The world-famous The Godfather trilogy, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the novel by Mario Puzo, has become one of the most acclaimed productions of recent film history. The story of the Corleone family, watched again and again by many viewers, can have a didactic function (if you leave the criminal side out) through its characters and plots. Here are 10 tips to boost your selling skills taken from the film:
1. Gather information
Vito Corleone asks his son Michael to thoroughly investigate his rivals. During negotiations, the most delicate and most important stage is the exchange of information, before making any proposals. There are courses on negotiation that teach how to improve the ability to understand the other party and discover the keys to communicating a proposal with a greater impact. When negotiations begin, it is better to ask questions, inquire and gather as much information as possible about our interlocutor. This way, we will get to know their weaknesses and strengths, which we will be able to use at the time of closing a deal.
2. Be confident, be assertive
Don Vito needs to show assurance and self-confidence so as to properly defend his interests. The character played by Marlon Brando is not afraid to say what he thinks, and he says it without necessarily looking to please the other party, but also trying not to offend (he maintains an empathy, albeit assertive). Besides expressing firmness and determination, it is necessary to maintain a coherent and consistent attitude that will show self-confidence.
3. Be patient
Reaching an agreement quickly is not so easy. The protagonist of The Godfather would sit back, remain silent for a long time and listen to the counterpart before making a decision. It’s not about adopting an arrogant attitude like Corleone’s, but about being patient throughout the process in order to reach an agreement.
4. Accept advice
Listening to the other party during the exchange of information, as we have said before, is essential to find out what the interests of others are and so adapt our proposal accordingly. However, as Vito Corleone, negotiators should accept advice from someone they trust, like a mentor who offers advice and different points of view. Thus, in The Godfather, Corleone has Tom Hagen, his expert advisor.
5. Don’t lose sight of your interests or your “vision”
Corleone’s character is tempted to enter the world of drug trafficking, but the protagonist of The Godfather strongly refuses because his real goal is that his businesses become legal and he may even become a senator. The Corleone family is into the business of gambling and prostitution, considered more harmless types of vice, but drugs would spoil that “legality” project and therefore he opposes it. In this case, Don Vito places his objectives over potential economic benefits. A golden rule to be a good negotiator is to be true to our interests from the beginning to the end, defending the “vision” of your company, whatever it is.
6. Leave your emotions aside
As human beings, we are not free from mood changes, on a daily basis. Some people can control them better than others, but when we sit down to negotiate and make a decision, we should try not to let our emotions have an influence on us. Michael Corleone would say: “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.” In other words, avoid making decisions or enunciating proposals at times when you feel emotionally vulnerable.
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
7. Build up relationships
If there’s anything characteristic of good negotiators, that is their skill to establish relations in the medium and long term. The protagonists of The Godfather constantly ask for favors, develop friendships, and build up relationships of loyalty. From Coppola’s film we learn the importance of building mutual trust to encourage a mentality oriented towards long-term collaboration.
8. Be flexible
One of the most famous quotes from The Godfather reads: “if one of my friends should make enemies, then they would become my enemies.” In business and negotiations, it is advisable to keep open any collaboration channels, since that person who is a competitor today, can be a partner or someone who can help us meet our interests tomorrow. The lesson we draw from this idea is flexibility, being adaptable and not closing any doors.
9. Make offers they won’t be able to refuse
Leaving aside the criminal element present in the films, most of us have paraphrased Vito Corleone addressing Johnny Fontane: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Applied to our lessons on negotiating, it’s about learning how to present the right proposal that will satisfy both parties, so that the offer will be truly irresistible. Mutual trust is easier to get with win-win agreements, which will strengthen the ties between both parties for future negotiations.
10. Adapt yourself to your environment
In order to reach solutions, it is imperative to be flexible and able to adapt to changes that occur during a negotiation process. Unlike what we see in the The Godfather films, you can’t always dictate the terms on which negotiations are developed. Adaptation, therefore, is vital for success.
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