“If you were going to summarize 5 key things for people to remember or consider when negotiating, what would they be?” I get asked this question a lot. And it’s actually a really difficult question. Simplifying negotiation down to a ‘top 5 things’ list is tough. So here goes.
5 Keys to a Successful Negotiation
- Who Are You Negotiating With? – Who are the potential stakeholders? Don’t just consider who is sitting at the table with you, but consider others who relate to that person. If negotiating with a firm, consider not just the CEO but also the COO and perhaps the needs of the clients. Additionally, whom within your company do you need to ‘negotiate’ with in order to make your negotiation successful. Too often we’re not dealing with decision makers in the negotiation. Get in front of someone who can make a binding decision. Don’t screw around with someone who’s not a decision maker if you don’t have to.
- Know Your Alternatives? – Before any negotiation, ask yourself, ‘What am I going to do if I don’t cut a deal?’ What are your alternatives? More specifically, what is your “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement,” or BATNA (Go read ‘Getting to Yes’ by Roger Fischer and William Ury). For example, if you are acquiring a product on behalf of your firm, before you approach your preferred vendor, solicit offers from backup vendors. You need a BATNA, don’t go into a negotiation without one.
- How Are You Perceived? – We talk about perception a lot in our blog post on perception. Folks, let’s be honest with each other,….PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING! Especially in negotiation. And, raising your perceived value is critical to negotiating good deals. What do I mean by perceived value? How you value your service or product and how a buyer values your service or product may be two completely different things. You may think that your product is the best thing since sliced bread and that people would be fools not to buy it, but a buyer may perceive it as a bad product, second tier, lower grade, or worse …not necessary.
- Are You Asking for More Than You Expect to Get? – This is the golden rule of negotiating! “Always ask for more than you expect to get.” should be tattooed on the inside of your hands so you never forget. These types of simple golden rules are so basic that sometimes we forget about them and take them for granted and often we don’t even think about why it is they are so important.
- Are You Confident? – If you don’t have confidence, chances are that you’ll be pretty ineffective in negotiation. According to new research, under-confident negotiators achieve a successful outcome in just one in five of the negotiations they’re involved in. So how’s a person supposed to develop more confidence? Answer: PREPARATION AND PRACTICE. The more preparation you do and the more practice (think role-playing….not that kind of role playing) you put in prior to the negotiation, the more confident you’ll be.