There are many sources to turn to for resources, tips and advice on mastering the art of negotiations. Inc. Magazine and Inc.com are good places where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, insights, and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.
Inc. Magazine has been publishing for more than 30 years. In 1996, they launched Inc.com as a place to access the current online issue of Inc. Magazine, as well as an archive of their back issues. Negotiations are a topic that comes up pretty regularly in the magazine and Web site. You can find tips on a variety of negotiation scenarios, including simple rules for customer negotiations, how to negotiate the buying and selling of your business, rules for venture capital negotiations, and key phrases NEVER to say.
Here are some key lessons learned from Inc. to help ensure that negotiations work to your advantage:
Tip #1: Neutralize the competition. A customer can only threaten to go to a competitor if the competitor represents a viable option. Before negotiating, convince the customer that your offering is the only one that can adequately meet his needs.
Tip #2: Develop realistic expectations. Temper your aspirations with “feasibility” based upon what your counterpart has in mind, and reassess your expectations as the negotiating progresses.
Tip #3: Know your pricing parameters. When it comes to price, know the deal you want and you can justify it as being realistic. Never offer a discount without some other concession to counterbalance it.
Tip #4: Give yourself room to maneuver. Leave yourself some bargaining room, but make sure that you have a plausible rationale for any positions that you take.
Tip #5: Don’t compete with the customer. Negotiations are attempts to reach an agreement, not a contest to see who can win. Make the relationship so important that it’s worth the extra effort, on both sides, to make reasonable concessions.
Tip #6: Know when it’s time to stop. If the negotiation is going well and you’ve got most of what you want, don’t keep negotiating. If you’re 90 percent there, you’re done.
Tip #7: Negotiate until the contract is signed. Don’t relax once there’s a meeting of the minds because until the contract is actually signed by both parties, it’s just so much moonshine.
Tip #8: Know the point past which you will not budge. Then you can make trade-offs and fight for the really important points.
Tip #9: The most important thing in negotiation is the ability to say “no.” In negotiation theory it’s called BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement.
Tip #10: Avoid the word “between.” It often feels reasonable-and therefore like progress-to throw out a range. But that word between tends to be tantamount to a concession, and you will find that by saying the word between you will automatically have conceded ground without extracting anything in return.
Tip #11: Never say “I think we’re close.” We’ve all experienced deal fatigue: The moment when you want so badly to complete a deal that you signal to the other side that you are ready to settle on the details and move forward. The problem with arriving at this crossroads, and announcing you’re there, is that you have just indicated that you value simply reaching an agreement over getting what you actually want.