Tips for Negotiating with a Competitor

There is one thing every business has in common: there will always be competition.  It’s hard to escape your competition at times.  You are constantly forced to compare your stats with theirs.  You are always competing with them for the client.  Clients will even shove them into you face explaining how great they are and how much cheaper they are.  The fact is competition is a part of the business world that will never go away and while competition is good, collaboration can be even better.  Collaborative negotiation is an approach that seeks to find an equitable and fair agreement that will also maintain the relationship.  Follow these tips to learn how to negotiate effectively with your competitor to create value.

Take a Win-Win Approach

While some negotiators look to achieve a “win-loss” result in which one party gets what they want by convincing the other party to concede, a collaborative negotiation works by finding things of value to both parties.  This is known as a “win-win” approach because both parties leave the table feeling like they have gained something of value.  When collaborating with a competitor, it is important to consider their needs as well as your own and find a solution that can be beneficial to both of you. Not only will this result in your own benefit, but it will also help to create a sustainable relationship with the competitor.

Be Fair

When negotiating with a competitor you have to look beyond just your needs.   If you want them to partner with you, there has to be something in it for them as well.  This means your negotiation has to be fair.  It can’t be viewed as a competition where there is a winner and a loser.  Competitors are more likely to collaborate and partner with companies that seek fair agreements.

Find a Joint Solution

In order for collaborative negotiation to be successful, both parties need to look at the problem together and find one joint solution.  Instead of each party bringing forth their own individual needs, they need to remember that together they can achieve more.  After all, you wouldn’t be negotiating with your competitor if you didn’t need something from them and vice versa.  If you are collaborating to meet the needs of a client, for example, consider the client’s needs as the problem and work together to come up with a joint solution.

Be Honest

Honesty and transparency goes a long way in the negotiating world.  Your counterpart is more likely to work with you if they feel like they can trust you.  There is no room for deceptive behavior in collaborative negotiations because you need to see yourselves as more of a team.  Be open and honest about your wants and needs and be willing to share important information that can help you achieve a fair agreement.  


Like any negotiation, listening is a key component.  The best negotiators are also the best listeners.  When you are actively listening to your competitor, it lets that know that you truly do have their best interest at heart and they are more willing to bend a little to find an agreeable solution.  No one wants to negotiate with someone who only talks about their own needs without giving a second thought to the needs of their counterpart.