5 Ways To Improve Your Business Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is part of every day life. For example, when you find the perfect house to buy you don’t just accept the price the house is listed for (unless you’re in a highly competitive market where bidding wars are common).

Here’s another example: You’re flying from New York to Los Angeles. Since it’s a long cross country trip when you walk up to the check-in counter you inquire if there is a better seat available, perhaps request an upgrade so you can be more comfortable and get more work done during the flight.

Or what about when you make dinner plans with friends? You may text back and forth with your dinner partners as to what restaurant to meet at.

Everything is about negotiation in life – and in business. Yet when it comes to business, we often spend little time improving our negotiation skills. Instead, we just “fake it till we make it” and hope to succeed in closing deals.

Everything is about negotiation in life – and in business. Yet when it comes to business, we often spend little time improving our negotiation skills.

For more success, here are 5 ways to improve your business negotiation skills

  1. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive: If you walk into a business meeting with an overly aggressive posture or body language this will immediately put the others in the room on defense and set the tone for potential confrontation. Negotiation is not about confrontation. It’s about all sides feeling like they got a fair deal despite having to perhaps compromise. The key is to be assertive, not aggressive in getting your points across by being well prepared with your information.

  1. Listen: This is the most important thing you can do when negotiating. Listen more carefully. Talk less. When you’re listening, when you’re hearing what others are saying – not just the words but really listening – you can get a clue picture as to where the negotiations are going and to what others are really thinking.

  1. Understand What Others Want: Ask yourself questions when preparing to negotiate as well as during the actual meeting including:

  • What position are they coming from?

  • What do they need in this negotiation in order to come to an agreement?

If you can understand what others need, then it’s easier to negotiate. If you’re so far apart and you don’t understand each other, this creates a potentially serious problem. It creates tension, even conflict. It creates an impossible situation that may not be overcome. It’s how business deals are lost.

  1. Make It A Win-Win For Everyone: Understand where the other side stands on the business issues being negotiated. Understand what they need. Present information that demonstrates to them how you can give them what they need. If you do, everybody wins. If not, the other side walks away from the negotiation not feeling like they got what they wanted. Everybody needs to win. Negotiation is not a battle. It’s not a contest. It’s not a sporting event where somebody wins and somebody loses. Everybody has to win in some way or other for the negotiation to be a success – and for doing business together to be a success.

  1. Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself: Sometimes business people do just that – they get ahead of themselves during the negotiation process. They lose patience in getting to the end game, so to speak.

For example, sometimes people walk into the negotiation and immediately lay down demands. Such as: This is what it is going to cost. Or: This is what I want you to do.

Be patient. Sit back. Take in the conversation on all sides. Make small talk. Connect with everyone at the meeting. Let it unfold as you would want it to unfold but don’t get ahead of yourself and don’t hurry the process along. There is no hurry. Keep in mind you may not get another chance.

Always stay focused on the goal. That’s why the meeting needs to create a win-win for all sides. If negotiations break down, as sometimes they do, you may not get another opportunity or it will be much more difficult when negotiations resume. The key is to be patient.

Remember, everyone at the meeting is just like you. Everyone has wants, needs and business issues to resolve through the negotiation process. Everyone wants to be in a winning position once the negotiations are completed. Everyone, including you, may have to give up something in order to gain the business relationship.

If you have someone on the other side of the table who’s interested in negotiating with you there isn’t any reason why you can’t work it out.

Know your boundaries. Know what you are willing to say “yes” to and what you are prepared to say “no” to.

To your success!