Four Ways to Negotiate the Deal You Want
To succeed, founders must find common ground with customers, staff, investors or strategic partners
We do deals every day. Some deals are simple; others, like joining two companies, raising capital or buying another business, may require months or years of negotiations. At its core, negotiating is about reaching an agreement by finding common goals and objectives.
For many people, negotiation is incredibly difficult. It feels confrontational and uncomfortable. This means people avoid negotiations or take a hostile or aggressive approach.
Where success lies
For founders, avoiding a negotiation is like trying not to breathe. To succeed, they must work with and find common ground with their customers, staff, investors or strategic partners. Every day they must negotiate with different parameters and avoiding will simply thwart progress.
Contrary to popular belief, negotiations don’t have to be confrontational. To get a deal done, the two sides must find similarities to establish mutually acceptable terms. If there’s no overlap, there will simply be no transaction.
Here are four ways to negotiate the deal you want.
Put yourself in their shoes
When you’re negotiating, you can’t just think from your own perspective. You already know what’s in your own mind, so that’s the easy part. The hard part is getting to the mind and heart of what other people are thinking, and why. To figure that out, you need to ask the right questions, listen and assess. What’s their body language? What are they focused on? What have they asked you? Take a look at the verbal and non-verbal cues to determine what really matters to them.
Something for you, something for me
Use your insight into the other side’s position to assess the field of play. If you can identify points that are less critical for you but valued more by the other side, you can make concessions in a way that still results in a win-win. The critical goal here is realizing that every point is not equally valuable—and establishing which are most important will allow you to prioritize both your needs and theirs.
When the goal is for two parties to come together and agree to a way forward, it’s not about winning and losing. One of my mentors used to say that if you both feel like you gave a little too much the deal is probably balanced appropriately.
Don’t give ultimatums
There’s no better way to get someone to resent you than by giving ultimatums. They never work in relationships and they certainly don’t in business. When ultimatums are issued, the process gets unnecessarily emotional, people’s positions become more entrenched and they listen less. All of this only adds fuel to the fire. Negotiations are about dialogue, not moving people by force. Everyone has their sticking points and it’s important to make those clear from the beginning. But brute force will rarely allow a positive relationship moving forward.
The deal is only the start
Many negotiations are about building an ongoing relationship or determining where the parties have options that will allow them to easily walk away. The real value will typically ensue after the deal is struck and when the focus shifts on making it work. Since the value isn’t necessarily in the negotiation process, it’s important to think about long-term goals while negotiating in the short-term.
Negotiating can be intimidating, but with the right approach, founders can begin to successfully navigate the process and make the deal they want.