What Brexit blues? How savvy UK businesses are prospering in the face of adversity

Business Insights

As new research reveals nearly half of UK businesses believe Brexit will have a long-term positive impact, Tony Hughes, CEO at negotiation specialist Huthwaite International, discusses what this means for the future of business in the UK, and what measure businesses should be taking to ensure their outlook remains positive.

Looking on the bright side of Brexit

It’s understandable that the majority of the UK is in apparent turmoil over the outcome of Brexit; unsure about whether Boris Johnson will succeed in removing the country from the EU without a deal, or whether he will be able to renegotiate terms which both sides can amiably agree to, the unknown is something many are fearing. However, with enough preparation, Britain’s businesses needn’t be operating in fear, and some of Huthwaite’s latest research has shown just this - Britain’s businesses remaining positive regardless.

Huthwaite International’s brand-new state-of-the-nation study into how UK businesses are prepared for Brexit has revealed a staggering 42% of businesses believe the process of exiting the EU is currently having a positive impact on their business, while 34% feel it hasn’t had any impact at all, and with 70% of businesses believing their growth potential will prosper post-Brexit, regardless of the outcome, it’s certainly reaffirming. However, while it’s a great reflection for business leaders and business confidence today, understandably, the short-term remains a concern. When questioned, business cited economic instability, uncertainty around new trade agreements and restrictions to international trade, ranking amongst the biggest concerns post-Brexit.

The role of effective negotiation in business

it is these concerns around trade and partnerships where businesses in the UK need to place their own negotiations skills at the forefront of their strategy. Regardless of what agreements Mr Johnson and the EU come to, one of the few certainties the UK faces is that, for selling organisations, things are getting tougher. As buying organisations entrench, delaying or even cancelling purchasing decisions, sales teams across all sectors and markets are having to up their game. This means sophisticated negotiation skills aren’t just important to ensure the UK secures a quality deal with the EU, but also form the fundamentals for securing business success across the UK too.

Mastering the science of negotiation is essential for UK businesses. Not only will this help to safeguard profits, internal and external purchasing and reducing overheads, it also helps companies prepare for a change in trading internationally post-Brexit. As striking a deal is likely become more complex, we see the smartest businesses leaders flexing negotiating capabilities to ensure they make, and don’t break their businesses. These leaders all understand one thing; that these great negotiations start in the planning phase, right through to how you act in the room.

Leading businesses understand that preparation is the single most important differentiator between average and highly skilled negotiators. This includes a number of key steps, including; developing a credible fallback, identifying as many negotiable issues as possible in order of priority, calculating the cost of concessions for each negotiable issue to avoid impulsive and expensive mistakes in the heat of battle, identifying ‘common ground’ and planning how to utilise it in the negotiation, and finally, considering each of these steps from the position of the other party. It’s all about managing power in the situation, identifying the possible overlaps, trades and levers to give maximum flexibility when bargaining, and thinking creatively on how to use these in order to gain added value from negotiations.

And, whilst preparing and planning are fine, we all face impromptu negotiations with no time for either. When this happens, all we have to fall back on are our personal negotiating skills. The stereotypical image of the negotiator as a hard-faced and intractable character is incorrect, but skilled negotiators have wide behavioural repertoires and the flexibility to match their behaviour to suit the situation.

The makeup of a sophisticated negotiator

It’s essential that individuals learn and develop great negotiation techniques, however businesses should take a look at how these are employed across the wider company. If a business fails to embrace the benefits effective negotiation can offer, it risks missing an opportunity to save huge amounts of capital, not to mention improve margin. Huthwaite’s research shows that leading UK businesses with a systematic approach to sales and negotiation experience 42.7% greater growth to the bottom line than those without. This fact alone highlights the importance of applying effective negotiation techniques to drive profitability across an organisation.

Reassuringly, our research found that UK businesses are now beginning to recognise the importance of investing in improving negotiation skills as this ranked as the biggest priority amongst businesses before the Brexit deadline. And it’s these negotiation skills which will be integral to the success. Gaining the skillset and knowledge to survive this economic uncertainty is vital for business success. The UK is packed with ambitious and prosperous companies that in theory should flourish regardless of economic uncertainty, however the importance of obtaining the core skillsets to flourish shouldn’t be underestimated.

Huthwaite International is a leading global provider of sales, negotiation and communication skills development. It supports companies around the world with behavioural methodologies which are research-based and measurable.

For more information, visit www.huthwaiteinternational.com