Three Tips to Win at Negotiation

Win at negotiation

You want to win at negotiation. Even for the moderately competitive, the reality of something on the line gets the adrenaline flowing. You want to “Go for the win.” But what does that mean, and how do you achieve it?

Popular wisdom says, “Go for win-win.” But why? Doesn’t that really mean “Settle for the tie?” If you have the upper hand, why not play it to the hilt and go for the kill? Why not win the battle, dominate the negotiation, get everything you want and leave your opponent in the dirt?

The answer is simple. Winning at all costs is a losing proposition. The one thing that remains constant is change. You’re up today, and down tomorrow. People remember. And if you gave no quarter, expect none in return. Winning at all costs is a scorched earth policy. It’s burning bridges behind you. And someday you will need that bridge.

In business, new allies and competitors are constantly emerging. The playing field is changing constantly. And your best defense for survival is to have options. Sometimes, insights from your peers can bring new ideas into your negotiation mindset. Every burnt bridge limits your options and damages your competitive position.

To win at negotiation is to satisfy both parties. Sometimes both sides can get everything they want, but often you need to compromise in order to get a deal. So how do you get to win-win? Consider the following strategies:

  • Look beyond the obvious. For example, you might want to raise the price to your customer because shipping costs have increased. Meanwhile, the customer wants prices to remain low. There might be some negotiation on price itself, but if you are still separated on price, consider options such as bulk shipping discounts, or alternative shipping modalities.
  • Consider “value added” options. If you’re a seller and you’re deadlocked on price, see if you can include something which is valuable to the customer, but of less cost to you. Likewise, if you’re the buyer, see if the seller will include extra accessories, or bonus overage, or longer payment terms.
  • Make the other person feel good. You might not be getting everything you wanted, but neither did they. Congratulate yourselves on reaching agreement. Focus on what each of you is gaining. Work on strengthening the relationship, and future negotiations will benefit.

The business world is very small. You might think that this is a one-time deal, and that you’ll never see this person or this company again. But why chance it? Negotiate for the long haul. Your reputation will precede you. Be respectful, be professional, earn the respect of your peers, and win at negotiation.

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2 Responses to Three Tips to Win at Negotiation

  1. Neal August 1, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    I had an opportunity to award a large service contract. One of the competitors gave me his cell phone, home phone, and told me if there ever was an issue to contact him, he was the CEO. There were always small issues, but about two years later there was an big issue. I called him about 9 at night, and he resolved it almost immediately. To this day I forgot what the issue was, only that he was available and it got fixed right away.

    All too often we focus on the costs and the marketers, sales folks are looking to score another transaction. It is the experience of the execution that leads to lasting customer commitment.

    • Ellen Huxtable
      Ellen Huxtable August 2, 2016 at 5:05 am #

      Thanks very much for taking the time to share your experience, Neal. I very much agree – lasting business relationships are built on more than price. Often, the non-monetary factors, such as the responsiveness you experienced, are far more valuable than a few cents or even a few dollars savings. When there is an emergency, service and “the customer comes first” are priceless. Wise companies encourage their sales force members to nurture and strengthen existing relationships, and not just focus on the next new sale. Thanks again for contributing your insights to the post!

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