While the definition of negotiation is pretty straightforward, the actual process is not. The process is so divergent that if you asked ten different people how to negotiate, they would probably give you ten different answers. Although negotiations depend on many individual, organizational, and situational factors, there are some fundamental negotiation skills that are crucial to any process.
1. Do Your Research
Learn as much about the company and more importantly the person(s) with whom you will be dealing. Reach out to your network to see if anyone has had interactions with these people. If your organization has multiple warehouses, you could ask someone with a similar position in a different warehouse about their experience negotiating with management. By doing this, you may be able to learn how management operates or at the very least discover if who is a hard-line or easy negotiator—anything that will help your strategy.
2. Have a Strategy
Negotiating without a strategy is like walking into a gunfight with a knife. Rule number one — determine where you want to end up. Whether it's a raise, promotion or price, be aware of your outcome and always begin above that because unless you have a monopoly or supernatural abilities, you will have to concede something at some point. Another key negotiation strategy is — do NOT use the word between. Between suggests, you have a range and anyone with half a brain will immediately begin at the bottom of that range.
3. Be Patient
Try your best not to make the first move. The first offer sets the top-end benchmark, which is a large signal and an advantage that you do not want to concede. If they move first, you obtain a ballpark of what they think your offering is worth, and this benchmark might get set higher than what you had in mind. Moreover, it is typically the case that wherever they start there is usually room to go up.
4. Learn What Individuals Want
No matter how much we would like to believe negotiations are a logical, rational process, the truth is they almost always boil down to an individual wants and needs. People usually don't have a problem spending other people's money, but they might if their mandate is to keep spending low. Engage with the people on the other side of the table, question them effectively, find out their concerns and their mandate. If you know what will make them look good, make that your concession that will get you a lot in return.
5. Provide Options
Discussing options can provide great insight into which benefits the other side values most. But more importantly, it can be used to help you gain the upper hand. Dan Ariley wrote a great book call Predictably Irrational in which he talks about the psychology behind how people choose between options (the truth about relativity). It all boils down to context and a simple premise that people find it easy to compare things to other things that are easily comparable. For example when choosing between 3 beer cases — one 18 cans, one 24 cans, and one 32 cans — most people prefer the 32 because it looks clearly superior to the 18. Use this theory of relativity to create smart options and negotiate your way to a better outcome.
6. Be Confident
Always display confidence in your product/service and yourself, regardless of who you are sitting across from. If you're not, it will be evident, exploited and could give them the advantage. Most of all make sure you have the conviction to trust your instincts when closing a sale. If you're sitting at the table, understand that you didn't get there by accident. Know what you are willing to give or take, and use this personal knowledge to decide when to stand your ground and know when to walk away.
At times negotiations can seem severe, painful and very very long. All of the above negotiation skills will increase your chances of getting what that you want, but the one thing you should always remember when negotiating is this: if they've come to the table, it means they want what you have.
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