It’s no surprise that one of the most vital skills you can leverage as a business professional is being a good negotiator. However, many businesspeople fall into the trap of extremes when it comes to negotiating with others. They try to push their perspective onto their peers, and the result is a communication breakdown. Sometimes it can even lead to outright hostility, which won’t benefit the business or the owner.
Business negotiations require finesse and an understanding of the person on the other side of the table. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be aggressive, but you should know where and when to stop to get the best results. Below, 14 experts from Forbes Business Council share the strategies they’ve tried and/or developed themselves through years of negotiating with other business leaders.
1. Know How To Listen
Listen to the other parties. When negotiating, it is natural to want to put your best foot forward and show what they can get from you. But oftentimes, you win them over when you listen to what they want and they reflect on the fact that you can give them what they need, as well. – Brian Chew, OC Wills and Trust Attorneys
2. Take A Direct Approach
Everybody has a different style of negotiating, but I like to take a “no BS” approach. I usually do research on what I want and think is fair, then tell the other party what that is. If they disagree, I tell them why I think my offer is fair. If they still disagree, I hold firm and walk away. FOMO is a thing and they’ll usually come back if it’s a cool opportunity. – Harrison Baum, Daily High Club
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3. Learn More About The Other Person
In order to negotiate effectively, one should learn more about the person they are meeting. It is important to research the other negotiator to reveal their strengths and weaknesses. One should consider the vendor’s or client’s needs, as well as the value they add to the business. It’s super important to check out the negotiator’s website, social pages or press releases to gather information. – Liana Zavo, ZavoMedia Group
4. Understand The Greater Context
Understand the greater context of the negotiations by considering the desired outcome of the engagement, competing interests, potential time involved to reach a resolution and your organization’s goals. With this framework in mind, you can differentiate between decisions leading to desired outcomes versus those simply achieving the short-term gratification of reaching a quick agreement. – Jacob Ehrlich, Pure Health Consulting
5. Set Concrete Goals
Make sure to set concrete goals for the negotiation. Set specific realistic goals and define them clearly. Share the goals with your team or business partner to make sure everyone is on the same page. – Linden Ryan Skeens, Thumbvista
6. Structure A Win-Win Game Scenario
The best negotiation is about structuring a win-win game scenario. Make concessions on negotiable items to gain trust while protecting the nonnegotiable terms. This process also involves empathy. Being heard validates their priorities and opens up opportunities for negotiation. When both parties feel they were heard and that there was reasonable give-and-take, a win-win outcome becomes possible. – Scott Amyx, Astor Perkins
7. Be Bold
Be bold and brave, and don’t apologize for what you’re asking for. Women inherently undervalue themselves and we need to approach advocating the way our male counterparts do. Be bold. Be brave. Period. – Catherine Merritt, Spool Marketing and Communications
8. Be Aware Of The “Wanting It Tax”
Be aware of the “wanting it tax.” In a negotiation, the person that is the most desperate is bound to get the shorter end of the stick. Have you ever had a date that you liked so much that you ended up letting them walk all over you? That is the “wanting it tax” in action. Have the strength and resolve to walk away when you have to. – Byung Eun Min, Vintorio
9. Plan Ahead
Plan ahead and know who you are negotiating with. Set your goals and gather all relevant information prior to meeting up. At the end of the day, it is really about identifying what everyone’s interests are and identifying key issues that will help us find resolutions. My secret question will always be, “What keeps you up at night?” The rest is common sense. – Abigail Aboitiz, 247 Health Solution LLC
10. Attack The Problem
Make sure you attack the problem, not the people. Try things like sitting on the same side of the table instead of across from each other, using words like “us” and “we” and steering away from “I” and “you.” The more you can turn it into a collaborative problem-solving exercise instead of a “us vs. them” points-winning exercise, the more successful you will be. Try to win together, not to beat each other. – Edmund Lowman, Slumber Hostel Group
11. Know Your Best Alternative
Know your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Understand your must-haves, nice-to-haves and what you are willing to give up on. The negotiation must be win-win for both parties. – David Crean, Objective Capital Partners, LLC
12. Focus On The Transformation
People rarely buy a product; they buy a transformation. For example, people will buy the promise of reducing risk or increasing operational efficiency. Be clear on what that transformation is and be honest about its capabilities. Overpromising and underdelivering will likely only work short term. Focusing on the impact and the value the product brings is key. – Jocelyne Morin-Nurse, Loxentus Inc.
13. Fine-Tune Your Wins
Fine-tune your wins and try to learn from your losses. You can’t win every time and you can’t lose every time. What you can do is modify your technique, improve it and attack with a smarter, more efficient process in the future. This is what separates winners from losers. – Chris Cashin, Parcel Consulting, LLC
14. Know When To Walk Away
Oftentimes, people feel like they need to reach an agreement during negotiations to avoid the sunk-cost of negotiating a deal that goes nowhere. Know when to walk away. It’s really important to stay focused as a leader, and taking on the wrong deal is often much worse than taking on no deal at all. Know your worth, and if the other side doesn’t appreciate it, then find someone who will! – Maurice Harary, The Bid Lab