The ability to negotiate successfully is a must-have skill in today’s competitive business world. There are many occasions when you may find yourself in a situation where you have to negotiate, so it’s important to know the secrets to success. Here are a few tried and true tips for successful negotiations in any profession.
1. Build a Strong Personal Relationship
Imagine a random person telling you to buy this new coffee maker for $200 because it is worth it. Chances are, you will assume they are just trying to sell you on something. Now, imagine your best friend tells you the same thing. How would your reaction differ? A positive relationship can have a huge impact on how we perceive things because it engages feelings of trust. The same is true for both personal and professional relationships. People tend to accept more when it is suggested by someone they trust. Therefore, spend some time creating a strong bond before meeting the other party. Chat over the phone, send a few emails, maybe even meet in person for coffee prior to the negotiation. Think about the long term benefits of a positive relationship.
2. Gather Information
Before entering into a negotiation, you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Learn everything you can about the other party including their motivations for the negotiation, their pain points, who you are competing against, and what the other party is hoping to gain out of the negotiation. You also need to know your own position, strengths, and weaknesses as well as those of your opponent.
3. Know What You Want to Achieve Before You Begin
A successful negotiator knows what they want before they even begin the discussion. They also know what they will not accept, or their walk away point. Be realistic about your goals, as you are unlikely to get everything you want. Rather, prioritize your needs versus your wants and know in advance what is most important to you and what parts you are willing to concede.
4. Listen More and Talk Less
You may not realize that your affinity for talking could be costing you a successful negotiation. The balance of talking and listening during negotiations is extremely important. The most effective way is to spend 70% of your time listening and only 30% talking. Active listening allows you to really hear what your opponent is saying so you can truly understand their needs. Only through listening can you analyze the facts to make informed decisions.
5. Always Seek a Win-Win Outcome
All too frequently people think of negotiations as having a winner and a loser. Successful negotiators, however, see negotiation as an opportunity for both sides to win. The ultimate goal of a negotiation should be to establish a win-win solution for all parties. When everyone benefits, everyone walks away happy and you will have created a positive relationship with your opponent. This increases the likelihood of them doing business again with you in the future.
6. Have a Plan B
You should be prepared with a backup plan because there is always a chance that things may not work according to what you planned. Contingency planning allows you to be prepared for the unexpected so you can avoid making a deal you might regret. It also prevents you from feeling panicked in unfavorable situations.