International negotiations over email can be extremely unpredictable. Losing a good deal can happen extremely fast if you’re not prepared. People are used to various bargaining styles in markets like China, India, USA, and the Middle East. Some people are calmer and more relaxed; others are aggressive and overly-confident.
What’s great about online negotiations is that opponents cannot use conventional techniques to intimidate. Written words are not intimidating, tone of voice and body language are. So it’s safe to say that when used right, negotiations over email can help you land the sweetest deal.
1. Building rapport with international negotiators over email
It’s tough to build rapport over an email, especially if you’re dealing with international negotiators. In Europe, people have different perceptions and their email etiquette varies. Here are some examples:
- Danish people are tolerant, helpful, and open with foreigners; however, they don’t feel comfortable including personal matters when talking business
- Swedes are realistic business people; they don’t like conflictual situations and they’re more open to compromise and making concessions
- Germans are target-oriented, direct and professional; some may consider them too cold and precise, yet they’re reasonable and logical
- French people are patriotic, and sometimes that can be considered a defect; if you want to impress French negotiators, send your emails in French. They will certainly appreciate it
- Greeks are extremely welcoming individuals; they’re used to foreigners and they’re friendly, even in business negotiations
2. Keep your eyes on the prize
Never take your eyes from the prize, even if you’re bargaining online. Just because you’re trying to settle on an international deal over an email, this doesn’t mean you are allowed to leave your guard down.
Be prepared to answer emails very fast, and try to be as concise as possible with your demands. Some Europeans are friendlier than others, which is why it is so important to understand the culture of the person with whom you’re dealing with.
3. Never take things personal
Germans and French are business-oriented individuals and characterise Western European countries, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Negotiations should be pursued in the most professional way possible, even if they’re done over email. On the other hand, in Southern European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, email negotiations have a friendlier tone. Of course, it’s really important to stay professional and maintain a polite attitude.
If you’re the type of person who is a little bit shy and anxious, asking for what you want in an email may seem a lot simpler. It’s ok to be willing to compromise; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean giving up too much. Have a deeply rooted goal in mind, and use suitable words to make your negotiation email both convincing and rational.
4. Know the people with whom you’re negotiating
One of the toughest parts of online negotiations is that you can never really know the person behind the other computer. It could be a skilled negotiator or a newbie with a flair for fancy words. If you have to deal with international negotiations over email, do some research and get to know the culture first. For example, Americans are independent and they would rather work alone than in a team, while the Japanese work in groups and they’re extremely focused on teamwork.
Europeans have different principles, too. Try not to make cultural mistakes when dealing with Polish people. Know basic aspects such as cities, government official, national days, and so on, if you want to impress a negotiator. Adopt a similar approach with the British, who are extremely fond of their country and of their customs and traditions.
Online, things are a bit different. You are 100% sure that you’re talking to someone in China, when all of a sudden you end up sending emails to an assistant from a different country. If you want to know the person you’re bargaining with, ask the right questions. Mention specific facts and numbers ask for proof for every allegation made, and be polite. Just because you’re emailing this doesn’t mean you can be rude. Use words carefully and keep things professional.
5. Add a personal touch to your approach
International negotiations over an email can be extremely challenging. Many business people are skeptic when it comes to closing deals after a couple of messages. The key to making an opponent trust you, is to add a personal touch to your negotiation strategy. Since you can’t use conventional techniques, you must work with what you have to win. Share your LinkedIn profile with your partners for example, let them get to know you, assess your work and your background. They can make a general opinion, which means your chances to seal a good deal will increase automatically.
Dealing with international negotiations online may seem challenging at first, but with some negotiation training, you will eventually make it. Trying to reach an agreement just by emailing will certainly put your patience to the ultimate test. Be honest and rational, and ask for what you want without sounding too persistent. At the end of every email, don’t forget to disclose as much information as possible about you and your company, in order to build trust and let a counterpart know that your business is an open book.