Negotiation is one of the most important skills small business owners can have–but it’s often one that they lack. In today’s guest post, negotiation expert Jim Camp shares 11 tips to improve your chances of getting what you want from your next negotiation.
Running a business entails dozens of negotiations every day: getting employees to learn a new process or program, making personnel decisions, managing conflict, dealing with customers and suppliers, wooing new clients, improving sales, working out pricing, and so on.
The best way to boost your effectiveness as business owner is to learn some basic skills used by professional negotiators. Here are 11 of them:
- Start with “no.” Don’t compromise. Instead, invite the other party to say no. Tell him you won’t take no as a personal rejection. A shrewd adversary will view you with more respect; a naïve adversary will feel safer to start the discussion.
- Forget closing. Don’t think about, hope for, or plan for the outcome of the deal. Focus instead only on what you can control: your behavior and activity during the negotiation.
- Be prepared. Before you go into a meeting, learn everything you can about the other party, the competition, and your own position.
- Identify obstacles. Before any meeting, identify everything you can think of that might come up during the negotiation — your baggage and their baggage.
- Expose the elephant. Bring your problem, their problem, and anything else standing in the way of your agreement out into the open. Doing so clears the air and eliminates surprises.
- Have no emotions. In negotiations, be emotionally neutral. Exercise self-control so you have no expectations, fears, or judgments. Above all, overcome neediness, the number-one deal killer.
- Be like Columbo. Let your opponent feel superior to you. This is the “Lt. Columbo Effect.” Don’t dress to impress, name drop, use fancy language, or get on a grandstand.
- Get him talking. The person talking most loses the advantage. Ask questions that begin with what, why, how, when, and where. Learn about his needs, requirements, hopes, fears, plans, position, and business objectives so you can position yourself as the solution.
- Build your M&P for him. Every negotiation, whether it’s a phone call or a formal business meeting, needs a mission and purpose. Your M&P is to help the other party see how your three or four top features will benefit him and help him achieve his goals.
- Solve his problem. Help him see that giving you the deal you’ve proposed is to his advantage. Spend all of your time getting information about his world, understanding the challenges he anticipates, and the problems he sees–and then present yourself as the solution.
- Don’t be friends. The other party is not your friend. You’re not seeking loyalty or a long-term relationship–symbols of neediness. What you want, instead, is respect and a fair agreement that accomplishes your mission and purpose, and solves his problem.
Jim Camp is president and CEO of Camp Negotiation Systems, and has trained and coached over 100,000 people through thousands of negotiations in more than 500 organizations. He is founder of J. Camp University, which offers Camp Method “Start with No” Credentialed Negotiation Skill Courses to organizations and individuals who wish to develop professional negotiating skills and become credentialed in negotiation. His bestselling book, Start With No (Crown Business), has been translated into 12 languages. Find out more at www.StartwithNo.com.