You’ve set the stage. Prepared exhaustively. Written down every possible issue the other party can bring up. You’ve rehearsed and researched beyond what it takes to succeed. Now it’s showtime. So what’s the very first thing you do when you sit down to negotiate?
That’s right, you just listen. You listen without any sign or intention of interrupting. You listen with respect; you listen without fidgeting; and you maintain a poker face. Be mindful of what Steven Covey has to say on the subject: “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
If the other party stumbles and struggles to find the words to express what he or she means, don’t do what comes natural in everyday casual conversation. Do not fill in the spaces.
By listening intently, you not only get valuable information — you gain access to the other party’s mind and heart. You find out what he or she wants. You’ll find out what will move them to “yes.”
Also, if you listen and don’t react, you just might send out the signal that you’re not impressed. Such a signal can only work in your favor. Mind you, you’re not showing disrespect by being silent. You’re simply using silence to your advantage.
Set the Bar High
Negotiate with strength and optimism. Don’t offer a price range; to do so is a sign of weakness. If you’re a seller and you say “we were thinking of a price between $1 million and $1.5 million,” do you honestly think the other party will opt for the $1.5 million price tag when you left the possibility of $1 million on the table? On the other hand, if you’re a buyer and you set that same range, think how weak your $1 million offer will sound if you left the possibility of $1.5 million dangling in the other party’s face.
Make Reciprocity Your Golden Rule
If you find that you have to give up something, ask for something in return. Or if you feel that the other party has trouble giving up something, offer her something of value in addition to your price. All sorts of deals can be made — your imagination is your only limit. Frequently the buyer of a business, for example, will stipulate that the seller remain in the business as a Vice President or consultant for a specified number of years after the deal is struck.
And Finally… Don’t Be Afraid to Say “I Need to Think About It”
Nobody thinks you’re omniscient. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying something like “this sounds good, but I want to give it some more thought.” You never know — the other party might come up with a better price or something of additional value in the interim.
Make sure though, if you do request time to decide, that you offer a specific follow-up date for when you’ll have a definite decision. Otherwise, you’ll give the impression of weakness and uncertainty.
And don’t be afraid to fail. The very best dealmakers fail many times before landing one great deal.