Be nice when you are negotiating – after all you do want their business or agreement, don’t you? It is also perfectly acceptable to be a bit more on the aggressive side as long as you can back up your position with solid facts.

If your price is higher than the competition but your offer or product has a clear advantage then the other party can at least see what you are offering and not immediately withdraw on the basis of just price. The key is being able to explain why you are making what is, after all, a reasonable request.

Successful managers learn from direct experience that success depends largely on keen negotiation skills, be it trying to seal a deal with customers, seek funding from investors, or resolve internal conflicts. As human beings we are almost always wrong in our own perceptions of our ability to negotiate. Someone who is too aggressive and driven will alienate the other party, being too passive or obliging is a clear weakness. Finding the correct balance is critical but using a balance of emotions will open up many opportunities to deliver and succeed.

Producing the first figure in the negotiation is a pivotal moment; this figure has a massive impact on the subsequent conversation; if the figure is in the right area then it serves as a strong anchor to the process but blurting out a figure that anchors the discussion in the wrong financial area can be a major problem. This then makes the compromise area harder to achieve.

Asking a lot of questions—especially the right questions—is part of the deal-making process. You must explore the other side’s interests and alternatives as deeply as possible to make sure things do not go wrong and that you are both discussing the right issues. The bottom line is making sure that both parties have something to gain from the process and that the agreement works for both sides.

There is a tendency for both parties to stick at the process and try to work at achieving a consensus purely because so much time and effort has been put into the negotiation – a more pragmatic view is to ignore this and recognise that if it has taken a huge amount of time to get this far without an agreement then there must be something wrong with the process, the product or service being negotiated or the personnel on both sides. Why prolong the agony?

Move on!

Walk away if it is “not right”. The pain of being locked into a poor relationship will only create bad feelings, lead to resentment and leave both parties unsatisfied.

“Do unto others …….” Is always a good mantra!

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