I am, literally, begging you: 7 negotiating tips from the Apprentice

alansugar

Walking out. Irrational behaviour. Cattiness. We saw it all last night in the third episode, focused on negotiation. Which negotiation & communication techniques did the luckless Apprentice candidates put into action in episode 3? IABC UK Board member Gay Flashman continues our light-hearted commentary.

Technique 1: Flutter your eyelashes

In a demonstration of feminine wiles that will surely take gender parity back a step or two, we saw the girls’ team offer to ‘marry’ the man selling crystal glasses; “je t’aime”, they added for good measure. I’m ashamed to say, it worked. They managed to practically steal the seven glasses from the avuncular Frenchman, with the price dropping from €200 to €45 in an instant.

Technique 2: The Charmer

“J’adore un petit prix”. Richard managed to use all of his charm to knock a measly 30p off the price of the cheese he was buying from a long-suffering cheese seller. Charm was in short supply amongst some of the apprentice contestants: “Vana clearly has some sort of issue with me” was just one of the catty comments emanating from the ‘girls’ team’.

Technique 3: The  ‘Nibble’ Technique:

Lawyer and negotiation guru Charles Craver writes that some negotiators can gradually drop the price paid by returning with incremental reductions. In the boat shop we saw Charleine achieve this with her bargaining on the anchor, which she negotiated down impressively from £20 to £12.50. Evidence from Charleine that it can be worth a speculative punt now and again: as she says, “I dropped in a little cheeky one”.

Technique 4: Walking out

In the boat shop again, to where the girls’ team returned a total of 4 times to discuss the inflatable boat on offer at an astronomical £250.  Elle might have walked out of the shop three times, but in the end she was limited by her options and was forced to reluctantly pay the inflated inflatable price of £200. The truth is, you can only use the ‘walking out’ trick if you have the balance of power in the negotiations.

Technique 5: Negotiate with the right person

Jenny gave up too early on her negotiations for mussels in a restaurant – she didn’t go high enough up the chain of command, and was stalled by the gatekeeper, in this case, a very polite waitress. Karren Brady rolled her eyes on camera; Jenny’s lack of gumption proved to be her fatal mistake. Remember to ensure you’re always negotiating with the person who has the power and authority to make a decision and be persistent.

Technique 6: Be ready to do a deal

At the other end of the dinghy spectrum we see Gary visiting a toy shop, pulling off a £10 purchase by having cash to hand, and a clear maximum of what he wanted to pay. It was a win for him, and for the smiling shop owner. But remember, keeping cash in your pocket might work at the market, but may not go down quite so well in the boardroom.

Technique 7: If all else fails… beg

The price for the mussels was £5.80 per kilo. Bergim’s approach:- “£5 and I’ll love you forever”. That didn’t work.

“I’m begging you.” He added.

Done deal; mussels in the bag.

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global  membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80  countries. We deliver on the ​Global Standard ​in communication through educational  offerings, certification, awards programs and our annual ​World Conference.​ Follow  us on Twitter ​@iabcuk

Gay Flashman is a former journalist and experienced communications consultant.  Gay is CEO of ​Formative Content​, a UK-based agency providing high quality blog  content, live event coverage ​and social media content ​for clients around the world.

Pitch Perfect: 5 Presentation Tips from the Apprentice

Apprentice

In our lighthearted series focusing on what communication lessons we can learn from the latest series of the BBC’s Apprentice programme we look at episode 2, Cactus Shampoo Advertising.

 

The bravado, the egos, the personality clashes – we had it all in spades in this episode. We also saw how challenging presenting can be; both teams had to present their cactus shampoo advertising campaigns to a panel of industry experts.

 

Lesson 1: Don’t underestimate your audience.

If you are pitching to a panel of high-flying ad execs you should plan, structure and develop a cogent argument with supporting evidence in a way that really sells your product.

In the Cactus Secret presentation from Natalie and the women’s team we heard: “The green bottle was chosen… because… the cactus was green”.  Stating the obvious isn’t going to cut it.

 

Lesson 2: Don’t insult your audience

Following closely on from lesson 1: “Sometimes 45 year olds can be reluctant to try new things”, said one of the 20-something women presenting to 46 year old millionaire and business guru Karren Brady.

Doh! Make sure you research who you’re presenting to, understand who they are and what their experience is, before you launch into to a miscalculated pitch.

 

Lesson 3: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

If you are chosen to present make sure you have rehearsed multiple times; sometimes the most confident person is the person who dries up under pressure.

Scott was over-confident from the start: “I’m going to smash it,” he told us.

He dried up. He froze. It was painful.

One of the best ways to get prepared for a presentation is to say the first few lines of your presentation out loud at least 2 or 3 times before you are on site.

Consider doing some positive visualisation – imagine yourself walking on stage and visualise yourself welcoming your audience and speaking the first few lines of the presentation.

 

Lesson 4: Take notes, even if you don’t use them

The brain can play many tricks on us – one of these is emptying completely of all vital information as soon as you’re in a ‘fight or flight’ situation, and standing in front of an alien audience is one of these types of situation. This is what happened to Scott.

