Important note: This conversation has been minimally edited from transcription in order to retain the authenticity of the conversation.. Any mistakes in editing and/or transcription are mine, not Chris’s.
Today I am incredibly honored to be sharing with you a very special interview that I did with one of my absolute favorite authors. I read one of his books and it changed the way that I go into negotiations, AND how I see business and finance.
Reading his book and then MEETING him were moments that changed everything for me in business and in sales and negotiations.
I’m talking about none other than Chris Voss.
Chris is the CEO and founder of the Black Swan Group, as well as the author of, Never Split the Difference.
Chris Voss was actually the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s hostage working group during Chris’s 24 year tenure in the bureau.
He was trained in the art of negotiation, not only by the FBI but also by Scotland Yard and Harvard Law School and is also a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service.
Note: Chris is so tough to get ahold of, his executive assistant did not believe that he agreed to an interview with me until we provided actual proof of our conversation.
I know you’re going to absolutely love this interview.
Rachel: I read your book, never split the difference at the recommendation. My mentor said ‘Rachel, just read this book.’ It has radically transformed my business, Chris.
Chris: Wow, fantastic. You’re pretty darn successful to begin with. So if it’s helped then, really happy to hear that.
Rachel: The level of confidence that I’ve been bringing to a lot of intimidating conversations with huge companies has been so wonderful. So I want to thank you for that.
Chris: Wow. Wow. That’s a very high compliment. Thank you. My pleasure. I’m happy. This has helped me.
Rachel: A few years ago, I probably would not have described myself as someone who was a great negotiator. And I’m starting to see that skill set develop. So is that something that you learned throughout your life or were those kind of skills already in your DNA?
Chris: I think I learned it throughout my life. I mean, I’m, I’m a little bit of a subscriber to Daniel Coil and the talent code, which is probably very little as actually in our DNA. You know, people that uh, look like naturals or prodigies or for whatever reason they had success… They enjoyed it and then, or something happened that caused them to enjoy it and then you, you know, follow your bliss. Lack of a better term. So, no, I mean, I think, uh, I, I don’t think there’s much, it’s actually in our DNA at all actually.
Rachel: I love that. One thing that you mentioned throughout the book were different stories of people who were not naturally negotiators. They hadn’t had any training either and they’d come to you and present a situation and you would solve it, give a script and you’d say, don’t deviate from the script. Right? I noticed that most of the deals that were lost were because people deviated from the script. One of the things that I find really interesting is you really give people a recipe for success in negotiating. Is it really that simple?
Chris: You know, kinda is. When people have a problem either it’s counterintuitive or we throw an idea at them, um, that, uh, runs contrary to their wiring, if you will.
For example, the phrase that we teach the people, ‘have you given up on this project? Have you given on x?’ Whatever it is, send it out as a one line text or one line email to somebody who stopped responding to you, they’re gonna respond very quickly.
I mean the batting average on that is really high.
Rachel: I love that. Um, that’s something I teach. So many of my students just follow the recipe. It might not be easy, but it’s simple.
Chris: Try to make it simple. That’s, that’s a great point.
Rachel: Absolutely. So one question I have for you is talking a little bit about negotiating. Some people assume that negotiating is like the negotiating is like what we see on TV, right. And you know exactly what I’m talking about. People are slamming their hands down on the desk, they’re pointing fingers and they’re yelling.
And the moment that I think of negotiating, I think I’m going to have to play hardball and I would gear up and brace up and get really kind of crazy.
Chris: No. And I, that’s what there is to bad negotiating, you know, bad, really bad negotiating. I mean, and other people that are really great negotiators do, do any of that kind of nonsense. I mean, their patient, um, they don’t pack people into a corner. They don’t make threats. No.
That’s not to say that you can’t be successful with those bad habits, you know, cause we get some poster children out there that seem to be successful with those bad habits. First of all, they’re a minority. Yeah. Secondly, they’re not as successful as it could have been.
The hard bargainers in business. You know, they leave so much money on the table. They don’t know how much value they destroyed or how many deals that they’ve lost because of that. So yeah, it’s not about slamming your hands on the table and being the loudest, angriest person in the room.
Rachel: Then I think about like Warren Buffet for example, who is basically his, he has a negotiating tactic, tactic of not negotiating categorically. And he recently came out and said that, which I found really interesting. Do you think that there’s still money left on the table for anyone who says, I don’t negotiate?
Chris: Well, that in and of itself is a, is a negotiation approach and it, um, what people are really saying is, look, I’m open to better ideas, but if you think you’re going to change the price, you’re wrong. Wow. Now I promise you, if you sat down with Warren Buffet and you said, ‘hey look, one, here’s how we can make this work better. Here’s how we, everybody’s going to get more money out of this.’ You begin to justify the non price terms, Warren Buffett, a smart enough guy, first of all, he’s going to listen to you. You know, he wants to hear people out.
If I don’t go straight primarily is we’re not budget on the price and I gotta tell you we don’t budge on our price and my company, I talk with you a lot about implementation and we’ll talk with you about the other terms of the deal and we’ll always look, make them deal better.
But do we negotiate on a price unless you throw something a lot more viable than dollars on the table.
To listen to the full podcast click here and select “How to Negotiate: NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE by Chris Voss – INTERVIEW”