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It’s time to understand the rules of negotiation and practice achieving that “win-win” you’ve always wantedKeep your emotions from taking over the negotiations and if necessary, be willing to walk away
Successful negotiators are assertive and challenge everything – they know that all things are negotiable. Yet negotiating isn’t a skill most of us are born with; however, it can be learned with the right approach. Being assertive means asking for what you want and refusing to take NO for an answer. But how can you successfully negotiate a “win-win” when you don’t understand the rules? I’m here to share some straightforward steps for the next time you’re at the car dealer or flea market in order for you to get the biggest bang for your buck.
1. Preparation is Key – if you are a buyer, make sure you are thoroughly familiar with the product or service that will be the subject of the negotiation. If the other party senses you are weak on such details, you may be a prime target for a bluff or another technique designed to create anxiety and uncertainty.
2. Have a price in Mind – most negotiators have a price target or goal in mind before they start. The first price is usually the “stupid price.” You’re not expected to pay that. Know that the salesman has the ability to lower the price (and he expects to be asked about a lower price), but it should be based on realistic expectations.
3. Implement a Strategy – the first offer is usually the most important and the benchmark by which all additional offers will be judged and compared. You’ll never get what you don’t ask for, so make your first offer bold and aggressive. Start lower than the seller expects and don’t worry about insulting the other party. As long as your offer is not ridiculous, the other side will continue the negotiations in hopes of settling at a better number.
4. Find the Leverage – in addition to exploiting the other party’s weaknesses, concentrate on taking maximum advantage of your strengths. If you’re shopping for a car late on a Saturday night you have tremendous leverage across the board. If you are the buyer in a depressed economy, you normally have the advantage of too much supply and lower demand. The current housing situation is a classic example of what happens when supply vastly outweighs the demand and market prices fall dramatically.
5. Go For a Win-Win Solution – throughout the negotiation, try to determine what you believe to be an acceptable outcome for the other party. It may be a combination of different things that aren’t necessarily tied solely to price.
6. The Offer – an offer is more than just a dollar amount. It must include all of the elements of the bargain: offer price (in proper denomination), statement of work or full product description (scope), express warranties (if any), and terms and conditions. Present or request a written offer and include all elements of the bargain.
7. Closing the Deal –negotiation is like chess in that each move should be designed to set up not only your next move, but also several moves down the line. Always have the end-game in mind as you plot your strategy, and be prepared at some point to split the remaining difference. It’s almost inevitable when the parties are close but can’t seem to make that last leap to a single number. It’s completely subjective, but it gets the job done. That’s why all the offers leading up to that point are so important: they will set the stage for the final handshake.
It’s possible to lessen the fear of negotiating, but it takes practice. The more you incorporate these steps the more confident and successful you’ll become as a “win-win” negotiator. Remember, successful negotiators are optimists; if you expect more, you’ll get more.