7 Reasons Why 'Just Ask' Is the Best Negotiation Tactic

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Have you ever noticed that some people always seem to get what they want, regardless of the situation? They get their dream girl to go out with them, they get the car dealer to sell them a vehicle at a rock-bottom price or they close yet another business deal.

They don’t have special powers -- they simply ask for what they want, and most of the time, when done correctly, it results in them receiving exactly what they want. The truth is, most people are too nervous to ask.

To date, my company, as an Internet business broker has successfully completed an industry-leading 250-plus transactions worth tens of millions of dollars, and effective negotiation plays a tremendous role in what we do. And yes, I got the dream girl, too! 

Related: Master the Concept of Leverage to Get What You Want in Business and Life

There are endless articles, books, research, etc., on negotiation, but in my experience, they all tend to overcomplicate it. Successful negotiation is not hard if you are consistent in your approach. Here are seven reasons why "Just Ask" is my number-one rule of negotiation.

1. It allows you to get a firm yes or no.

By asking direct questions, you can quickly find out how interested someone is regarding the outcome of the negotiation. Are they eager to buy or sell? Are they willing to move on terms? The sooner you can determine interest level, the faster you can reach the final stretch of the negotiation process. Cut out the “maybe,” and get a yes or a no early in the process. No one wants their time wasted if neither party is being direct. 

2. It allows you to provide information.

Often, you have to present information that will help the other person in the negotiation understand the reality of a situation. At my company, we often receive inquiries from potential sellers that believe they have a gold mine when in reality their website isn’t worth nearly what they assume.

“Did you know that [website name], a site very similar to yours, in terms of revenue and traffic, just sold for $20,000?” -- asking a question like this allows me to educate the individual and provide them information that will set the tone for the rest of the negotiation process.  

3. It allows you to get the negotiation back on track.

If the negotiation begins to get off track, you can ask questions to pull the other party back in. Asking personal questions can help you adjust your strategy mid negotiation by learning what makes the other person tick.

For example, if I was discussing the sale of a sports blog with a potential buyer and I could sense the conversation was drifting off course, I could ask a simple question such as, “So, what is currently holding you back from the sale?” This immediately gets the person back into the conversation and I can then use that information during the rest of the negotiation process.

4. It allows you to start building a personal connection.

During a negotiation process there are often two sides that have never met nor spoken before. When both sides feel comfortable communicating back and forth it will make the process much smoother. Questions that ask for the other individual’s opinion and desired outcomes shows that you are genuinely interested in them -- and not just your own agenda. The best deals are a win-win for both parties.

Related: 7 Ways to Be a Better Negotiator

5. It allows you to gather missing information.

No matter how prepared you think you are going into a negotiation, you aren’t going to have 100 percent of the necessary information. Asking honest questions allows you to fill in the gaps and gain additional information required to put yourself in the best possible position -- you never want to assume anything. If you aren’t sure of something, just ask. 

Even the best business people have knowledge gaps -- there’s no shame in asking nor is successful negotiation all about knowing everything all of the time. You are only human. 

6. It allows you to get the other person involved in the discussion.

Asking questions force the other party to engage in a discussion. Silence is a deal killer -- if both sides aren’t speaking back and forth openly the negotiations come to a stop. The more involved they are in the discussion, the more you can learn about them.

The more you get them to talk, the easier it will be to identify when they aren’t on board with the direction the negotiations are taking. The tone of their voice will often change when they aren’t happy with the direction the negotiation is heading, and adjust accordingly.

7. It allows you to come to a firm agreement.

The end of a negotiation process involves seeing just how far both sides are apart from reaching an agreement. You are never going to know just how far apart both sides are unless you ask.

Imagine if you are negotiating the purchase price of a new car with the sales manager of the dealership. If the sticker price is $62,000, a simple “Are you willing to take $57,000?” is going to help you reach an agreement. You will either get your offer accepted or receive a counter. Either way, the end goal of an agreement is closer because of the direct question.

While asking questions is important, asking them the right way allows you to gather the information needed to come out victorious in a negotiation.

Do you have any additional negotiation tips to share? If so, please leave them in the comment section below.

Related: Be Calm, Flexible and Speak Up in a Negotiation, and Everyone Can Win