- Know why you are negotiating. What do you hope to gain? What do you stand to lose? What is most important for you, and what are you willing to give up? The answers to these questions can help you determine whether it's worth your while to continue negotiating, or whether you should be negotiating at all.
- Do your research. Before negotiating anything, make sure you have plenty of well-sourced, concrete information -- and have it readily available. "You need to be confident that your goals are realistic," Deborah Kolb, Judith Williams and Carol Frohlinger point out at Excelle. "The more you know about an industry, a company, a position -- the salary it should command and the skills profile it requires -- the easier it is to develop a convincing case and one that you will feel comfortable defending."
- Practice what you want to say. Sure you could probably wing it, but that's likely to make you look unprofessional -- and you might forget the details of what you want to say. How you present your case is as important as what you want to achieve from the negotiations. Practicing your pitch also helps you to anticipate issues that may come up later in the discussion and prepare for them in advance.
- Show how your work or product is unique. Try to create the impression that no one else can do (or provide) what you can. If your product isn't unique, remember that you still are; build a relationship with your potential client so reassure them that they'd receive better services or products from you than they would anywhere else.
- Don't negotiate before it's clear that there's an agreement to do business. Make sure there's some sort of commitment from the other party, even if only in principle; otherwise, you may be forced to make concessions later. Not sure that you're on the same page with the other party? Ask: "Will you be willing to go ahead with the deal if we can hammer out some of the details now?"
- Avoid negotiating if you can't walk away. "Whether you are buying or selling, if you can't walk away because you need the deal so badly or because the other side is the only game in town, then you are at a serious disadvantage," points out the experts at Businessballs.com. "The more you need to secure the deal, the weaker your position, so avoid negotiating when you need the business badly."
- Let the other party go first, is possible. Your position will be stronger if the other person makes the first move. Think about it: If you were willing to offer $500, but they start negotiations at $750, you would earn $250 less just by making the first move.
- Aim high. The only way you have a shot at your best possible outcome is if you put it on the table. Most negotiations end up somewhere in the middle, but you'll be closer to your goal if you set the bar high without seeming unreasonable. Be sure to back up your position with concrete facts and verifiable information.
- Understand what the other side requires. Everything, including personal or emotional requirements, has value and can impact your ability to make good on the deal.
- Keep your emotions in check. Remember that this is a business deal, not a personal one. Stay professional, and keep your personal feelings out of the negotiation. If something is unacceptable, explain why and offer an alternative.
- Silence can be powerful. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying; if you're busy thinking about what you're going to say next, you could miss an important detail or point. Pausing for a few seconds before replying can also be a powerful negotiating tactic. "Silence begs a response," writes Bill at How To Negotiate. "When the other person makes a proposal or offer they expect you to respond; to counter or accept. The reaction to your silence is telling. Watch both the body language and verbal response to sense where they are in the negotiation."
- Be smart about concessions. Never give anything away without getting something in return. A lower salary can be accepted in exchange for set parameters about what work you will be required to perform, fewer stock options could be offset by more vacation time, frequent travel could be acceptable in exchange for a more flexible work schedule when you're in the office.
- Take accurate notes. Make sure the other person knows that you are doing it, too. If you're talking in person, have the voice recorder or note pad out in the open; if you're dealing via IM or email, keep all correspondence. It benefits both parties to have an accurate record of what was discussed during the negotiations.
- Summarize as you go. Review the notes periodically during the discussion, to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. If you were offering four units while the other party thought he was getting five units, that needs to be cleared up before the final deal is set.
- Know when they're saying no. If you've ever bought a car, you know the good cop/bad cop scenario. There are certain things people often say in order to avoid actually saying "no," but they mean the same thing: "I'll see what I can do." "I'll let you know." "I have to discuss this with someone who has more authority than I do." "Maybe."
It can be difficult to negotiate with your boss or client. Research shows that women in particular are good at negotiating for others but not as good at negotiating for themselves. Here are 15 tips to help you negotiate, whether you're trying to get the best price for a product or trying to get a better salary for yourself. And remember: If you don't ask, then the answer will always be no.