There are countless books that have been written about the art of negotiating. It’s no wonder people seek advice on the topic since we all deal with the process of negotiating in almost all aspects of life. From marriage and parenting, to who takes care of which household chore, every day involves utilizing negotiation skills learned at a young age. When it comes to competition, the business environment can be uncivilized and ruthless.
Your negotiating skills may have helped you get laundry duty in lieu of doing the dishes, but they may be amateurish when it comes to getting the contract terms that you want without sacrificing what you need most.
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned CEO running your own business or just starting the ladder climb, everyone in the workforce should learn how to negotiate contract terms. Effective negotiating requires that you identify your goals and strategize based on principles, not feelings. The following guidelines will help you to reach your goals without making unacceptable concessions.
It might seem like common sense to come prepared to the negotiating table. The outcome won’t be in your favor if you don’t know how to formulate a plan or what you want to gain from the process. What are you really after? Don’t be afraid to be ambitious as you prepare using the following tips.
- Have a benchmark number in mind. The first offer is most often the gauge by which all subsequent offers will be assessed.
- Be bold but don’t be unreasonable. You can’t receive what you don’t ask for. Be confident and have the data and figures to back up what you are offering or asking for. Provide examples of industry standards and real market figures.
- Know what your priorities are. This helps you not to get overwhelmed by details that can be used as bargaining chips later.
- Do your homework and know who you are dealing with. It’s critical that you understand their point of view and background. When negotiating a contract, research as much as you can about the organization or client. What would a successful result look like for them?
- Try some calming exercises to get mentally ready. Having the right attitude will ensure that you enter negotiations level-headed, relaxed and business-like.
When you show the other side that you are prepared it sets a precedent that you will continue to bring professionalism and knowledge in the future.
Go Get What You Want
Now that you have prepared, it’s time to practice your negotiating skills in real life. Never lose perspective. It’s important to keep the totality of the picture and your long-term interests in mind during negotiations. Negotiating can be unpredictable but there are some basic rules that can apply to any situation.
Facts don’t care about your feelings. Choose your words wisely and don’t let your emotions interfere with business.
Do your best not to make the first concession. In most cases, the person who concedes first ends up getting less than what they planned. When making concessions, make them in small increments. Never concede without gaining something in return.
Don’t rush the negotiating process. Both parties will be better off if the contract process isn’t pressured or done in haste. You owe it to yourself to take the time to give it the consideration it deserves.
Is the person that you are negotiating with able to keep their end of the deal? If the person doesn’t have the authority to give you what has been promised, don’t bother negotiating.
Be prepared to walk away. The goal is always to end with a win-win situation, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Realize that you did your best and in the end, you gained valuable negotiating experience.
Seal the Deal
Successful negotiating requires a creative strategy and staying focused to the very end. Everything can be negotiated. If you don’t like a certain detail, ask for it to be removed. Similarly, if something has been left out, ask for it to be included. Your effort will be rewarded if you are willing to take the time to learn how to negotiate.