“In Business, as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”.
While John Stack’s 1980s book, ‘The Great Game of Business’ may have been about leadership philosophy, he certainly hit the nail on the head when it came to understanding business as a game. Successful deals take a fine balance between resilience, bravery, clarity, and concession but the skill that trumps them all is communication. In order to secure a successful deal, communication is key.
Here are a host of effective strategies to help get your next deal over the Line
1. Know Your Non-Negotiables
Whether it is a sale, employee contract negotiation, or vendor agreement, take stock of why the deal is important to your organization. What value does it bring? What opportunities does it create?
Understand the fundamental elements that you can and cannot concede. Have a ceiling and a floor for your financial requirements. Create a list of objectives you need to achieve. If the other party has created the contract, make sure to review it carefully to find your exact terms. Tools like LOIO are ideal for unscrupulously examining every clause and term of your contracts so don’t be afraid to rely on technology.
2. Don’t Concede Continuously
Negotiating, adjusting expectations, and making concessions are all part of establishing an equitable middle ground. If the items up for debate are not your must-haves, the tendency can be to just concede and move on. Avoid this.
Conceding on every unimportant detail creates momentum and expectation. Be stingy with your concessions and make them feel earned. Don’t bog down the negotiations but don’t cheapen your concession.
Consider using the “offer-concession” strategy. Make an offer on the terms but leave enough wiggle room so that the other side feels they have gotten a good deal.
3. Control the Agenda
The art of negotiations and business deals starts long before you get to the finer details. A quick edge can often be asserted by deciding on the location, time, agenda, and topics of discussion for your business meeting.
Positioning yourself as the moderator allows you and your counterpart to subliminally accept you as the party in control. If you can frame and steer the conversations, it is easier to arrive at an agreement suited to you.
4. Avoid Getting Stuck
Most contract negotiation strategies are likened to a game of poker. Someone will blink and concede first. However, never forget that there is an expiry date on good deals. Avoid getting too caught up in the gamification to realize a solid win for both parties.
If an issue is not a must-have, deal with it and move on. If the issue is important but you and the other party remain at loggerheads, agree to set it aside for now. It could be framed differently by the rest of the negotiations. When you come back to it, remove the emotional attachments and assess what makes the most business sense for both parties.
5. Be Prepared to Walk Away
You and your counterpart have come to the table in the interest of creating new value for your respective organizations. If the potential new value is compromised by continuous concessions, ultimatums, threats, or unreasonable demands, it may no longer make sense to create a deal.
Understand what happens if you cannot make a deal and how you can otherwise arrive at your business win. What alternatives are out there? What is the maximum amount you can concede and still derive a value? Will this deal be the beginning of a potentially damaging business relationship?
If the deal is vital to your organization’s prospects, then meeting excessive demands might be worth it. If not, know when to walk away.
Negotiation is a hard-earned skill that is founded in skillful communication and being informed is where it starts. Research your business goals, the value you bring, and potential alternatives. Preparing properly puts you in a position to back your negotiations with facts and figures rather than getting derailed by emotions and personalities.
If your negotiation skills are rusty, do a trial run with a colleague. Discuss your communication strategy and plan for different scenarios. In negotiations, practice makes perfect.