Chris Croft's Personal Blog

September 1, 2011

Negotiating – my top 20 tips

Filed under: My top 20s of all subjects, Negotiation Skills — chriscroft @ 6:06 pm

1. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Remember that by negotiating you are never going to cause yourself to lose the deal, providing you are nice and you are prepared to crumble.

2. Instead of saying no, why not offer a trade and see if they are prepared to make it worth your while? If they can’t, then it’s them that are saying no, not you.

3. Avoid fear and embarrassment by thinking of the negotiation process as a game. Observe the other person, and learn from both good and bad opponents.

4. Aim for a win/win outcome where tradeables can allow you both to gain. Prepare the things that you can easily offer them which they will find valuable, as well as the things that you want from them that they could easily give you. The more tradeables you can prepare, the better – try to have at least thirty.

5. Set your walk away point and NEVER go beyond it, even by a small amount. This is the source of all your strength. If you have to walk away then you’ll be stronger next time because you KNOW that you can walk away. Your walk away point is not determined by the market rate, it is determined by your personal situation.

6. Prepare their possible weaknesses to make yourself feel stronger. Put yourself in their situation. Think about their weaknesses rather than your own. Ask them questions to confirm the existence of these weaknesses. Don’t be intimidated by sole suppliers – they still have weaknesses, like fear of competitors that you don’t know about, individual sales targets to meet, etc

7. Always be nice, whatever the other person is doing. Nice, but steely and scientific underneath.

8. Ask questions and listen – the more you talk the more you give away. The more you find out the more you will gain.
9. Try to avoid opening first. Their opening offer might be good news, and whatever it is you will gain information and can modify your opening position accordingly.

10. Open wide. Your opening offer should be just beyond the best you could hope for, otherwise you’ll never get the best.

11. The Flinch – look for a reaction when you put your opening offer on the table (no reaction means you didn’t go far enough, so don’t move from there) and also, make sure YOU give a reaction when THEY open. Negotiating isn’t about hiding all reactions – if you don’t react they will think their opening offer wasn’t wide enough.

12. Don’t open with a round number. A more precise number sounds scientific, as if it’s already your limit, and from there you can more in small amounts.

13. Move in small steps. Large steps give more away, and imply that you’ve much more still to give, and also they make your opening position look dishonest.

14. Look out for, and use, The Vice, where you say “You’ll have to do better than that I’m afraid”. The Vice is usually a buyer’s tactic. The answer to it is “How much better exactly?” (In other words, get them to open).

15. Never concede unilaterally, giving things away to make them happy with you. This just makes you look weak and makes them ask for even more. Instead, trade using the format “If you… then I…”

16. Look out for The Salami – where they ask for lots of small concessions that all add up (a slice at a time). Fight back by saying “If you want that then you’ll have to give me X” or “If you want that then you can’t have the other slice that I agreed to just now”.

17. Never use the phrase “final offer”, either as a statement of as a question. If you ask them if it’s their final offer they will have to say yes, and then they can’t move – you have closed the door on any future progress. And if you use it then next time they will wait till you use it, so you have lost your ability to manoeuvre.

18. If they offer to split the difference it means that they have already given up, so the best answer is “No, I’m afraid this is as far as I can go”.

19. Watch out for the Nibble, which is when they introduce something extra after you have reached agreement. Be prepared to call off and restart the whole deal if they try this.

20. Review – did it go to plan? What did you learn?

There we are – and remember, “To know and not do is to not know…..”

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