Negotiating and making deals is a big part of business. If you get it right and make good deals, you can push your business forward and expand. But if you don’t negotiate well, you’ll end up entering into deals that only hinder progress and work in favor of the other parties. It’s often said that being a good negotiator is something that you’re born with and you can’t learn it. That might be true to some extent but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain things you can do to help negotiations go your way. This is how to master the art of business negotiation.
Sort Out Your Image
Image is a very important part of business in general but you need to pay extra attention to it when it comes to negotiating deals. When people first meet you and visit your company, they’ll start making judgments about you. If they don’t think that you’re very professional and they get the sense that you don’t really know what you’re doing, they’ll start trying to take advantage and that’s when they’ll offer you a bad deal. You need to make sure that they’re bowled over by that first meeting so they know you mean business and they can’t walk all over you. One of the main things to consider is the office space itself. If you invite them into a tiny office, they’re going to get the impression that you’re not doing very well. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire some premium office space that screams professionalism and success.
The way that you maintain the office is important as well. If they walk in and the place is dirty and there are papers all over the place, they’ll get the impression that you’re not a very organized company and they might not want to do business with you at all. Always make sure that you keep the office clean before you invite people to visit the company.
As well as the office, you need to sort out your own personal image. Always make sure you’re dressed well and you’re polite with people when you first meet. Taking them out for lunch somewhere fancy is always a good way to impress on the first meeting.
Use The Right Tone
People often get the wrong idea about business negotiations and they think that it’s a battle between 2 sides. The only way to win is to beat down your opponent until they agree to your demands. That’s not the case in most negotiations. Instead, you should be trying to find a middle ground that works for both of you so everybody is happy. You’re far more likely to get people to make concessions for you and work with you to find a happy medium if you’ve got a good working relationship with them. That’s why your tone and body language are so important when you go into negotiations. If you’re hostile and you go straight in demanding things, you’re not going to get very far. But if you are polite and well mannered and you have a reasoned discussion about the needs of both sides, they’ll be a lot more willing to work with you. It’s also a good way of forming a long lasting relationship between 2 parties. If this deal goes well and it helps to further your business, you’ll want to work together again in the future. There’s not much chance of that happening if the negotiations were hostile. But if you’re civil to one another, this will be the start of a long relationship that benefits you both.
Get Rid Of Time Wasters
Some people might approach you without serious intention of doing business with you. They’ve probably done the same to a lot of different companies, just to probe and see what their options are. You need to get rid of them as soon as possible so you’re not wasting time and resources trying to negotiate a deal that’s never going to happen. The easiest way to work out whether somebody is serious about making a deal or not is to ask them about specifics. If you start probing them on their specific needs and what they hope to get out of a deal, they’ll probably just fade out of negotiations because they aren’t serious enough to put together that information. Trying to get them to agree to a face to face meeting is another simple way of working out if they’re time wasters or not. If they aren’t that bothered, they won’t take the time to meet with you.
Know Your Bottom Line
You’re going to have to make some sacrifices during a business deal, it is a negotiation after all. But there are also going to be some things that you aren’t willing to budge on. It’s important that you know what your bottom line is before you go into negotiations. Then you can lay out your priorities from the word go and everybody will know where they stand. If you don’t have a clear idea of what your bottom line is, you’ll end up spending ages in negotiations before realizing that you’re not going to make a deal in the end. You also need to be prepared to walk away from negotiations if your basic requirements aren’t met. It’s an easy way of cutting short negotiations that aren’t going to go anywhere instead of wasting everybody’s time.
Do Your Research
It’s important that you know what you’re walking into before the negotiations begin so you don’t get caught off guard. Do some research into your industry; what are the current market conditions? How have prices in your industry changed in the last couple of years? Are there any industry specific problems that might affect your deal? It’s important that you know these things so you can raise them during discussions and create a deal that accounts for them.
It’s also important that you know everything there is to know about the company you’re doing business with. If they’re not a particularly reliable company, you don’t want to do business with them. Look at any online reviews and check their recent financial history to make sure that there aren’t any skeletons in their closet.
Lastly, you need to check out the person you’ll be meeting with. If they’re making decisions about your deal, you need to make sure that they’re a good person to be working with. It might be hard to find out too many specifics but you could check their Linkedin profile to see what their job history looks like and maybe ask around to see if any of your other industry contacts have worked with them in the past.
Don’t Mention Price Right Away
You can sort out all of the other considerations but if you’re negotiating the sale of a product or service, it’s the price that everybody is really concerned with. You need to be careful what you do here because the person that mentions price first is often on the back foot. If, for example, you’re a buyer and you offer a price, that price might be a lot higher than the seller was thinking. In which case, you’re paying over the odds. If you’re a seller and you offer a price, that gives the buyer more room to disagree and try to push you down. Somebody will have to mention price at some point but you should try to hold off as much as possible and push them to show their hand first.
These are the most important things to remember if you want to master the art of business negotiation.