13 Platinum Negotiating Ideas
Life is a continuous
From an early age kids "learn" to negotiate. They play mom
against dad. Or the babysitter. Brother against sister. Friend vs. friend.
Kids negotiate how much television to watch, washing the dishes, mowing
the grass, their allowance for the week, cleaning their room, attending
a concert or amusement park or a day at the water slide.
Ditto in school. A homework assignment due date. A pre-game workout in
the gym. The brown bag lunch mom sent vs. the cafeteria offering. Their
locker location. The physics teacher in their senior year. And always
"Real" life is an ongoing, moving and some would say never
This carries over into the workplace. What time you show up for work.
When a specific assignment is to be finished. Time off. Your work station
location - sometimes your work mates. Certainly the tools you work with.
Negotiation is a major part of every sales situation. And frequently
what selection of advertising, marketing, PR, merchandising and sales
promotion you elect to support sales.
Let's look at 13 Platinum Negotiating Ideas you
can use in marketing and sales. Ideas to gain you more of what you feel
you need to be successful.
1. Do your homework before hand
It is almost impossible to know too much. There is no such thing as too
Yes, there are experts. And one or more of them may be helpful to you.
Helpful in "pouring" the right information into you. Yet, information
alone will never insure a successful negotiation. Knowing what that info
means and what part of it is most important to those you're negotiating
with is key. That's the knowledge part.
"Digging" through sources is an enlightening process. A helper
or assistant may make your search shorter and more thorough. Still, part
of what I've learned is you need to dig yourself. To find what you find.
To learn what you learn. It is truly amazing what "pops" when
And it is all part of being ready - at least as ready as the other guy
- hopefully more so. Example: the day I'm writing this I'm preparing for
a new negotiation - a new piece of business.
The lead came from a business friend who is already working with these
folks. I asked him to share all he knew. He did.
Next I talked with the Founder and now CEO of the company - 3 different
phone chats. That helped - as I asked "what makes your product and
service from the competition?". He responded with a laundry list.
He was ready for the question - and I learned.
I then asked what he could send me to read or learn from. He offered
his marketing plan for the next year. Of course, I dove into his web site
to see what they had online.
That is, I did my homework. Do your homework.
2. Information is POWER - know the people involved
Well, information is NOT power ... unless you use it. And that's why
knowing the people you are negotiating with is so, so important.
In a pure 1:1 sales situation that is usually not difficult: you ask!
Yep, you get the other guy to talk by asking questions. If you're in her
office you look around - get the lay of the land - and get her talking
about herself. That part is easy.
You look into the book case. The trophy shelf. The pictures on the credenza.
The plaques on the wall. The magazines on the coffee table. The type of
hardware being used. The easy stuff.
The easy stuff for me in the story above was asking my friend what he
knew. For instance, I learned the guy is a scratch golfer. And a few other
tid-bits that will help in conversation and communication.
What is not as easy is when you are in neutral territory. And there are
3-4-5-6 people involved in the interaction. This is tougher.
What I do is ASK what to expect. And I ask ahead of time. Who will be
in the meeting? How can I learn about them and what is important to them?
Where can I go to get ready to do the best job?
Maybe it is corporate literature. A web site. A library book. A social
or economic or even social gathering. A directory. A congress.
Later this week I will be in a negotiation where there could be as many
as 4 people. The leader I know - 2 of the other 3 I have met only once.
The 4th person I've talked to on the phone - got good vibes,
have never met. This isn't much, yet it is something. And because I know
the leader I know how to be prepared.
Know your audience - get to know them before you begin.
3. Know their objectives - their shopping list
The easiest thing to learn is WHY people are talking with you.
They are looking for something. They have a set of goals or objectives,
a direction to march, something to accomplish. Ask and yea shall be rewarded.
It is truly amazing what people will tell you when you ask them what
they are seeking:
"What are you trying to accomplish?"
"Who are you reaching with this message?
"Why should these people listen to you?"
"Is timing critical - what is the timing?"
"What is your offer?"
"Why this marketplace - and why now?"
"To what degree is price important?"
And a host more you can easily create for your specific situation.
Before any negotiation you need to know why the other folks are talking
with you. What are they seeking - where are they focused - what will make
4. Be neutral early
It is easy to have a decision in mind BEFORE you begin. Because you know
where you want to go - where you feel you need to be.
