7 Tips for Becoming a Top Negotiator

Negotiation is something we all do on a daily basis, be it at work or at home.  While it is something all of us are familiar with, many of us shy away from it out of fear of confrontation.  One can agree that negotiation is a tricky business, given that one wrong move can cause the entire process to come crashing down.  Nonetheless, if you want the best value for your time, effort, and investment you need to learn how to negotiate.    Good negotiators aren’t born- they’re made.  Through education, practice, and practical techniques you can learn how to become a solid negotiator.  Here are 7 timeless and proven techniques for becoming a top negotiator.

  1. Make the First Move

People hate to go first for fear that they will miss an opportunity to get more money.  However, research shows that the purchase price is often higher when the seller makes the first offer than it would be if the buyer made the first offer.  The buyer’s first offer will always be low and it’s important to set a higher anchor.  Therefore, if you’re selling you need to start the bidding high.

  1. Learn the Art of Listening

Most people tend to talk a lot when they are nervous, but talking too much can end up costing you the deal.  Oftentimes, the other party will start talking if you don’t respond to them immediately.  They might end up listing reasons why your offer isn’t reasonable or why they need the deal to close more quickly.  This is information you would never have had if you were speaking, but you can now use to your advantage.  Listen more and speak less during a negotiation.  If you must speak, ask open-ended questions so you can find out the needs of your counterpart.  You can’t meet in the middle if you don’t know the needs of the other party.

  1. Never Set a Range

People love to ask for ballpark numbers in a negotiation.  Don’t provide them with these figures.  If you tell them people pay anywhere from $500-$1000 for your services, they are going to try and get as close to $500 as possible.  Never provide an estimate.  Instead, keep asking questions to find out what their specific needs are and how you can meet them.

  1. Know Your Position

Before entering any negotiation, you should always have a plan.  This plan includes your BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  In other words, BATNA refers to your minimum or the level where you decide you cannot go below.  If you begin a negotiation without a BATNA in mind, you could end up regretting the deal.  By coming prepared and with a firm position, you will know when it is time to walk away so you can avoid making a deal you might regret.

  1. Ignore Bold Statements

In negotiations, you can never accept anything as fact.  People often make bold statements during a negotiation to try and intimidate the other party into giving them what they want.  These bold statements are a bullying tactic and should not get you flustered.  Instead, ignore the statements and stay focused on the needs of your client.  Don’t fall victim to these negotiating tactics.

  1. Don’t Push Too Hard

We tend to get defensive when we feel trapped; so does the other party.  If you push too hard and take all of their options away, they are probably going to end up walking away.  Don’t try to be a ruthless negotiator.   It’s not about winning or losing.  The best negotiators understand that a successful negotiation leaves both parties feeling like they received something of value.

  1. Build a Relationship

You never want to take too much or leave too much on the table.  Doing so can result in your counterpart having a bad taste in their mouth about their experience with you.  As you negotiate, always think about what you can say and do to establish a long-term business relationship with the client.  Not only will this make the negotiation easier the next time around, but it will help your business to grow as you retain more and more relationships with clients.