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  • How To Negotiate For What You Want

    Negotiate photo from ShutterstockHow do you get what you want while leaving the other party feeling like a winner too?

    Negotiating, when done correctly, creates strong win-win situations for both parties. Unfortunately, most ambitious professionals are stuck somewhere between emulating the stereotypical Hollywood idea of a hardball business tycoon and flashbacks to childhood memories of being told to be patient and wait for rewards. As a result, most professionals fear negotiating and treat it more as a guessing game or blackjack table.

    You cannot advance your career or be a successful business owner if you avoid asking for precisely what you want or enter into negotiations without having a plan in place. With that in mind, here are five ways that you can quickly become a power negotiator:

    Know exactly what you want

    Identifying what you want before entering negotiations gives you the ability to both visualize the outcome and avoid leaving the table with the feeling of selling yourself short. Have an exact dollar amount, terms, etc. outlined on paper prior to meeting with the other party.

    Once you identify your desired meeting goal, be prepared to ask for slightly more, allowing wiggle room for your boss or client to ‘come down’ to your desired price. However, don’t be surprised if, using the next four tips, you actually walk away with more than your initial goal.

    Understand the other party’s position

    What are their requirements and restrictions? Take the time to research the company and/or person you’re meeting with and discover their surface needs, past negotiation outcomes, and what would make them look good. Remember that price is not always the most important factor, contrary to what the client or boss may say.

    I was a hotel sales manager in my early twenties. One of the most valuable lessons my Director of Sales taught me was to offer what the competition cannot. As an example, my primary competition for large corporate conventions were two hotels nearby. My property had over fifty suites while each of the other hotels had less than fifteen. As a result, I would offer the meeting planners large quantities of complimentary upgrades for all of the company VIPs. Even offering a slightly higher room rate, I almost always got the business simply because the meeting planner jumped at the opportunity to look good by negotiating suites for company influencers. In the end, it wasn’t about negotiating the lowest price, but the best deal for the company.

    Know your value

    What do you bring to the table? Are you offering a revenue-generating service to another business? If so, how much money will they make as a result of securing your services? If you’re negotiating for a raise, understand if you’ve greatly outperformed past hires, making or saving the company a significant amount of money.  How much would it cost the company to lose you?

    Never accept less without gaining concessions

    While you may not walk away with the exact dollar amount you envisioned, you can ensure that you leave with your desired ‘value.’ If you’re seeking a 7% raise, but your boss informs you that the best the company can offer is 5%, consider requesting the ability to work from home one day a week or an additional five paid vacation days per year. Figure out an alternative option that is worth that 2% for you. Accepting less without gaining something in return is the equivalent of stating that you are worth less than your initial ask.

    Be willing to walk away

    Know your bottom-line and always be willing to walk away.  While this can be difficult when dealing with large pieces of potential business or even a dream job, it is imperative that you never enter negotiations without the option to walk away. This lessens the likelihood of the other party being able to use hard-ball tactics to back you into a corner. Also, there will be times when you will need to state that their offer is not sufficient, and you don’t think you’ll be able to do a deal. You may be surprised how often negotiations that seem to have broken down completely can be revived when the other party understands that you are not desperate, and that you have options.

    When was the last time you negotiated for exactly what you wanted and walked away a winner? What tactics did you use? Share your comments below.

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    Crystal Washington is a social media marketing strategist, speaker, co-founder of Socialtunities—a social media instruction brand that trains Gen Ys-Boomers on the strategic use of social media, and the author of The Social Media WHY: A Busy Professional’s Practical Guide to Using Social Media Including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Blogs for Business. She is hired by corporations and associations around the globe to provide keynotes, workshops, and webinars. Connect with Crystal via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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    Posted in entrepreneurship, Job Search, Skill Development, Workplace Success
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    4 comments on “How To Negotiate For What You Want
    1. avatar
      EXPERT
      Richard says:

      Great advice, Crystal. I would add “evaluate your relative negotiating strength”. If you are in a strong negotiating position, then that factor can influence whether to negotiate and how firm to be during the negotiations.

      • avatar
        EXPERT

        Great tip Richard. Not only would your tip suggest IF a person should negotiate, but also when. There may be certain times of the year or events when one’s position is more favorable.

    2. avatar
      EXPERT
      Regina says:

      This is the part I struggled with for years, “know your bottom-line and always be willing to walk away.” I always felt like I should be grateful for whatever the offer was however, afterwards I always felt like I was settling. It never “felt” good. I now know what my bottom-line is and even when I’ve had to walk away, it felt so good! Thank you for sharing this awesome creative tip as well: “Never accept less without gaining concessions.” Always love your advice, Crystal!

      • avatar
        EXPERT

        You’re welcome Regina! I think many of us can identify with thinking that expressing gratitude meant accepting any little increase. Congrats on becoming a power negotiator! ;)

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