In a number of professions, particularly sales-based roles, negotiating and influencing skills are essential for closing deals and to driving strategic decisions. But what about these skills for data analysts, like you? Are they less crucial, perhaps?
Absolutely not, here’s why:
Data without context is meaningless
Your job is to provide insights that facilitate business negotiations on a daily basis. But when delivered in a vacuum, these insights are potentially meaningless.
You should provide a data narrative, give your audience an informed opinion, and make influential suggestions to the wider business. This process will help guide your audience to a conclusion from your data insights, whilst helping them make sense of your information.
Visibility drives credibility
If negotiating and influencing is slightly out of your comfort zone, don’t panic; you’re not alone. A large number of data analysts prefer to stay out of sight, wrangling data behind closed doors.
Without delivering your insights in a meaningful and emotionally-led way, however, you’re less likely to boost your position in the business. What’s more, influencing your audience gives you the opportunity to showcase the importance of your work, and provides you with more recognition for your role. Essentially, visibility equals credibility.
You’ll face opposing views
Whilst it’s important to understand your audience’s goals, sometimes—often, even—their opinions will not align with your recommendations, or with each others. You may need a way to resolve your differences and ‘bring your audience round’ in a considered way.
In the process of negotiation, not only should you take different opinions into account, but also individuals’ needs, aims, interests, culture and differences. It keeps your customers on your side, whilst thoughtfully guiding them to an informed decision.
A win:win approach might drive better results
As mentioned, you may learn that not all your stakeholders agree with your recommendations. Influencing and negotiating is less about ‘getting your own way’ than bringing everyone to a positive conclusion.
Rather than influencing your stakeholders to support your views only, try to influence your audience towards a collaborative conclusion in which everyone gains something, despite compromise. It helps to have a number of potential suggestions and positive recommendations to present, in this instance.
Remember, whilst a win:lose outcome might work for you, it might not be the best outcome for the business as a whole.
Take a strategic approach
Often, soft skills like negotiating do not come naturally to data analysts, but they can certainly be nurtured. Taking the time develop these skills, as well as crafting a negotiation strategy in future, prepares you for multiple business scenarios.
There are influencing and negotiating workshops, like those run by Demarq Academy, designed specifically for data analysts. Such courses help analysts develop more persuasive arguments for influencing the mindsets and actions of their stakeholders.
As a data analyst, if you can understand both your own negotiating style, as well as identify the emotional and business needs of your audience, you’ll be best armed to influence the actions of even the most top-level decision makers.