Barrel Award competition,” Medellin said. “At that time, my team and I (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) had to sell our prospect to a high quality panel of geologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers and managers.”
Medellin believes identifying this talent and performing a negotiation/deal making role for his company has allowed him to improve faster and stand out more in the company, especially when it comes to his interpersonal skills.
“The ability to spend time and reunite with several CEOs, managers and technical specialists in different companies in the oil and gas industry will give you enough support to work with people in all levels with different goals,” he said.
“You can be known from the very beginning of your career as a person who can handle different issues, and who can face challenges from technical topics to business environment,” he added.
So, how does the academic advice presented by Wylie mesh with the real-world reality of a working young professional?
Know your value.
First, know your goal, Wylie says. What are you trying to accomplish? While you cannot predict every possible result that the other party desire to reach, you can be in control by showing them what you can offer or do.
“This means researching all the potential benefits and ways that your idea, product or service could help the other party,” Wylie said.
“Know it, own it, control it,” is Wylie’s slogan.
Medellin’s take: “Knowing your value can be the easier key, but the challenge is to provide that information or knowledge to your clients or board team. This topic is all about learning how to express yourself.”
People need to feel comfortable when doing business, so conveying to the other side who you are as an individual – along with where your values lie – will make them trust you more.
“You learn about them; they learn about you,” Wylie said about relationships. “It’s a two-way street. Both parties must feel a chemistry of sorts.”
Wylie believes deals can close very quickly and effortlessly when people have come to know and trust you, or if there is a good reputation that precedes you.
To Medellin, this is the most important key.
“If you know most of the board or customer’s needs, it could be easier to find the way to involve people in your project,” Medellin said. “Since the oil and gas industry is a small network, you can know a large professional spectrum quickly.”
To establish relationships quicker, find commonalities – like sports, educations or hobbies. Understand what values are important to them in life and business by looking at their history. And allow the other party to express themselves without interruptions.
“Other decision-making factors are not always based on the facts, hard evidence and rational thinking, but gut instincts, comfort level, emotions, feelings, aptitude to learn, risk tolerance, ego, past experiences and perceived consequences and rewards.”
In other words, don’t give them a reason to dislike you.
Get buy in.
This part can be a challenge – but remembering the WIIFM factor can help.
WIIFM is “What’s in it for me,” and it needs to be made clear to the other party.
“A critical step in artful deal making is to convey and articulate your vision of the outcome in such a way that the opposing party will desire that very same outcome,” Wylie suggests.
“It’s all about trust,” Medellin commented. “If you did a good job in the previous three keys, the panel will trust you, and they will be able to understand the project in the way you do it.”
Have humility with backbone, the author likes to say.
“You have to be humble, but firm.” A deal maker or negotiator must always respect the positions of the other people involved. They must be fair and honest and keep their intentions pure. Yet, at the same time, they must show the other party that they have the ability and desire to perform the desired task. Humility with a backbone.
Some suggestions from the author:
- Ask questions to truly understand concerns and goals – even if you think you might already know the answers. Also, show empathy and understanding for their goals, as if they were your own.
- Make sure you are very aware of your body language. Make eye contact, smile when appropriate, nod to show understanding.
- Listen, compliment and do not over-talk.
- Be malleable in your understanding, and show compassion on things you cannot do.
- ALWAYS be in control of your words and actions. If you disagree, handle it respectfully.
“As a young professional, most of the time you don’t know all the answers,” Medellin admitted. “Being humble is the best way to learn and become a specialist.”
This is “knowing when to do what,” Wylie explained.
“Successful persuaders, whether politicians, managers or sales people, are distinguished by a certain style characteristic,” he said. “They express their ideas … in a positive and optimistic way. Most importantly, they are themselves.”
“You don’t want to be untimely or unpleasant to anybody,” Medellin added. “This is a small world.”
Have swagger or confidence, the author said – but without being arrogant.
Medellin’s view on the importance of confidence: “It isn’t only about signing a paper – you need to reach your scheduled goals step-by-step. If you are successful, you can assure a happy ending for the ongoing project, but most importantly, you can obtain doors for the future.”
Tying it all together.
“It’s like a car,” Wylie said. “You can have the best engine but no wheels, which means you’re not going anywhere. Each point is essential and must work together as one cohesive unit to get from point A to B.”
Keep in mind, Wylie continued, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, so conquering negotiating skills isn’t going to happen that quickly either. Start small before attempting to hit the Big Leagues.”
Medellin agreed in how important learning is in the process of becoming a successful young professional.
“Don’t be afraid to learn,” he said. “Yes, we are young, but we are the future – (and) this industry is growing.”