Are you thinking of asking for a raise? Do you have to close business deals on a daily basis? How often do you interact with investors, suppliers and employees? These three questions we just mentioned demand one thing in common – negotiation. In the business environment, this form of collaboration can’t be avoided. Reaching agreements and persuading opponents to agree to whatever you are offering them can be hard. To succeed, you must adhere to a set of strategies; even the most trivial mistake can be fatal to your business. Here are 5 things to consider when negotiating in business.
1. Avoid making assumptions
Preparation is the key to success in a negotiation, but this doesn’t just mean knowing facts and numbers. According to business experts in the field, lack of preparation is a recipe for disaster. How prepared should someone be when bargaining? First of all, we’re talking about a process that involves gathering data and understanding that data. Know as much as possible about your opponent’s business needs, hopes, fears, and values. Don’t assume that everything is negotiable and be aware that some things are just not open for discussion. There’s no need to be pushy. To gain more clarity, prepare a set of fundamental questions for your opponent. This will help you understand what he wants and how far will he go in case of a compromise.
2. Be patient
Proper negotiation deals take time to materialize. If you want things to go smooth, you must learn to have patience. Take all the time you need to establish a business connection with your opponent; allow them to speak and wait for your turn. Don’t interrupt and never adopt a defensive attitude. Many business people are afraid that making short pauses may have a negative effect on their meeting. In fact, pauses can help everyone at the table recover perspective and dispose of undue emotions.
3. Never take things personally
Never assume that an aggressive approach at the negotiation table means your opponents have something personal with you; they don’t. It’s easy for people to let their emotions get the best of their judgment, particularly if we’re referring to things that affect them on an emotional level. Emotions can interfere with your productivity, so it is best to avoid them (or at least hide them – don’t allow counterparts to sense that a phrase they just said has affected you). Challenge yourself as much as possible, and make moments where you feel defensive and attacked appear moments of curiosity where you can ask for feedback.
4. Say “NO” to an unfavorable deal
As much as we want all negotiations to end well, sometimes things go the other way round. Bargaining for something can be a tiring, long and even stressful process. Settling can be difficult when the parties involved can’t find mutual ground. Compromising for the sake of closing a deal is never a good idea, especially if that deal can’t bring any benefits to your company. Sometimes no deal is better than any deal. It can be discouraging to walk away from a negotiation with nothing, but at least you have clarity and confidence that you walked away from something that couldn’t have brought you any benefits.
5. Avoid over-negotiations
Don’t over-negotiate a deal because your opponent might think you’re desperate. If you happen to be in advantage, it’s best that you don’t abuse that “power”. Over-negotiating may have unpleasant consequences. It could make an opponent rethink his proposal, and in worst case scenarios, it could change their minds entirely. It’s a risk you cannot afford to take. Maintain a professional attitude until the end. Nobody likes a business person who agrees to a deal only to change the terms with minutes before signing the contract. Be careful; if you do that you risk losing everything.
How far are you willing to go to close a negotiation? Success takes time to materialize, and sometimes it takes longer than expected. Negotiation training can also help for the purpose. As a business individual with or without experience, you must learn to be patient. Talk all the time you need to speak, but allow your opponents to speak as well. Maintain a professional attitude from start to end, and you have the highest chances of building a real business connection with your counterpart.