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Negotiation Skills for Entrepreneurs — How to Craft Deals Like a Pro Here are a few key tips to help you enhance your negotiation skills and win more deals.

By Chris Kille Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • Employing a charm offensive and reverse psychology can establish respect and shift power balances in negotiations.
  • Understanding and utilizing emotional intelligence, anchoring and vulnerability can create rapport and benefit negotiation outcomes.
  • Techniques like creating a time crunch, using silence strategically, and finding common interests can expedite deals and foster stronger partnerships.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Alright, let's get real for a minute. You're here because you want to up your game in business talks, right? Well, you're in luck. I'm about to share some nuggets of wisdom from my own playbook. These aren't your everyday tips; we're going deep into the stuff that has saved my neck more times than I can count.

So, make yourself comfortable, maybe grab a snack, and let's dive into how you can start sealing those deals like a total champ.

Related: 8 Negotiating Tactics Every Successful Entrepreneur Has Mastered

1. The disarming charm offensive

Here's a little trick I swear by: Start your negotiations with a sincere compliment. It's not just pleasantries; it's strategic. Imagine walking into a chess match and positioning your pieces to command respect right off the bat.

I once kicked off a tense negotiation by praising my competitor's innovative approach. It wasn't just flattery — it was a calculated move to establish respect and set a constructive tone. It's about finding that sweet spot where admiration meets strategy.

2. The reverse psychology play

Ever played hard to get? It's not just for dating; it works wonders in business, too. Creating a sense of scarcity can shift the power balance in your favor. Picture this: I casually mentioned to a supplier that I was eyeing their competitor. It was a bluff, but it sparked a sense of urgency, and suddenly, they were sweetening the deal for me. It's a delicate dance of feigned disinterest and strategic positioning.

3. The Sherlock Holmes technique

Negotiation is part detective work. Dive into your counterpart's world — their business moves, their interests and even their social media can be a goldmine of information. This isn't snooping; it's smart sleuthing. For example, discovering a client's commitment to eco-friendly practices allowed me to tailor my pitch to align with their values. It's about personalizing your strategy to hit right where it matters.

4. The emotional barometer

Negotiation isn't just a logical process; it's an emotional journey. Tapping into the other party's feelings can give you an unexpected edge. I recall a deal that seemed dead in the water until I picked up on the other party's stress. A simple acknowledgment of their concerns melted away the tension and paved the way for a fruitful discussion. It's about using empathy strategically to break barriers.

Related: Four Ways to Negotiate the Deal You Want

5. The anchor in the storm

Ever heard of anchoring? It's where the first offer sets the stage for the negotiation. Go in bold. I once asked for 30% more than what I wanted, and guess what? We settled right where I aimed. This isn't about being greedy; it's about understanding human psychology to create a favorable bargaining range.

6. The veiled vulnerability

Now, this might seem counterintuitive, but showing a smidge of vulnerability can be an incredibly astute move in negotiations. It's all about controlled exposure. Take a page from my book: In a critical deal, I subtly mentioned a small limitation in my product. This honest admission did something remarkable — it humanized me in the eyes of my counterpart.

They started seeing me less as an opponent and more as a partner, which led them to open up about their own concerns and priorities. This tactic is a delicate balance — it's about revealing just enough to build rapport without diminishing your position. It's like showing your hand in a card game, but only enough to encourage others to show theirs.

7. The time crunch tactic

Creating a sense of urgency can be a game-changer, and I've seen it work wonders. On one occasion, I informed a client that my offer was only on the table for a short period — let's say a week. This wasn't a bluff, but a strategic move to create a sense of scarcity. The result? The fear of missing out set in, and the deal was wrapped up much faster than I anticipated.

The art here is to strike the right balance. You want to create a sense of urgency without coming off as desperate or pushy. It's about giving them just enough time to make a decision, but not enough to let them dawdle.

8. The silent power play

Silence, believe it or not, can be your strongest ally in a negotiation. After presenting an offer, I often resort to this tactic — I stay quiet. It might feel awkward, a bit like the calm before the storm, but it serves a purpose. This silence, heavy with anticipation, puts the ball squarely in the other party's court. More often than not, it prompts them to reveal their thoughts or make a counteroffer, sometimes divulging more than they intended.

This tactic is not for the faint of heart; it requires confidence and the patience of a saint. But when used correctly, it can yield incredibly insightful revelations about the other party's position.

9. The common ground method

Finding shared interests with your negotiation partner can be a total game-changer. It's about forging a connection that goes beyond the boardroom. For instance, I once discovered that a potential client and I shared a passion for vintage jazz records. This shared interest transformed our meetings from mere negotiations to enjoyable exchanges between enthusiasts.

This approach doesn't mean forcing a personal connection where there isn't one; it's about uncovering real, shared interests that can lay the foundation for a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. It turns a negotiation into a conversation between allies, not adversaries.

So, here's the takeaway: Negotiation? It's not just some stuffy business tactic. It's really an art. You've got to read people, add a little flair, and sometimes, just go with your gut. The tricks I've shared here aren't rigid steps; they're more like moves in a dance. Use them smartly, and you're going to see your negotiation skills jump to a whole new level. Here's to making deals that don't just end a conversation, but start new ones!

Related: Negotiation Basics: 8 Common Questions and Answers

Chris Kille

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder at EO Staff

Chris Kille in Boston, MA, innovates in business efficiency, focusing on Virtual Assistant services and Payment Processing tech. He identifies growth opportunities and streamlines operations to enhance profitability. Chris values networking for success and fosters partnerships for speedy growth.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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