In a negotiation, it’s commonly accepted that there’s a winner and a loser. It doesn’t always have to be that way, and the best negotiations end in both parties leaving happy. Whatever the outcome, however, your goal is always to get the best deal you can. Negotiating on behalf of your business is an important skill to have—but it’s not always easy. Here are 5 tactics you can use to get the best deal—and help your business grow and thrive.
Coming into a negotiation without preparation can spell out a bad deal for you and your business. Take some time to do your research—wrangle that data, get to know more about the person you’ll be speaking to, and prioritize what you want out of the negotiation. Get into the mindset of making the negotiation positive before you get started—a win-win for both parties is always the best outcome.
2. Have two numbers in mind
When you first begin a negotiation, you’ll need to have a baseline to work with, or you may end up agreeing to a deal that doesn’t work for you. Have two realistic numbers ready before you walk in the door or pick up the phone: your target terms, and the terms that would make you walk away. Often, the end terms will land somewhere between these two numbers, which is why you need to be comfortable with anything within that range before you begin—so you can stick to your guns if need be.
3. Make the first move
Most people prefer to have the other party throw out the first number—but you should consider doing exactly the opposite. You should know what a realistic number is—but leave some room for negotiation (after all, that’s what you’re there for!). As long as the number isn’t insultingly low or high, the ball is now in the other person’s court, and you’ve gained an advantage. You have set the expectations for what is reasonable, and it is now the other person’s job to work around it.
4. Do a little back and forth
Even if you pretty quickly agree to the terms set forth, you may want to reconsider shaking on it right away. Typically, both parties are more satisfied with the meeting if there is a bit of haggling over price. It doesn’t have to be big, but make sure you do a little requisite back and forth before settling on the final outcome.
5. Use silence
A good negotiator masters the art of strategic pauses. Awkward pauses may seem, well, awkward, but they can give you some power in a negotiation. Pauses give you a moment to regroup, and tend to make the other party talk more, and try to justify their demands. This can be a good tactic when you’re given a low first offer. Silence shows you’re thinking about what the other person has offered, and is appropriate before suggesting a reevaluation of the offer.
Negotiations aren’t always going to go smoothly, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience negotiating for your business. That’s why it’s important to practice, and break through any communication apprehension or leadership challenges you might experience. Ask someone to role-play a negotiation scenario with you before you head out—it may not be exactly like the real thing, but practice can help you get on the path to becoming a master negotiator.