For small business owners, negotiations are crucial to success in nearly every aspect of their business. Most only think of negotiations when talking about price with a client or salary with an employee, however nearly everything a small business owner does which involves an interaction with another person, is a negotiation on some level. Obviously everything doesn’t require a long, drawn-out negotiation, however having the skills to overcome objections and close on something that leaves all parties happy can be the difference between a thriving business and one that is out of business. And while every negotiation is unique, here are some techniques which are nearly universal to every negotiation.
1. Know What You Want – This may seem obvious, however one of the main reasons negotiations go south is that the parties are not really sure of what they want. Set a list of priorities and keep them in mind during the negotiation – otherwise you could lose a good deal over a trivial detail.
2. Know What They Want – Make sure to carefully listen to what the other party actually wants. Too often, people negotiate based upon preconceived notions, rather than what the other party actually wants. Many times a small concession can get a large deal done, but the parties involved are only looking at their own interests. By understanding what the other person wants, you put yourself into a better position to deliver that and, in turn, get what you want.
3. Know What You Can Give Up – Negotiating is about compromising. If you need to be flexible, be sure you know where your areas of flexibility are. Don’t get bogged down in fighting for everything, sometimes conceding a small point will get them to concede something important for you.
4. Focus on Common Ground – Generally, the majority of what is being discussed is in agreement. Focus on that when negotiating points of contention. Sometimes, by looking at everything that is already agreed upon, it can be easier to compromise on whatever is left.
5. Put it on Them – Make them the focus of the conversation. This way, you are constantly reinforcing their benefits, rather than yours. Though subtle, this places a constant reminder of the reason why they want this deal to work out, rather than constantly working through why you want it to. This can make them more eager to complete the deal.
6. Know When to Walk Away – Not all negotiations end well. Sometimes, there is simply no workable resolution. If they need something you are unwilling to give, then it is time to walk away. You don’t want to get bogged down in a negotiation that has no possible resolution.
No matter what you’re negotiating, by keeping these techniques in mind, you might be able to tip the scales in your favor and leave getting what you actually want without giving up anything you can’t afford to.