Negotiate Your Way to a Thriving Business

The Road to Success

Successful entrepreneurs have varied skillsets, but one often overlooked skill is negotiating. Being a skilled negotiator is an important key to achieving both company and personal goals, and it can get you more mileage than you might think. Essentially, a business owner who can negotiate effectively is more likely to have a business that can thrive.

Good negotiation is one of the skills necessary for keeping a business running smoothly. Business is all about interacting with other people and businesses. They’re all give and take relationships, and you don’t want to be on the side that gives more than takes.

Even though negotiation is a very important skill, it doesn’t make it easy. It’s certainly not a skill that can be learned overnight. There are several things that go into negotiating properly.

Define goals
Just like every other business dealing you’re a part of, you’ll want to begin by defining and prioritizing your goals. It’s always a good idea to sit down with your team and write down your ultimate goal. Then, write down all of the little goals that must be met along the way.

For example, if you were a wholesale toy supplier negotiating with a buyer, your major goal might be to raise the prices they’re paying you, and one of your smaller goals might be to not accept less than a one percent markup. Knowing these goals ahead of time will give you more power and confidence as you navigate the deal.

Know what to sacrifice
Every negotiation will end with sacrifice in some aspect, but your goal is to sacrifice the least amount possible. The key is knowing your deal breakers, the things that you’ll be asked to sacrifice that will be too much, and you’ll need to walk away. If you know your limits, you’ll be able to sacrifice strategically enough that you’ll come out of the deal still feeling like a winner.

Sense when to walk away
Sometimes a deal simply won’t satisfy your goals, no matter how much you try. These situations show how important it is to know when and how to walk away. For most negotiators, the time to walk away hits when you’ve reached a point where you can no longer find a compromise that will work for both parties. When that happens, look for a way to politely end the discussion and begin looking at others who might make your deal.

Analyze possible outcomes
When you enter negotiations, it’s easy to become blinded by your vision and forget about the opposing side. It’s also easy to keep fighting for something when you could still happily settle on something a little less. The best way to avoid this trap is to write down and analyze several possible outcomes before you enter the match.

If you were the same toy company, you might write down a compromise such as “We’ll only markup the price one percent if you begin paying for shipping.” This may not have been your original plan, but you might find that it’s still a suitable trade that fits everyone’s goals.

Keep the ball in your court
Avoid revealing anything about your situation that might take away your leverage. For example, if they find out that you’re on a time crunch to make this deal, they might be less willing to give in on certain areas.

Likewise, look for anything you can to leverage your position, both before negotiations and during. Do your research on the entity you’re negotiating with to see if there is any information you can use to get your way. You’ll also want to watch the negotiator closely. If they seem nervous or keep checking their watch, it’s likely that you can push a little more to get your way without losing out all together.

Be patient
Above all, lead with patience. A negotiator with a hot temper who can’t slowly work the field will quickly kill the deal. In the midst of heavy negotiations is no time for instant gratification. You’ll have a much easier time getting your way if you don’t rush, and if you wait until the opportune moment to present a certain position or request.

You can research negotiation tactics to your heart’s content, but you won’t truly learn how to do it until you practice, which will happen more the longer you’re in business. Just remember to keep calm and remember all of the tactics you’ve studied, and you’ll be well on your way to negotiation success.