Everybody in business, at some point in time, has to conduct negotiations. The objective might be anything from deciding on contractual terms for a job offer through to closing a major sale or even getting a discount or better service from a vendor. The big question is; “how do you get the best out of the negotiations you enter into?” While that can, and does, vary depending on the negotiation here are 10 tips that can help you win any negotiation:
Know What You Want And What You Can Give Up
Many negotiations start with a single objective but in truth there are always a ton of smaller objectives; if you can work out exactly what you want and what you might be willing to trade away to get there – you’re on excellent footing. In many cases the other party won’t have done this and when they’re fuzzier on what they want to achieve than you are; there’s plenty of room for you to squeeze out concessions without surrendering anything of value.
Research The Other Party
In many negotiations it’s easy to find out a little more about the person you will be dealing with. You want to focus on the pressures that they face and what they need. You might also want to think about the options they have at the negotiating table. The more you know about their position – the more you can anticipate where they will go during the negotiation and be ready to counter things that you aren’t happy to accept.
Begin By Being Silent
If you want to learn what matters to the other party in your negotiation; the trick is to shut up and listen. It can be tempting to rush to your own agenda and start driving it forward like a bull in a China shop but that won’t help. You can’t assume you know what’s important to the other party; you have to learn it. Active listening can help you clarify their expectations but other than that – try not to talk and focus on hearing what the other party has to say.
Ask For What You Want
It’s amazing how many people enter into a negotiation who can’t clearly state what their preferred outcome would be. If the other party doesn’t know what you want – they almost certainly can’t give it to you. That doesn’t mean laying down a list of demands but it does mean clearly stating your objective. For example; “You will have to give us XYZ to make this work.” is a demand. Whereas; “The only way this can work for me is if we can get XYZ.” is a clear statement of expectation without being pushy.
Relax, Take Your Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and negotiations aren’t usually over in seconds (unless you’re very lucky). This is even more important when you step outside of your own culture. American business culture is brusque and to the point but in much of the world – negotiations are really about relationship building and they take much, much longer. In those cultures the faster the negotiation concludes; the more you gave away without thinking about it. A quick win might turn out to be a major long-term loss.
Be Prepared To Walk Away
In any negotiation process; there’s a point where you can and should cut and run. That’s when it becomes clear that the other person either cannot or will not cede things that are essential for you in the negotiation. Sometimes walking away is all it will take to trigger a concession; other times it’s just going to save you a bunch of time because there’s no win available to you. Either way, it’s an essential part of your negotiation strategy.
Put Your Fear To One Side
Want to know something about negotiations? In almost every negotiation both parties are nervous. For example if you’re closing a multi-million dollar deal; you might be nervous about the commission potential or even your job security if things go wrong. The other party is likely to be nervous about their job prospects if what they buy doesn’t deliver on the promise. If you put your fear to one side; it can no longer work against you and you can concentrate on alleviating the other party’s fears during the negotiation.
Remember, It’s Not Personal
Well, for the main part it’s not personal. Negotiations between friends and family might stray over the line at times but in business – it’s rarely personal. Don’t see an unattractive offer as a rejection of you as a person; see it as an opportunity to present your case in a stronger light. In general one party will be trying to maximize what they get and the other will be trying to minimize what they give; that’s normal and there’s no insult in trying to do either of those things.
Don’t Make Concessions Without Something in Return
Each time you give something up; the other party should be repaying the favor. In essence when you make a concession it should sound something like this; “If I do ABC for you, then I would expect you to do XYZ in return.” The more someone has to work for a concession; the more likely they are to value it and to see it as earned rather than something given by right. It also makes them less likely to ask for further concessions.
Aim For The Moon And Expect To Get It
There’s no real power in positivity but if you don’t aim high when you open a negotiation – you cannot expect to get what you want. As any sales person will tell you; you can discount a price but you can never increase it. Thus an optimistic opening on any negotiation puts you in a much better place to succeed. If you’re selling; you should always ask for more money that you’d be happy to settle for. If you’re buying; you should always offer less money that you’d be prepared to pay. You’ll be amazed at how often people will pay more than your “absolute minimum” or how many people leave cash on the table because they were in a rush to settle.
To get good at negotiations takes time and practice. It’s also important to remember that the best negotiations aren’t win-lose but rather win-win. If you want to keep a good relationship with the other person ensuring they get what they want as well as you getting what you want is a vital skill. These ten tips should give you a head start in developing winning negotiation skills.