Negotiation is a fact of life. It is essential in everyday business situations and even in resolving personal conflicts. In an ideal world, you would win every negotiation you undertake. Whilst this may not be possible every single time, the following tips will ensure you are prepared and successful the majority of the time.
1. Find the problem and fix it with information
The crux of any negotiation is preparation. The better-prepared person usually wins the argument. This is simply because if you know your subject, you are better able to steer the conversation where you want it to go and focus on the facts you have at hand. Ultimately, the other party will be left with very little choice but to accede to your logic and agree to your terms.
An excellent example of this is when you have been made a job offer. Whilst discussing the details they will, undoubtedly, ask what salary you require. Instead of only stating a figure, you could go the extra mile and present them with elements of their business, relevant to your new role, which are underperforming or costing them money, backed with facts. This analysis will support any figure you request for and can help to justify your salary request.
2. Focus on solutions
Let’s imagine that you have a recommendation that can save the business a significant amount of money. You should communicate exactly how you intend to achieve this. Present to them the best way, in your opinion, that current issues can be rectified and what level of savings this will represent to the company.
It is vital to be aware of how feasible it is to implement your suggested solutions so that you can communicate this to them. Your solution must be deemed acceptable and achievable by the business. You could also present an illustration or prototype of your solution so that the other party has a complete understanding of it.
3. Adhere to a timeline
Continuing from the example above, having identified how much money the company is losing on a daily basis, your solution needs to reduce this figure as quickly as possible. You should list the recommendations in order of priority and make reference to any parts that are dependent on each other. The timescale you suggest should be aggressive. The company needs to know you are serious about fixing issues and that you will do it much quicker than they can. Your solution should include a breakdown of the cost of implementation and the savings that will be realized.
It should also include, if relevant, any additional revenue which will be generated. Figures are essential as companies operate mostly on these and will not go for any idea that only sounds good in principle. It is also important to be realistic; there is little point in promising to fix a problem in one week if you already know it will take a month.
4. Finalizing the deal
In this step, you need them to agree to your solution plan; the rest is just details at this point as they are probably already enthralled by your plan and ideas. The critical element of this stage is to phrase your question so that they can only say yes. Something such as “shall we start this new project today” or “would you like to wait until next week?” can help to seal the deal. Provided your request is reasonable, the question will be almost irrelevant; they need your services and you have successfully clinched the deal on your terms!
Don’t be intimidated by business negotiations. Do whatever you can to win, or at least reach an agreement and walk out the door with something. Engage in dialogue with a professional attitude. Focus on the people and start talking about your business only after you’ve triggered their interest.
Steve Brown is a contributor to top business sites and mainly focuses on business-related topics. He recommends The Gap Partnership where you can get negotiation experts and Practitioners in consultancy and development.
Picture Attribution: “Give Take Switch Means Offering And Receiving” by Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net