It is fine to think this way ... as long as you "kill" the
thought, push it to the back, bury it as you begin negotiation. When you
go in to any exchange with your plan, your direction, your focus up front,
you are not listening for options available from the other person.
Be neutral early. Meaning have an open mind. There are many routes to
get from where you are to where you need to be. You may prefer some over
others ... fine. Still, the bottom line is getting to the finish line
with a "deal". With an agreement.
In every sporting event there are countless ways to score. Whether it's
a low scoring game like hockey or soccer, or high scoring like basketball
or football - there is more than one way to "win". BINGO: same
in negotiation. There is more than one way to get to the finish line.
Be neutral as you begin each negotiation.
5. LISTEN! And then . . .
The worlds educational systems make large noises about teaching everyone
to read. And to write.
Which is fine. Sadly, these same bodies ignore listening. A skill few
know how to do because teaching listening is not a mainstream activity.
There is a reason we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth: we are suppose to
listen twice as much as we talk. For sales reps this is tough - by "nature"
selling is an outward expression. Which appears to mean talking.
Well, of course, a presentation, a demonstration, some "show &
tell" are all part of negotiation. And this will require talking.
Yet, the party that listens the most is the one that will get the most.
Because by listening you are actually controlling the conversation.
As you are learning what it will take to come to an agreement.
The other guy is telling you just that.
There is "passive" listening - where you hear the words without
interpretation. And "active" listening, where you hear AND you
understand. Obviously, to be successful to the max it takes active listening.
Listening takes concentration, too. And because our minds absorb words
4 times faster than people speak ( average rate of speech is 150 words
a minute - our brains can take in 600 wpm ), concentration is a tough
thing to do. To really listen is work.
So, make an effort to LISTEN! And then . . .
6. Take time to think
An immediate response is NOT needed to every exchange. It is okay to
STOP now and again ... and think.
In fact, it is necessary for you to do just that.
This is also difficult to do. To STOP. To be quiet. To contemplate. To
consider. To evaluate. To begin to think and understand what the message
Silence is a powerful tool. It is almost impossible for a meeting room
to remain perfectly quiet for longer than 8 to 12 SECONDS! On the
telephone anything longer than 7 seconds of silence will "make"
the other side say something.
So, do take time to think what your response should be. In a face-to-face
situation you can push your chair back, stand up, stretch. You can take
a short walk - or a long one. Scratch your head. Look into your brief
case. Change the expression on your face to one that says "I'm thinking".
The rest of the room will wait for you - as they'll "see"
what you are doing. You are in charge - they have no choice but to wait
for you "to return".
Yes, take time to think.
7. "Buy time" ... absorb by writing
If it is not in writing it is not so. It did not happen - it will not
That may or may not be how you think. Yet, that IS how it is the world
of business today. Like it or not, if it is not in writing as a hard copy
I can hold in my hand - it is not so.
So, play upon this "fact". And take notes. Whether you scribble
or are clear and clean it doesn't matter. You might include "graphics"
in the margins. A chart or graph or "list" may be your way of
gathering your thoughts together.
No matter, later your notes will be the most valuable in the negotiation.
Why? Because you first listened. You then took time to think. And next
you wrote your thoughts.
Listening - thinking - writing helps you get ready to close the negotiation.
8. Make your offer ONLY after learning all the options
The first offer is NEVER the only offer. Period!
It really does not matter who says what - until you truly know all
the options, or have exactly what you came to get, you should keep negotiating.
For me it is questioning that helps. I always ask "And what else?"
Sometimes "What more do you have to share?" Or "What should
we talk about next?"
This approach to getting everything on the table insures there will be
no surprises. Surprises in negotiation - a money surprise, a timing surprise,
a people surprise - are usually not good things. They do slow down progress
- they may kill the deal.
You are being unfair to yourself unless you know all the options. And
the best way to know all the options is to ask ... and then listen.
9. Trade - don't give
The word "compromise" has caused more headaches in this world
than you can count.
What "compromise" means is I give up what I want - you give
up what you want and we meet someplace else where neither us want to be.
This is a word I'd like to eliminate.
In it's place is part of the title of this Baker's Dozen Collection -
"Negotiate". What negotiate means is "To
Agree". We will agree, for mutual benefit, to this plan of action.
To these next steps, to this direction. To this goal, accomplishment.
To agree certainly sounds better to me than to meet someplace neither
us want to be.
