No-Nonsense Negotiating Strategies

By Lori Turner-Wilson

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series. If you’re fighting for who’s right in a negotiation, by definition, someone loses. That’s the philosophy behind negotiation strategies that build relationships versus tearing them down. Whether you “win” or not, a customer may not continue to buy from you if they felt beaten down through the negotiation process. The objective is to close a mutually beneficial deal versus winning the negotiation.

Adopt that philosophy and employ these 10 negotiating tips, and you’re sure to close more winning deals for both parties.

Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. Prepare for a negotiation by jotting down your perceptions and assumptions about the other party and the negotiation. Next, write down how you imagine the other party perceives things, allowing yourself to see both sides of the playbook ahead of time.

The person who speaks first sets the tone for negotiation. Script your opening word for word, ensuring it demonstrates both strength and openness to finding a mutually beneficial solution.

The person who asks the most questions determines the direction of a negotiation. Ask more “what” than “why” questions to steer the conversation toward fact-based reasoning.

Never argue, but always ask questions for understanding. If a prospect says “that price is too high,” surprise him by agreeing in this way. “You’re right. This is a lot of money. Perhaps I’ve included some services you don’t need or you could do yourself.” Ask clarifying questions, and then offer to return later with itemized pricing, which should net a higher total, demonstrating the value of packaged pricing.

People do things for their reasons, not yours. Find out what the other side wants, and help them get it.

The person who listens most will have the greatest effect on the outcome.

Do not bargain with yourself by cutting costs before you present to a client, or you’ll be making unasked-for concessions for which you won’t get credit. Bargainers won’t buy without a recession.

If you know your prospect is going to have a concern, lead with it. Include it in your opening remarks to minimize it as an issue.

When interpreting someone’s intention to find a workable solution, pay more attention to their feet than their words. If they aren’t headed for the door, they are still interested.

Never make a concession the minute you know you can and unless you can explain what new info you have that justifies it, or you’ll lose credibility. Instead, slow down the negotiation and explain that you’ll get back to them.

Ultimately, the best negotiating strategy is to maintain a strong balance sheet and very satisfied clients, as doing so allows you to make good decisions for your company.

Lori Turner-Wilson is Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com.