Updated March 27 at 10:58pm

Mastering the art of negotiating


Negotiating is something that every business owner and entrepreneur does on a regular basis. Whether it’s a deal with a vendor, a client, an investor or superstar employee you’re trying to hire, negotiating skills come in handy all the time.

Knowing how to negotiate well is an important part of building a business. It’s a skill that’s worth spending time to develop since making the right deals can make a huge difference over time. In fact, the deals you negotiate can spell the difference between success or failure for your entire business.

Here are techniques suggested by master negotiators:

• Ask for more than you expect to get. This, of course, is fundamental to most negotiations and is something nearly everyone understands. Expert negotiators call this the key to success at the bargaining table. You might just get what you’re asking for, and the only way you can find out is to ask. It also prevents deadlocks when dealing with an egotistical negotiator who is determined to “win.”

• Flinch a little at the other side’s proposals. Failing to flinch, or at least look disappointed, is the No. 1 mistake that poor negotiators make. Always react with a degree of surprise that they would have the nerve to ask you for a concession – but in a nice and always professional way.

• Never say yes to their first offer. When you say yes to the first offer, you automatically trigger two reactions in the other person’s mind. They immediately think they could have done better or that something must be wrong because you’ve agreed to a proposal they didn’t think you’d accept.

• Play reluctant buyer, even if you aren’t. When you are buying, you can shrink the seller’s negotiating range with three steps. First: listen carefully to their proposal and ask all the questions you can think of. Second: tell them that you appreciate all the time that they have taken with you, but tell them it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. Third: At the last moment, call them back and say, “Just to be fair to you, what is the very lowest price you would take?”

• Watch out for good guy/bad guy. Whenever you are negotiating with two people look out for them using this tactic on you. One of them appears to be mean, tough and totally opposed to your proposal. The other is warm, friendly and very sympathetic to your proposal.

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