The art of negotiation takes a fair amount of practice and real-life experience to master. From haggling at a flea market to negotiating the price of a new car, each situation requires the same basic elements. Use our list below as a general guideline for your own business negotiations.
- Be fair and expect a win-win solution. Without fairness on both sides of the table, any negotiation is doomed to fail. Each party must be willing to compromise something in order to gain something else. For example, when cutting a deal with a vendor, he may sacrifice his desired price in order to gain your exclusive loyalty. This becomes a win-win solution because he has acquired a long-term loyal customer, and you have procured an unbeatable cost for his services.
- Know your bottom line. There must be a tangible point which, if reached, would end discussions. Know what this point is and be willing to walk away from the negotiation if you get there. Your bottom line may not always be a number, but rather a clause in a contract or a procurement of a certain service by vendors or employees. Decide well in advance what your bottom line actually is.
- Do your research to know their bottom line. You may not be able to know for sure exactly what the other party’s bottom line is, but with adequate research, you may have a good idea. By anticipating what their point of no return is, you prevent the possibility of exhausting all other options before the other party leaves the negotiating table. For example, when negotiating the contract of a prospective employee, some research might tell you that at her current job, she is allowed one day a week to telecommute, and without that one day in any future position, she wouldn’t be willing to leave her current employer. Knowing this allows you to leave it on the table in all aspects of the negotiation to prevent her from walking away.
Depending on the situation, negotiating can be simple, complex, or anywhere in between. Remember to be fair, willing to compromise, and adequately prepared with information about the other party.
What tips can you share for improving your negotiating skills? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!