Good negotiators know it’s not all about winning. Great negotiators understand that the best case scenario almost always involves a win for each party. The goal of any worthwhile negotiation is to leave both sides with a feeling of value and a mutual benefit. Successful negotiations require a bit of planning, prep work, and compromise.
Here are 9 quick tips to help you negotiate better.
- Clearly define your goal(s). Don’t turn a good negotiation into a battle of pride. You can do this by deciding beforehand what terms absolutely have to be met, and which are optional. Do your homework to see at what point continuing to negotiate begins to cost you or your business too much time or money. It doesn’t hurt to write the non-negotiables out on paper for a quick reference and reminder.
- Determine the value of everything that is at stake. Decide beforehand what is of value to you, and what you’d be willing to budge on. If you’re negotiating the terms of a promotion, for example, you may decide that accepting a slightly lower salary with a full range of benefits is more beneficial than a higher salary with lesser benefits.
- Establish ground rules. It’s a good idea to set some ground rules before entering the negotiation with a quick email or phone call. This is especially true if you feel that the person you’re going to be negotiating with is less than honest or may have difficulty communicating with you.
- Don’t make the first move. Avoid giving away more than you need to by holding back a bit and allowing the other party to speak first. You don’t know what their aspirations are and it’s best to get those out on the table before you begin to define yours. Talking too much could leave you worse off than talking too little.
- Don’t give up something without getting something. Negotiating is a give-and-take process, and the key to any successful negotiation is a foundation of trust and communication. When a party asks for a concession, respond with “what will you give in return?” before you make your decision.
- Give a little, but not too much. Again, successful negotiations benefit both parties. Avoid giving away too much in order to impress or keep a client/vendor/customer on the line. If you feel that too much is being asked of you in the negotiation without any benefit on your part, it’s okay to take the time to reconsider or even walk away.
- Don’t overreach. It’s never a good idea to go into a negotiation with wild aspirations and far-fetched demands. Keep in mind what you’re realistically going to gain in the negotiation, and shoot for that. Put yourself in the opposite party’s situation and consider what you’d do if you were being asked the same.
- Focus on what you will do. Keep the conversation positive and shed light on the will-do’s and can-do’s rather than the negatives. Try to avoid saying “no” outright, but rather wording it as “I will do this, if you will do that.”
- Don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember the bottom line and stick to it. It’s not much different from buying a car. No matter how good of a deal the salesman says he’s making you, no matter how many extras he throws in, if he won’t come down to the price you want, it’s a losing deal on your end.
Let us know how these tips have helped you negotiate better. Do you have any other tips that can help in negotiations?
Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.