Negotiation is something that home-based or other small business, business opportunity or franchise owners need to contend with, like it or not. Unfortunately, far too many of them think it is okay to just wing it. They don't take the time to refine their skills in this area. As a result, they are doing themselves a tremendous disservice. By not doing some basic homework and giving careful thought to how they can be more effective in the process, they are oftentimes costing themselves dearly in terms of not only time and money, but grief.
Negotiation is an art, one that some people are innately better at than others for sure. But it's also one that can be mastered over time with practice. Whether you’re negotiating your hourly rate, a project deadline or just about any other issue, here are eight quick and easy things you can do to increase your likelihood of success:
1. Try to listen more than you talk―One of the biggest mistakes you can make when entering into a negotiation with another party is to NOT listen to what they have to say. If you’re anything like most of us, you’re all too intent on figuring out what you’re going to say next as opposed to really staying quiet and in the moment long enough to digest what the other person is talking about. Objections, obstacles, issues of concern…these are the things that, if you only will stop to listen, your customer will more than likely begin share if given half the chance. Stopping long enough to take in what you hear so that you have a chance to formulate the best response is what will make you an effective negotiator. Moreover, if you talk too much, you’re more inclined to say something you wish you hadn’t. Silence is golden. It is not a bad thing. By rushing to fill it, you often create a lost opportunity.
2. Set Clear Terms Early―Good negotiators start by asking what the other party is interested in or wants or needs first. All too often, we assume we know the answers to these questions and we jump right into our pitch, but oftentimes we are mistaken. Never leap to conclusions as to what it is your customer or client needs or deems to be of greatest import. Ask first.
3. Come Armed with an Objective Point of View―Nothing bolsters an argument better than an objective third-party weighing in with a well-formed opinion. If you’re negotiating a price for your services, come to the negotiating table with testimonials as to your worth, both in terms of quality and price. If it’s a product you’re selling, bring any reports or news articles that contain positive reviews. Need to prove a point? Make sure you’ve done your homework and that you have unbiased documentation that supports your argument.
4. Avoid Being First on Price―If at all possible, try not to be the first one to mention a fixed price on anything. Remember, negotiation is all about determining where your expectations are relative to those of the other involved party. If you speak first about price, you right away limit yourself and run the risk of actually coming in too low. By asking the other party a little bit about their budget and what their cost expectations are before making a commitment, you are more in control of the process.
5. Exhibit Measured Confidence―Here’s the thing about negotiation, some people love it and others hate it. Regardless of where you stand, you’ve got to be confident. Trouble is that when you’re too confident, you can actually come off as arrogant or cocky, neither of which is terribly appealing. On the other hand, you can’t afford to be too hesitant. It will make you appear weak and like you are all too ready to be taken advantage of by the other party. It’s critical that you find a balance in your presentation―one that conveys a reasonable degree of confidence, both in terms of you personally and whatever it is you’re selling.
6. Be Hungry, Not Famished―Many entrepreneurs will tell you that knowing how to walk away from a deal where you have nothing to gain is the only way you will ever be successful, especially when you are just starting out. Sounds crazy, right? After all, you’ve got to get things going. But any job that doesn’t pay you enough or involves doing things entirely on somebody else’s terms constitutes precious time spent away from landing one that would be more rewarding. If the money or terms being negotiated don’t suit you, don’t settle. Move on to the next hot prospect.
7. Master the Art of the “Win-Win”―Mastering the art of negotiation is actually about knowing how to create a “win-win” proposition for all the involved parties. How do you do that exactly? Well, you start by thinking ahead as to what it is you will need at a minimum out of any given deal to make it worth your while. Additionally, you’ve got to ensure the other party comes away with two things, no matter what: 1) confidence that they’ve gotten a fair deal and 2) a clear sense of the benefits they will experience for having made it.
8. Close with What You Want―As human beings our instincts when faced with a challenge all too often lean toward self-preservation. That “fight or flight” response kicks in, and far too many of us instinctively choose the latter route. When it comes to negotiation, backing down from what we want and are worth out of fear that we will be perceived as too aggressive or desperate should not be an option. The fact is that no one who is at all financially prudent (and who isn't these days?) will ever give you more than they have to if you’re willing to do the job for less. So close every negotiation with a clear statement of what you have to offer and what you want. If you know what you’re offering is worth the price you’re asking, stand firm and offer no apologies.