Building your Negotiation Skills as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, you will need to build your customer base and create partnerships with other businesses. To succeed, you need to hone your negotiation skills. When going into a business negotiation, here’s what to bear in mind:
Know what you’re negotiating
Negotiations can be broken down into two categories. Asset negotiation involves haggling over a price for a one-time purchase, contracting a company for a one-time service, or negotiating some other one-time-only event. Asset negotiations don’t need to have winners and losers, but they can, and since you will not be working further with the other side of an asset negotiation, you can push your needs a little harder.
On the other hand, in long-term negotiations, you are establishing a relationship with the other party. These negotiations can be trickier, because you want to get what you need, but you also need to stay on good terms with the other party.
Before going into negotiations, take the time to learn about all participants. Study the other party or parties and try to figure out their needs and assets. What do they want from you? What matters most to them? What can they give up, and what will they be unwilling to give up? This is especially important to long-term negotiations, so that you can navigate that relationship with as much knowledge as possible.
Know how much to push
Many early negotiators assume that they need to push as hard as they can, even asking for unrealistic concessions. This can work in short-term negotiations, but it destroys trust and ruins relationships. Despite the cliche, business is personal, and people will remember if you try to slight them. Also, while our culture can prize high-risk negotiations, avoid the temptation to risk anything you can’t lose.
When the other party is talking, listen carefully without interrupting them. Not only is this polite, giving them the floor will make them more likely to make the first offer, which puts you in a better position. Also, learn to build your position by seeming agreeable without agreeing. Phrases such as “what I might be willing to consider is,” help build a common ground without making any promises that you could be held to later.
Remember that everyone involved in any negotiation simply wants to find the best possible solution. Think about the negotiation process as one of collaboration rather than opposition. Devote time to generating various solutions that seem mutually beneficial, and presenting them in negotiation.