Negotiating is about getting others to agree with what WE WANT, while making it look like they are getting what THEY WANT.
Negotiating can be a work of art, when done correctly. But as many of us have experienced, reaching an agreement in business can be an undertaking all in itself.
In any business sale, neither party ever wants to feel as if they are getting the "short end of the stick". People are not giving money away freely, and are therefore looking more critically at who they are giving their money too. This idealogy is no different than in years past. Negotiating takes creativity, innovation, and taking the time to find just the right words to say at just the right moment. Negotiating is like running a marathon – you know it will be a roller coaster ride, and that there will be many factors along the way that will either hinder or accelerate your progress. Some will be in your control, and others will not.
The key to being successful at negotiating is Preparation. Know as much as you can about the party you're negotiating with so you can capitalize on your strengths, as well as any of the other party's weaknesses. This is not wrong – rather, it gives you leverage to use "all that you've got". Do not wait until you are knee deep into the negotiation to begin showing your "strengths". Let these people know early on in the negotiating process that you are knowledgeable, experienced and committed to getting the job done.
Also, before you start the negotiating a deal, make sure that the other party is fully empowered to make binding commitments. You don't want to find yourself in a position where you believe you've struck a deal, only to discover that your agreement must be approved by someone higher in the chain of command.
Throughout the negotiation, go for a win-win solution by trying to determine what you believe to be an acceptable outcome for the other party. Negotiation strategies are like chess. Each move should be designed to set up not only your next move, but several moves down the line. Generally, your moves should get progressively smaller, as you get closer to the end of your sales process.
While negotiating, DON'T EXPECT TO WRITE A PLAN OR ACTION FOR A COMPANY AND NOT HAVE IT CHANGE MANY TIMES OVER.
Each time you meet with the client, you will continually fine-tune the plan to meet their needs head on. You will begin to develop a deeper bond with your client, and eventually find a "groove" that you will both feel comfortable with while moving forward in the negotiation process.
And, again, KNOWLEDGE IS YOUR POWER. If you have done your homework and have gathered extensive information on your client or company, them you will be ready to intelligently debate any issues that are on the table. You cannot fudge your way through this process without having the knowledge to back you up, so DO NOT TAKE THIS PART OF THE SALES PROCESS LIGHTLY. The more informed you are, the smarter you will appear to your client, and the more respected you will be.
Another critical aspect of the negotiating process is LISTENING. Be the one in the room who LISTENS BEST- and not just with your ears, but with your mind. Truly hear what they are saying, and digest it fully before formulating a response. Unfortunately, listening skills are harder to come by than you think. But the hard work you put in now, will get you the respect you deserve for becoming an expert in your field.
NO ONE IN LIFE EVER WANTS TO FEEL AS IF SOMEONE ELSE HAS ALL THE POWER. So it is very important in your negotiation process that you do not come on too strong with your client. Do not bully them, or push them into a corner. State your case, but do it with respect, and in a way that shows the client that you are doing this with their best interest in mind. Of course, you have your own goals to meet, as well – but you need to find that balance in the give and take of the process, so that no party feels that they are being taken advantage of.
- Empower yourself with knowledge.
- Realize that there is no straight line from start to finish, and you will need to adjust accordingly.
- Listen effectively.
- Have the client feel empowered by showing them that what they say matters, without compromising your own goals in front of you.
- Always make the client's needs first and foremost.
The last point I would like to make is that you should NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST PROPOSAL GIVEN. That's not to say that that you are looking for a "fight" so to speak, however, the negotiation process is just that – and it doesn't happen in just one step. It may be a curvy and bumpy road at times, but in the end you will feel gratified in knowing that you gave it your all. THE HARDEST THINGS IN LIFE USUALLY BRING THE GREATEST REWARDS.