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Most of our communications with others have some edge of negotiation to them. With clients, it’s about meeting their needs while also selling more. With prospective business partners or concerning new business opportunities, it’s all about leveraging assets. Everyone is after the elusive upper hand, making negotation one of the most hotly discussed topics.
There are many misconceptions, such as the belief that you have to have the most experience, resources or financial capital to be the one in power. When it comes down to it, there are three pieces of advice that carry more weight than any of those beliefs.
At the end of the day, whoever enters a negotiation is simply looking for a good deal. They want to feel good about what they’re getting, and oftentimes, they’re not shy about investing in just that. These three strategies will help you survive any negotiating session.
Have an exit plan
It’s frequently been said that the person who cares the least is the person with the upper hand, and there’s an element to this that’s true. However, giving off the impression that you don’t care in a negotiation isn’t always a good thing — unless you’re genuinely ambivalent about the end result. In other words, you have to be OK with walking out on the deal entirely.
We’ve all had negotiations or conversations with salespeople who feel desperate for our time and money, which makes it easy for us to negotiate with an advantage. Since they don’t have an exit plan, they will often acquiesce.
We often give up the terms we need the most. Sometimes we leave money on the table because we’re scared of losing the deal. If you go into a negotiating session with the attitude that things will be OK if they don’t work out, you will win either way.
Have answers for your perceived weaknesses
Inevitably, negotiations include the expression of concerns. Both parties want the best deal possible, and this can respectfully diminish the value of the others’ offering in order to do that.
Imagine another party says, “We’d love to work with you, but we have some concerns about the recent article that came out about the imminent downfall of your industry. They cited your company as one of the first to fold.” This could be destructive in a negotiation if you aren’t prepared to answer. However, a well-prepared answer could also turn the negotiation in your favor.
Much of this will be responding to hearsay, and note that anyone you’re negotiating with will do a deep-dive on the Internet, social media or by asking around about your reputation. However, there is one thing you can get ahead of: bad reviews.
The last thing you want in a negotiation is negative leverage that the other party can use over you. There are services that can help you scrub the internet of reviews that aren’t factual or are overly harsh. But you should also consider openly responding to reviews that were left with care. This shows that you have answers for your weaknesses and that you’re not afraid to defend your business or your name — that you don’t have anything to hide.
Related: 5 Rules of Salary Negotiation
Have laser focus
Finally, the level of knowledge you have about your industry, business or the deal itself goes a long way. Preparation for negotiations is expected, but if you go in after months of laser focus on your specific sector or value proposition, you’ll make anyone want to invest in you.
Remember, people invest in assets. You make yourself an asset when you have an intense focus on what it is that you’re doing — it ensures that you’ll get the job done.