The ability to negotiate effectively in today’s business world can mean the difference between success and failure. It is a critical skill to possess, yet many people feel uncomfortable with the process. The good news is that negotiation is a skill like any other, meaning that anyone can master it through practice. Here are a few tips to help ensure you are closing the best deal possible.
Know Who You’re Negotiating With
No, this doesn’t mean to find out their name and job title. This refers to doing real research to find out what the other side wants and what is motivating them. The more you know about your counterpart, the better you will be able to negotiate with them. This means finding out everything you can about their background, their needs, their fears and concerns, their challenges, and what makes them tick. This means you will have to ask tons of questions upfront and spend some time doing your homework so you can work your negotiation around their needs.
Less Talking, More Listening
Time and time again people enter into a negotiation armed with loads of information about their own service or product and they are just waiting to unleash it the first chance they get. The truth is, however, great negotiators act more like detectives than salesmen. They ask lots of questions and then sit back and listen to the answers. Why? Because the other party will tell you everything you need to know if you just listen. Try following the 70/30 rule- you listen 70% of the time and talk 30%. Ask open-ended questions that will encourage your counterpart to talk. Not only does this arm with you with critical information, but it makes the other party feel like they are being heard.
In a world where we are constantly served immediate satisfaction, being patient is a difficult task. Many negotiators struggle with waiting and they are just eager to get the deal over and done. The problem is, when you rush, you are more likely to make mistakes and leave money on the table. Likewise, it tells your counterpart that you are under pressure to make a deal and they will try to get you to make even further concessions. Whoever is willing to be patient will have the advantage.
Focus on Their Needs, Not Yours
All too often negotiators are so worried about how they are going to make the deal that they begin working against themselves. Rather, focus on the pressures on the other side of the negotiation. It’s your job to seek out these pressures and use them to negotiate a better deal for yourself.
Instead of trying to win the negotiation, seek to understand the needs of your counterpart and how you can meet those needs. When the other party feels like you are truly working to find a solution for them, they will be more inclined to try and meet your needs as well.
Don’t Make Concessions without Getting Something in Return
If you are willing to give something away, you must also be getting something in return. Otherwise, you are inviting the other party to ask for more concessions. Also, never give your biggest concessions away first. Start small and save those for hard bargaining if you need to.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want
The best negotiators are assertive. They know exactly what they want and they aren’t afraid to go for it. They know that everything is negotiable and they challenge everything. The ability to negotiate assertively will set you apart from all other negotiators and help you close the best deal possible.