So, when you are "agreeing", do it for everyone's benefit.
If you are asked to do "X", return the favor by asking for "Y".
i.e., I will do "X" when you do "Y".
Almost always this is a given. Rarely does anyone really expect
something for nothing. If you are asked to do something "extra",
you in return are expected, and should receive, something in return. This
is negotiating - this is agreeing.
Do not give away what you have to offer. Trade it for something you need.
That way you, the seller, and the other party, the buyer, each come out
10. "Constants" are variables
This phrase sounds like any oxymoron. And probably is.
Rarely is a constant really a constant. Yes, the radio or television
news begins at the hour - a constant. EXCEPT when there is breaking news
that starts it earlier. And very likely keeps it going later.
Certain holidays are not very mobile. Christmas Day in the Christian
world is December 25. Except, of course, in Orthodox Churches where the
date is early January. Another constant that isn't.
Sure, some things are truly constant. A trade show opens on this date
and closes on that. If you are not there during that time frame you miss
out. A constant. You could come late, you could leave early ... the show
itself is constant.
In negotiation constants are variables. As soon as some one tells me
"this point is not negotiable", I know it IS negotiable. Or
they would not have made a point of it.
So, as you look at each point within a negotiation, keep your ears and
eyes open for opportunities. Trade a constant for a constant ... trade
a variable for a variable. Or any mix that brings "agreement".
11. Know that "deadlines" are negotiable!
Dates and time are guidelines. Not Biblical.
Man made up time and the clock and calendar to measure time. Today there
are scores of variations of time and dates. All of which means the date,
time, place for things to truly happen or "drop dead", is 100%
It is not that a deadline is a bad thing. Not so. Humans seem to respond
better to specifics. We like things that work "on time". Airline
travel is a perfect example. We like office meetings to start and end
when they are suppose to. We like the restaurant or bank to be open when
they say they will be open.
Still, when you are negotiating know that whatever deadline you begin
with can be changed. And frequently will be. By the other guy - if not
12. Always remember YOUR short & long term objectives
It is easy to forget where you are headed.
The excitement and enthusiasm of negotiation sometimes gets in the way
of the short - or the long - sometimes both! - sets of YOUR objectives.
Do not let that happen.
Every negotiation, no matter how "small" begins with a focus.
A direction. And a reason for happening. Overall in your life events it
may not amount to much. Yet, you are negotiating over it now because now
it is important. At least somewhat.
This is true in the office, on the factory floor, at an organization
meeting, for volunteers, for paid staff, at home, in school - everywhere.
Since this is a fact - you are negotiating because now it is important
- remember where you are going. And why.
Otherwise don't negotiate! Not everything in any life or any business
is worth it. Some things truly do not matter to the people involved. In
my life I have a person who will stop to eat at almost any time, at almost
any place. She just does not care. It's not that she doesn't enjoy eating
... she is totally open on where and when. For her negotiating the next
eating stop isn't worth it - she wants someone else to make that decision.
In my business I have chosen not to care where or when or how about office
and computer supplies. Someone else is in charge of that - and they DO
care. I care what I need is available when I need it - the details of
it are of zero concern or consequence to me. I will not enter into negotiation
Still, when it is important to you, be prepared to defend your stand.
Know your short and long term objectives - always remember why you are
in this negotiation.
13. Look for a good deal for the other guy, too
Unlike sports, where there is a winner and a loser, in negotiation the
best deals are where everyone wins.
By definition negotiate means we have come "to agreement".
It should be more than a signature on a piece of paper, more than a hand
shake, more than a smile for the camera, more than an enthusiastic note
to the boss.
Every successful negotiation should end in a good deal for all involved.
Where all walk away feeling good and knowing the sought results have happened
- and will continue to happen.
When there is a "looser" in negotiation, there will be a problem.
Sooner or later (probably sooner), there will be a problem. Maybe because
the negotiation became a compromise. Maybe because a deadline was unrealistic,
and one side decided not to consider altering it. Maybe because ALL the
options were not considered.
It doesn't really matter why there is an uncomfortable feeling. What
does matter is everyone feels they got a good deal. It does matter the
attitude is "this is good for everyone". It does matter everyone
walk away feeling good for everyone else.
Look for a good deal for the other guy, too - number 13 in the Bakers
Dozen Collection of 13 Platinum Negotiating Ideas.