Negotiation really is an art, and can be a challenge to master for even the most astute business professional. And like any art form, it must be refined and crafted. Getting a "good deal" can result in a feeling of euphoria. So, how does one "negotiate" a good deal? It can be difficult, especially if the other party appears to be holding all the cards. Follow these tips to help negotiate a great deal...
Know what you are willing to concede
Decide what your minimums are before you enter the negotiations. Knowing your bottom line, as well as what items are "non-negotiable" will help tremendously. It is important to know this before you enter negotiations, simply because all too often, in the excitement of bartering and negotiating a deal, parties will be tempted to make concessions they had not actually intended make, in an effort to close the deal.
Deal with a decision maker
Whenever possible, don't negotiate with a subordinate -- make sure that the person you are dealing with has the power and authority to approve the deal being negotiated. The last thing you want is to spend time working out an agreement, only to have your momentum come to a screeching halt because someone else in management needs to approve the deal. Start your negotiations at the top, so you can get the deal negotiated and finalized without added delays.
Once a verbal agreement is arrived at, put it in writing immediately. In fact, after each communication, be sure to document (via email or another source) a recap of the discussions, just to make sure that both parties are still in agreement when the ink is dry. Having written details of the agreement can also help in the future if the negotiations break down for some reason.
In the best agreement, both parties will benefit. In other words, both sides need to feel that they've gotten a "good deal". Never enter into negotiations with a goal of trying to "best" the other side, but instead enter with the goal of finding common ground that will benefit all parties involved.
Timeline & expectations
Often when an agreement is made, the actual timeline for implementation is an afterthought. It is important that all negotiating parties have realistic expectations about the deal. The timeline should be part of the initial agreement, so that everyone's expectations are realistic, and the same. Detailing a list of benchmarks, timeline, and a payment schedule (if appropriate) will help ensure that everyone's expectations are manageable.
All good and not-so-good things must eventually come to an end, so be sure to discuss how any agreement will be concluded. Both parties should have an exit strategy, just in case the deal does not work out to their satisfaction.
Know when to simply walk away. Some deals are just not meant to happen. If you can not live with the terms offered, do not sign on the dotted line. Know when to walk away from a deal that doesn't work for you, or that you know you'll regret in the future.
At the end of the day, negotiating is a cleverly crafted game, and you need to know the rules in order to play the hand you are dealt.
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds, and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll audio recording and editing software.© 2010 Sharon Housley
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