Our negotiation tactics start young. Negotiating with our parents that if we eat our vegetables, we then get dessert. Negotiating with our teachers that if we fail an assignment, we should then be able to complete an additional assignment for extra credit. It only increases with age as daily negotiations with coworkers and superiors (& spouses!) can prove taxing.
In our business, we negotiate all the time: better prices with vendors, delivery timetables with purveyors, contracts with developers, work schedules with staff, and the like.
And no matter how often we poise ourselves to make our point, there is an art to effective negotiation. Here are a few insider tips & tricks to improve your business-negotiating prowess and hence create a positive experience for you … and the object of your arbitration.
Be Prepared. Be Direct. Stay Focused.
- Be Prepared. Establish a strong foundation early with a fact-based, cohesive plan, complete with reality-based concepts and financials, if applicable. Tip: know your plan inside & out so you can customize if any concerns arise when entering into contract mode. Think of your plan as a roadmap: one that includes areas that can be negotiated down by succession of importance, and a direct route to realistic growth strategies.
- Be Direct. Negotiations are about give & take, and respecting the other party’s point of view. Reinforce your plan and concepts by directing your tactics and points to the dialogue at hand. Don’t get lost going off on tangents.
- Stay Focused. Know that “Business is Business.” Sure, it might prove difficult if you’re negotiating with a bank or developer in order to realize your dream of opening a restaurant, but letting emotions in will only help eradicate positive relationships and future business. Instead, stay focused on your desired outcome. Never make it personal.
Listening to the other side’s position and understanding their priorities and reasoning will prove as important as understanding your own. The more information to contemplate, the more honest the give & take can be – hence, the more effective the negotiations can prove.
Know When to Walk Away.
Usually the other party has a fixed benchmark in mind. If your best efforts are not met, you must be ready to walk away, and begin developing Plan-B. Not only will you maintain your self-respect, and learn from the experience of dealing with a formidable adversary, but who knows? Walking away just might pique the other party’s interest just enough to close the deal. The best deals that get done often die a few times first.
A successful negotiation is akin to a chess match. The skill and strategy, the focus and ability, and a keen awareness of your opponent all come into play. The more you play, the better you get at it.