As a business owner, you will inevitably engage in negotiations at some point with employees, clients, partners or vendors. Depending on what you want to accomplish, the negotiations might occur extensively in person, with much back-and-forth dealings, or it may be an email reply you send in response to a request. Regardless of the source of negotiation, key factors remain the same. No matter what you are negotiating or who you are speaking with, always remain professional and courteous. Negotiate from facts, not emotion, and make sure you have data on hand to backup your points, and sound arguments to counter objections.
1. Be quick to hear and slow to speak
The wisest negotiators are those who keep quiet and listen to the other party. Once you understand what your customer wants and what needs they are seeking to fulfill, you will be able to tailor your responses to show them why your services are the best for them, point by point.
2. Don’t skimp on preparation
Know your audience like the back of your hand: understand what they do, who they serve, their purpose, mission, and values. Research your clients and competitors on Google and LinkdIn, so you can know who your key players are and what each party is offering. If you can identify – before setting foot in the meeting room – what your clients want and what you have to offer that is better than your competitors, you will have the edge.
3. Draft it
Have a rough draft ready to go that balances the needs and desires of both parties. If you are the first one to present a proposed contract, you may be able to seal the deal in your favour because the other party may be reluctant to make swooping changes to the draft.
4. Know when to walk
Before you go into the meeting, know your budget and terms – and be prepared to back up each point with relevant, trustworthy market data. If the other party wants to play hardball beyond what you, or your company, are willing to concede, walk away.
5. Don’t be an eager beaver
In any type of negotiation, compromise is necessary and healthy. However, if you are too eager to do the deal and are willing to concede on one too many demands, the other party will sense it and exploit your weakness. If you must concede, make sure that they too are giving you some boons along the way.
6. Don’t drag your feet
There is a higher chance of fallout if a deal drags on too long. Be prompt in your communication and follow up, and maintain your momentum until the deal is closed.
7. Never accept the first offer
First offers usually have some wiggle room for the offerer to go up in response to counter offers. Negotiate what you know to be a fair price based on what the data supports as market value. Be honest about your services and don’t try to shortchange your customers or rob them blind. If your client low balls you, come back to them with an acceptable counter and see what they say. If they insist on not playing fairly, you may need to walk.
8. Ask questions
If you do not know something, ask! Don’t make assumptions and don’t be ashamed of not knowing an answer if your research has not provided any. The only way to do your due diligence is by asking questions.
9. Before you sign anything…
The fact is, you don’t know everything. When you are working with legally binding contracts, make sure your legal team has gone over every word and dot with a fine-tooth comb so that you are not inadvertently shouldering more than you bargained for. Give the other party – and yourself – time to review all articles in the agreement and ask for clarification as necessary. Only sign when you are absolutely sure you understand every issue the contract addresses.
Negotiations are hard; be patient with yourself, and the other party, and do what is best for your company. It may be that the party you are negotiating with cannot offer what you need or that you are not a good fit for them. That’s okay. Consider the alternatives and make your decision wisely, with facts and numbers, not thought or emotions. If you lose your leverage or settle for a bad agreement, you will regret it. It is far better to redirect the other party to another person or company that can serve them than to bind yourself to them in a legal contract when the arrangement is of little benefit to you.
About the author
Callum Mundine is the head of marketing department at Warble Media, a leading SEO and web design agency based in Dubbo, NSW, Australia. If you have any questions about SEO or digital marketing, email firstname.lastname@example.org