You are close to clinching a major business deal. The odds seem in your favour; discussions with the other party have gone well so far. Now, you’re at that stage where key terms need to be ironed out. It’s the make-or-mar stage, which defines whether you’ll get the contract or lose out completely.
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How do you win at this?
Business negotiations can be tough affairs to get through. There’s so much to think about before starting, and (potentially) so many bases to cover. Planning them ahead of time raises your chances of succeeding, but much also rests on how you plan.
If you have a business negotiation coming up, or you’d like to know how to crush it when the occasion calls, this article is for you. Let’s take you through seven steps to beat it.
Go In Prepared
We have already mentioned the need for preparation. But it’s worth emphasizing again. You can prepare for these discussions by going over the previous meetings you’ve had with the other party (if you have talked with them before).
Study all the relevant things about them that are relevant to your engagement with them: who they are, what they do, and what ways your offering could help them. Think about possible obstacles to a good deal being done, and have a plan to overcome them.
Being professional means remaining courteous and focused on the objective of the negotiation for as long as it lasts. What this would look like may differ across situations, but the general rule is that you stay calm and do what you can to keep the discussion fixed on the purpose for which you’re having the meeting.
If you have had previous engagements with the other party, you may have an idea of what to expect, and what they consider appropriate. Whatever the case is, maintain some degree of formality, without coming off as stiff.
Start With A High Or Low Offer
If you are on the selling side of the negotiation, you’ll want to begin with a low offer. And if you’re on the purchasing side, you should start with a high offer. Your high offer should be higher than what you hope to sell at, and your low offer should be lower than what you hope to purchase at.
The idea here is to provide a buffer for your preferred rate. As the back-and-forth of negotiations goes on, that buffer will erode. Your aim is to have a buffer that’s big enough to keep your preferred rate achievable, but not so big that it puts off the other party.
Know What The Deal Means For Both Parties
Knowing what the deal means to all parties concerned will enable you to approach the negotiations tactfully.
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Let’s say there are two sides in the negotiations: the paying side and the offering side. The paying side will want value for their expenditure, and the offering side will want to get paid what they consider a fair price. Regardless of what side you’re on, you should try to understand what the other side wants out of the deal. You can do this by studying them beforehand (see point one), and listening to them.
Go beyond merely listening to understanding what is being said, and responding in a way that shows that you’re taking the other party’s words seriously. There’s more on this below.
Mirror The Opposite Negotiator’s Words
This is fully practical advice. It follows on from active listening. When responding to the other party’s words, you could use some of the words they’ve used in your response. This gives them the impression that you’ve followed what they’ve said.
This approach is called mirroring. It’s often used in diffusing tensions between people, but it’s also great for regular business negotiations. You can even mirror other things from the opposite party—the speed and tone of their voice, and their body language. There’s more on body language next.
Use Body Language Effectively
We aren’t always aware of this, but when it comes to in-person discussions, body language plays just as important a role as what we say. There’s even a field dedicated to the mastery of body language for negotiations. The experts at this say that 55% of messages are communicated through non-verbal cues.
They also say that it’s important to begin any crucial meeting with a handshake. This makes the other person feel comfortable and open to cooperation. Maintain friendly eye contact, keep your chin up, your eyes level, and keep personal space. These are all cues that raise your chances of succeeding in negotiations.
Keep an eye on the gestures of the other negotiator too. Their posture and facial expression could give you clues that their words may not.
Go For A Win-Win
You want the best deal for your business. That’s a good thing. But driving at this purpose without considering the other person’s need may be counter-productive.
When you have the other negotiator’s aims in mind, you’ll be better able to go at the deal in a way that helps both parties achieve a win-win. If they benefit from the deal, they’ll be eager to do business with you again when the time comes for it.
You can succeed in your business negotiations if you approach them the right way. This article has provided you with a general set of steps you can take to do just that. Hopefully, you’ll be able to apply them in ways that bring good results your way.
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