“I like to be free with my presenting, I don’t need any of those cards or anything”, said Scott prophetically before he started. We knew it would end in tears.

Whether you need them or not, take notes with you. Make sure you have worked on what you’re going to say and have a clear idea of the content and the narrative of your presentation.

This can help stop you over-running or under-running, and will also ensure you have something to turn to if you dry up.

 

Lesson 5: Relax

Finally, if you’ve prepared properly, and you’ve rehearsed your presentation you’ll find it so much easier to relax into your presentation.

“We’re delighted to be here today” Natalie opened up with – but we  didn’t believe her. She looked awkward, her fists were clenched, and we could hear that her mouth was dry. We willed her on, as did her team-mates but she looked like a woman about to head for the scaffold.

Sir Alan hit the nail on the head: “You were boring” said Sir Alan.

If you’re relaxed and look like you’re enjoying it, then your audience will react better. You may even be able to add the odd joke or to…

 

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global  membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80  countries. We deliver on the ​Global Standard ​in communication through educational  offerings, certification, awards programs and our annual ​World Conference.​ Follow  us on Twitter ​@iabcuk

Gay Flashman is a former journalist and experienced communications consultant.  Gay is CEO of ​Formative Content​, a UK-based agency providing high quality blog  content, live event coverage ​and social media content ​for clients around the world.

Most of all I want the POWER: communication insights from the Apprentice

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of (left to right) Karren Brady, Lord Sugar and Claude Littner ahead of the start of this year's BBC1 programme, The Apprentice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday October 6, 2015. See PA story SHOWBIZ Apprentice. Photo credit should read: Jim Marks/Boundless/BBC/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

In this light-hearted blog series, IABC UK Board members provide commentary on the leadership and communication skills apparent – or not apparent – each week on the UK series of The Apprentice, hosted by Alan Sugar.

 

The first week of the series is always slightly odd, with 18 candidates each trying to make an individual impact.

“I want the cars, I want the girls”

One of the things communicators often recommend is that a leader needs to have a vision. However, a terrible vision is possibly worse than no vision at all.

Exhibit 1: two of the ‘vision’ statements from this year’s crop of candidates:

– “I want the cars, I want the girls, but most of all I want the power.”

– “Every morning I wake up with a surge of adrenaline around my body because I want to be a global phenomenon.”

Ridiculous. On the other hand, we also had this:

“The Trailblazer is a fully managed and implemented business growth campaign that starts with a focused base camp to remove the clouds from our clients’ business growth mountain so they clearly can see the summit we are aiming for.”

Lord Sugar’s response to this? The usual, straight-talking: “What a load of bollocks!”

The best vision is, of course, somewhere between these extremes.

Throw yourself into the thought pond

Of course before even creating a vision, your organization needs a name:

“Can I throw my thought into the thought pond and suggest that we call ourselves the Sugarbabes?”

Sorry: you just killed the fish. It won’t surprise you to hear this came from the mouth of the candidate who got kicked out this week.

Now, you have a name and a vision, so you will need a leader.

What credentials do you look for in a leader for a task that is food-related? Witness this exchange:

Candidate A: “Has anyone got any experience in food?”

Candidate B: “I do have some knowledge about food. I cook. And I’m intolerant to loads of food.”

Candidate C: “Because of what you said, I’d be stupid not to say yourself.”

Brilliant! Do none of the other team members eat?

Eventually, these two competing organizations (teams) got their names, visions and leaders sorted out and were able to tackle the work at hand.  These three ingredients are the keys to success for any company; and it is the job of communicators at the top of an organization to help communicate these things to create long-term success.

Engage your brain at some point

So, what was the result?

Team Connexus: 9 people, profit £1.87. That’s 20p each for a whole day’s work (at that rate Lord Sugar’s £250,000 could hire these nine people for 133,000 days, or 366 years).

In this case the failure of the task was down to poor project management and bad product design: and a focus on ‘adhering to the specification’ without questioning the bigger picture.

The good communicator and the good leader will always create an environment where people can think beyond their own role and process, and “engage your brain at some point”.

Having a name, a vision, and a leader is clearly not enough. These three need to be aligned and leaders need to create the conditions for others to do their best work.

Communications expertise aside, what have we really learned?

  1. No one will buy a salad that costs £9.00.
  2. If you eat, that qualifies you to be a leader.
  3. You can hire an Apprentice for 20p a day.

We’ll be back tomorrow, and commenting on the car crash that is almost guaranteed to occur when the apprentices tackle the wonderful world of shampoo.

Or as Lord Sugar’s bad puns would have it: “it’s going to be a bad hair day.”

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global  membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80  countries. We deliver on the ​Global Standard ​in communication through educational  offerings, certification, awards programs and our annual ​World Conference.​ Follow  us on Twitter ​@iabcuk

Stephen Welch  is currently working at Dialog Semiconductor, leading the development of the Communications Department; to ensure continued success of this fast-growing business. He has expertise in helping organizations improve their communications to support culture change, innovation, communication, leadership development.