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Learn to negotiate like a Pro

The difference between laughing all the way to the bank and being dissatisfied with the job situation you are in, can be about such a ridiculously simple thing as knowing the secrets of negotiating. It's actually true. There are some very simple rules to keep track of and that will make a big difference when you and a counterpart have to agree on something.

These simple rules will help you win negotiations:

Rule # 1 - Keep your eyes on the goal and don't mix emotions into the equation
Many business deals are thwarted because people want to get a deal at any cost. When your opponent says something that is far below what you had intended to agree upon, it's easy to get paralyzed and just say no too quickly. You might be thinking;”Don't they understand what it takes to get this right? If they're so stupid, they can go to someone else”.
Three days later you have change your mind. You got a little too hot-headed and perhaps even offended by what they said. There is evidence that emotions have no place in negotiations. Anger causes you to lose sight of the goal. We've all seen someone who gets red in the face because of restrained anger. It starts with little twitches around the mouth or the eyes and it looks as if he/she will explode any moment.
The problem here is, of course, that the person has forgotten the goal of the negotiation and we all know that some people we meet can be both rude and nasty. They might even offend you. If you focus on the goal, then this type of behavior won't affect you so much. Being totally fixated on winning and getting everything you want will impair your ability to win real money. In short, leave your ego outside the negotiating room.

Rule # 2 - Make sure you know what you want - and what they want from you
It seems obvious that you know what you want, but that's not always the case. Sometimes one party in a negotiation just doesn’t know what they want - they are so angry and frustrated that they haven't even asked the question that would have solved the problem. This is precisely why you should have a detailed plan of what you want out of the meeting. And you should also know what you are willing to give and what you are not willing to give. Normally, it's a fact that you can get whatever you want if you are prepared to pay the price for it.

Rule # 3 - Be prepared
Once you know what you want you have to prepare yourself to get it. It can be as simple as writing down your argument on a piece of paper, to doing more advanced researches to use as a surprising moment in the negotiation. Nothing is worse and more embarrassing than making a presentation and then have someone who constantly questions the reliability of what you say or the entire presentation falls apart just because your facts and figures are contradictory or confusing.

Rule # 4 – Don't be fooled by the formal trick
If someone sends you a contract which you must sign, but you don't like a few points – cross them and add other things that you want included in the contract. Send back the contract as if you expect them to change it. See what happens.
They might argue that they shouldn't, but why not? You are the one who's expected to sign. Tell them that if they aren't satisfied with your changes … Well, then you may discuss them.

Rule # 5 - Be willing to negotiate
Some people are embarrassed to talk about money. Others think it's rude and disparaging. But when it comes to getting a deal locked in, money simply must be taken into the equation marsh and you have to talk about it. There are lots of experienced negotiators out there. There's the car salesman that you bought your car from. There's the nice woman who sold you your new kitchen and many more. If they see that you have a sensitive side when it comes to money, they will use it – against you. Make no mistake about that! I would never limit myself to paying the given price if, for example, I buy many things from a single company. Just because they don't have a huge sign which says ”Welcome to negotiate ”doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. The least you should do is to ask for something extra. Always? Always! It's a really good exercise.

Rule # 6 – Don't be the first to offer a price
I have made this mistake so many times that I would never do it again. It has happened that customers have asked what I charge an hour as a marketer for a project and in the beginning of my career, I just called out a figure that was often lower than I really had in mind – just to get the job, of course. But now I know to ask questions about the budget, and I'm almost always pleasantly surprised by getting a better deal than I initially thought.

Rule # 7 - Ask for more than you think you can get
When your opponent has given you a figure for the job you should, even if it's better than you expected, say that it's lower than you expected. But you should, of course, do so without seeming arrogant or assertive. Just say it calmly. The gain here is that you will get  negotiating space where the customer feels that they have won when you finally accept the first offer.

Rule # 8 – Don't let anyone pressure you to make hasty decisions
Once a negotiation has started, formally or informally, most people want it to be over with quickly. This is where you can let their impatience work for you. A good way to do this is to let them think that the one they're negotiating with is not you, but a boss in the periphery. Say something like;”I have to talk to my boss/wife/husband/partner before I can give you a definite yes.”A skilled negotiator will want to speak directly with the one in charge, but you won't allow that. You just say that he/she has told you to sort things out and come up with the best proposal. In the same breath you can also add:”Is this the best deal you can come up with?” You need to bring back something to come up with an answer tomorrow or at some other appropriate time. This is also a good strategy to use when people want to pressure you into making a decision quickly.

Rule # 9 - Make sure your opponent is satisfied
No negotiation will benefit from having a dissatisfied party and yet it's common for people to try to squeeze every last drop of blood from his/her opponent. It's a big mistake because a disgruntled counterparty may even feel cheated and he/she may just do what he/she must for you, nothing more - or better still, a little less than expected from him/her.

Homework: The next time you buy something in private - try to negotiate your way to a better deal or to get something extra with the purchase. It's incredibly fun and if you meet a person who's a bit more like you, then you will succeed.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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