Negotiation: ‘The process of discussing something with someone in order to reach an agreement’. It’s an integral part of business mechanics, and your proficiency at negotiating can ultimately dictate how successful your career will be. Many negotiations are relatively minor. Others may have major consequences – financial or otherwise. Whatever’s at stake, it’s important to get it right.
A truly successful negotiation is one where both parties feel happy that they’ve got a good deal. So the question is, how do you achieve this? We’ve outlined some of the simple, yet effective tactics that the best negotiators use.
Clarify your objectives
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to define exactly why the negotiation is taking place. What do you hope to gain from it? This should be kept firmly in mind throughout the process.
The most common mistake when entering negotiations, is failing to prepare adequately. You’re very unlikely to walk away with the best deal if you haven’t put in the groundwork. Ensure that you’ve thoroughly researched the other party. Review the company’s website, press releases, LinkedIn account and any relevant Google links. You should also research the person you’ll be negotiating with too. The more detail you have, the better your position will be.
It’s also worth looking into details of any similar deals done by the company in the past. Knowing the terms will give you more insight into what kind of a deal they might be willing to settle for.
Know where to draw the line
Be open to walking away if necessary. You need to decide in advance where your line is. So, decide on the minimum deal you’ll accept, and stick to it. Have information to-hand to back up your decision – it’ll only make your position stronger.
Work on your poker-face
Be mindful of any nervous tics and your body language. Just like during a game of poker, your physical behaviour during negotiations can give you away.
Evaluate your own habits and behaviour
Self-assessment is the key to success. This is particularly true when it comes to deal-making. Pinpoint the skills you have that’ll help you during the negotiation; being aware of what works for you allows you to capitalise on these things. It’s also important to identify your weaknesses. The more self aware you are, the more able you’ll be to mitigate any impact your weaknesses may have.
Communication skills are vital. Truly listen to the other side. You’ll gain a far better understanding of the situation, a better grounding to respond effectively and appropriately and ultimately, a more successful outcome. Talking at people is unlikely to be so effective!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that sometimes it’s simply in your favour to be quiet. No one wants to talk themselves out of a good deal. And it’s surprisingly easily done.
Be polite and courteous at all times. Now is no time to be rude or obnoxious. After all, it’s far easier to do a good deal with people who like and respect you. It would be reckless to compromise any future business relationship.
Like anything else, the art of negotiation takes practice. Every negotiation you handle will improve your skills, whether it was a successful outcome or not. In fact, you’re likely to learn far more from those deals that don’t go in your favour.
Arguably the most important part of any negotiation comes after it’s taken place. The evaluation of what you did, and how this influenced the outcome. This way, you can ensure that you’re building on your skills each time. And ultimately, become the best negotiator that you can possibly be.