A good deal-maker can make any economic environment OK. But most team leaders have never been trained in the basics of negotiating. That’s too bad – they’re probably leaving money on the table. Money that could have made a difference to their own organization.
In today’s environment, many organizations are looking for new business opportunities. And, because it’s the easiest place to start, they will often reduce their pricing to get a foot in the door. On the other side, many companies are now asking their vendors to cut fees or reduce product prices. It’s a tactic that makes sense because they know they can go elsewhere to get similar goods and services.
However, many team leaders designated to be the “negotiators” on both side rarely have had any real training in the art of negotiating. Consequently, good organizations are missing opportunities and failing to explore other joint opportunities when they start talking. Here are some tips and tactics I’ve seen used by some of the best deal-makers in various organizations. See if they can help you improve results and performance:
1. First and foremost, be prepared to walk away. This is single most important strategy to getting what you want. Whether at work, or just generally speaking, out of life. If you aren’t prepared to say, “No” and mean it; then you are likely to end up settling for a lesser outcome. Before entering into the negotiation, know in advance exactly what you are and are not willing to concede, so that you do not need to process this information on-the-fly without adequate time to weigh the pros and cons of each.
2. A good deal comes together quickly – a bad deal takes way too long. I’ve negotiated on behalf of organizations around the world. Whether it’s been in North America, South America, Asia or Europe this is a truism. Recognize when it’s time to forego a deal entirely. Take a clue from the amount of time it’s taking to get what you want. If you have to “force it,” chances are it will come back to bite you later on. I’ve seen many people waste a lot of time with the misguided belief that with just one more thing the deal is going to work – it rarely does.
3. Deal at the right level. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to do a deal with an individual who can’t make the final decision. It’s like negotiating against yourself – you address an issue and try to come to a conclusion and then the other person takes that to someone else “behind the scenes” only to come back and say it can’t be done on those terms. It’s far more efficient and effective to find the right person to negotiate with directly. Tip: If you don’t know if you’re working with the right person, just ask if they have authority for the final decision.
4. Come prepared. The more information you have about the “marketplace,” the more likely you are to not only prevail, but also get the best deal possible. While you may actually prevail by shooting in the dark, not knowing the extent of the opportunity could result in your leaving a lot on the table. And don’t be shy about asking these easy questions: “Is this the best you can do? Does anyone else get a better deal than this?” Knowledge is truly power.
5. Don’t take anything personally. Here’s my best advice on this issue: To maintain objectivity, treat every negotiation as if you are doing a deal for someone else who has hired you as the professional deal-maker. When you allow yourself to get emotionally involved, rational thought often goes by the wayside and you’re far more likely to concede to your later regret. Cool heads get the best, and most, out of what they are seeking..
6. Anticipate objections. Prior to the negotiation, brainstorm all the reasons or objections that may prevent you from getting what you want – and prepare a thoughtful counterpoint for each, one at a time. Expect the other person to use whatever reason and raise whatever issue they can come up with to out-deal you. During a negotiation, people conjure all sorts of reasons why something can’t be done, many of which are often bogus. Until you know the valid sticking point, you are just spinning your wheels.
7. Don’t underestimate Karma. Even in business, what goes around indeed comes around. The best deal is one where both parties walk away feeling positive about the result of the negotiation. The worst deal is that where one side leaves the table feeling slighted with the short end of the stick. If you’re the kind of person who “has” to win and is prepared to humiliate or otherwise make someone feel bad as a result, sooner or later the gain is likely to come back to haunt you.
In my 30-years as a corporate executive and business success coach, I’ve learned what works and what does not work. Interestingly, in many ways they’re the same regardless of whether you’re striving for a specific outcome in the workplace or in your personal life. The key is to be firm but fair, come prepared, and know when to walk away.