Negotiating a deal or an agreement can often be stressful – and even adversarial. But, more often than not, it represents the beginning of a relationship (as opposed to the end of one). Therefore, it is not only important to get the terms you desire, but that all parties walk away feeling good about what they got (or gave).
Here are a few negotiating tips that I have found help achieve that end goal. Use them as you’d like.
1. Let the other side go first.
When you let the other side present their position first, you are immediately in a better negotiating position. There have been times when I have been in the position of having to present my stance first. Once the negotiations have concluded, I step back and say, “Darn, if only I had known XYZ, I could have gotten more!”
2. Be prepared.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve witnessed people negotiate against themselves because they were not aware of what was already agreed upon in a draft agreement. Know your starting point and be prepared to defend your stance. Knowing what is “market” and having examples to reference can also help.
3. Know where you want to end before you begin.
Part of preparation is knowing where you want to end up. And, what your fallback positions are. You may ask for, but not get, everything you want. Know your “must haves” versus “nice to haves” before sitting down with the other side. This requires honest conversations among your side of the table as part of your preparation process.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for more than what you want.
The direct approach can often be the most effective. Rather than game playing, trying to one-up the other party, or the parties on your side of the table, clearly and succinctly state your position. Start high. Ask for more than what you want to ensure that you will end up closer to your ultimate goal. And then, be quiet. And listen.
5. Know who you are negotiating against.
A quick LinkedIn or Google search can provide a lot of intelligence. It always helps to know who you are dealing with.
6. Make the other side feel like they won.
As noted earlier, negotiations often represent the beginning of a relationship. So, it is important that everyone walks away feeling like winner as it will not be the last time you see one another. If the other side feels like you took blood and their first born child, the resulting business relationship may be less than fruitful.
At the end of the day, never lose sight of the ultimate business goals, while always keeping in mind the legal framework within which those goals, and that business, operates. I hope these tips help you next time you are at the negotiating table.
Thanks for reading!