15 Effective Negotiation Tactics to Help Win Your Next Deal
Closing a big sale or contract can be tricky, especially when there are a lot of factors at play. But while some salespeople have a knack for getting signatures on the dotted line, others may find themselves struggling or losing out on deals, despite years of training.
That’s why we asked members of YEC the following question:
What is an effective negotiation tactic, style, or approach you recommend for striking a deal, and why do you favour it?
- Be transparent
I’ve found that being as transparent as possible in all negotiations provides the best outcomes, as it creates the healthiest long-term relationships. Most details that firms try to hide are eventually exposed over the course of business, and usually, any cover-up just increases the damage. Transparency allows for quality communication and sets clear expectations for all negotiating parties.
- Break down barriers and brinkmanship
Negotiate from a place of genuine relationship. Before I get to the negotiation table, I’ve taken the time to get to know the other parties on a personal level, not just professional. I invest in truly getting to know what makes them tick. This helps me anticipate and understand emotions that inevitably arise in the negotiation process, and stay level-headed to arrive at win-win conclusions.
- Talk less and listen more
Instead of trying to convince your counterparty by making your best pitch, start by asking open-ended questions and paying close attention. Not only does this exhibit empathy, but you’ll also be able to gain a lot of useful information about your counterparty’s goals, motivations, and fears. You can then use this knowledge to devise a win-win deal or decide how hard to push in the negotiation.
- Leverage uncertainty
Uncertainty can be a great negotiation tool at the beginning stages of a deal. Unfortunately, it’s something that can also lead to the deal failing in the early stages if it’s not executed correctly. Another option is to stay focused on the win-win and be sure to try and add value to everything within the agreement.
- Sell them on what they are getting
You have to know what you need from a deal and stick to it, but then always remind the other party how great the deal is for them. If they are excited about what they are getting and understand you think it’s fair, they will be more enthusiastic to agree on those terms.
- Be ready to walk away
Looking back at the last several years of deals closed, the biggest wins for us were the ones where we made some concessions, and then walked away when we didn’t get what we wanted. Having the mindset of not constantly caving and to be willing to move on has really helped us get deals done on our terms.
- Appeal to common values
I studied with the top negotiators in the world many years ago, and I’ll never forget the advice they gave to appeal to the common values of the parties involved. Remember, in negotiation, the end goal is mutually beneficial agreement, and you reach an agreement by seeing eye-to-eye on something. The easiest way to bring opposing parties together is to focus on shared goals, values, and outcomes.
- Always be of service
Many people are shocked when they hear me trying to close a deal. I give a LOT of information to the companies I work with, even before they sign a contract. This allows me to show my expertise and to prove to them we will always be their partner, even from the very first stage, even before a contract is signed. This creates trust from the beginning.
- Take your time and stay quiet
Unless an offer has a time-sensitive contingency, don’t hurry up and respond to an offer. Taking your time or suspending negotiations shows that you’re not desperate to close the deal and that you may be considering other options. Sometimes, silence applies more pressure to the party than words ever could.
- Leverage the power of ‘how’
The word “how” can transform a negotiation. It’s the most powerful word in any negotiation because it requires the opposing party to argue their case from your perspective. It’s more powerful than “no,” and it ensures the negotiations remain active in an effort to reach a mutual agreement. Next time you’re negotiating, ask the opposing party “how” and see what happens.
- Make it a low risk to get started
Provide a free or discounted sample of your product or service. Knowing the lifetime value of a customer allows you to do this, even at loss, if you know that you’ll be profitable on the back end. This offer will endear your customer to you and convert them from a shopper into a buyer. From there, it’s easier to transfer them to your standard pricing, upsell them, and cultivate referrals.
- Make the pie bigger
Most negotiations are done under the premise of “I want to take from you—it’s you versus me.” There is a limited-size pie, and everyone wants the biggest piece. When I negotiate, I look for a way to increase the size of the pie, so both parties can get a bigger piece. The best way to do this is to listen to everyone involved.
- Ask, ‘What would you do?’
If a client or employee just requested some outlandish price or demand, flip the script and ask if they’d take the deal they just suggested. I like to call this technique the “cookie test,” which I use with little kids. If Johnny breaks the cookie, then Cindy gets to pick which part she wants. Johnny won’t be unfair dividing the cookie if he doesn’t get to pick which part he gets.
- Ask for clarifications
When I ask for changes in the contract, I propose them in the form of a clarification that “has an idea” for how to make the contract better. This approach creates language and intent that is mutually agreeable and open. Other tactics are blunter and may come across as defensive, which works to close off negotiators from opening up to your ideas for how to make the contract beneficial to both parties.
- Leave nothing to chance
Enter a negotiation with your priorities clearly stated and ranked, and leave nothing to chance. Know what issues you absolutely must have, and know which ones you’d be willing to concede. Also be conscious of the point at which you would walk away. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of, but don’t be so stubborn that you talk yourself out of a potentially beneficial relationship. —