To Buy, or Not to Buy? The Skills of Negotiating

Negotiation is used in all walks of life from getting a good deal on your new car, threatening to leave your current TV provider if they don’t offer you a cheaper package and sometimes in my case where we are going out for dinner on a Saturday evening. It’s not just used in business and the theory behind negotiation is the same, it’s a give and take process between two or more parties (it would be pretty pointless negotiating with yourself) where compromise is made, and a mutual agreement is reached. A good negotiator doesn’t want to leave the other party feeling defeated as this could result in them being reluctant to do any further negotiations in the future, achieving a win / win agreement helps build and maintain a healthy business relationship going forward.

negotiating skills

Negotiation from a buyer’s position is not always about getting the best possible price, although it often seems that way and more commonly than not it is the most important factor.  We are looking at other variables on terms such as lead time, availability, rebates, payment terms, marketing materials, support offered and of course the quality of the product and service. When entering a negotiation it is key to know what you are hoping to leave the negotiation with. The best way I find to do this is to analyse what you would like, what you would accept and what your ‘walk away point’ is. When you know these, you can prioritise them to decide which variables you a prepared to compromise on to achieve the best outcome for you and your business.

Preparation is key when entering a negotiation.  You would not run a marathon for the first time without being prepared, so why would you enter a negotiation without knowing your facts. It is extremely beneficial to know your limits and expectations along with estimating the other party’s limits and expectations. Not only are you aware of what you are talking about and showing you have knowledge and strength in the subject matter, but it can give you the upper hand to lead the discussion. This limits the risk of being sucked into some of the typical sales techniques that are often used in negotiations.

At times people can be reluctant to go into a negotiation as the fear of face to face confrontation and a conflict in opinions can seem all too much.  Here are a few basic tips to help get you prepared:

Often you can gain knowledge on the other parties position before the actual negotiation has begun, for example if a supplier says they are pitching you a new product then you can be sure that they are targeted to sell these products and get them out on the market, by obtaining this information earlier on negotiators can be more confident in their position and with their proposal.

As mentioned earlier ‘Preparation is Key’ and knowing what you want against what you are willing to compromise saves you from being caught out on any unwanted surprises.

Being a strong and assertive negotiator includes being prepared to walk away. Although it’s nice to leave the process with some form of deal you need to ensure that you are not devaluing your terms.

If you only have one option then you have no bargaining power, having alternatives puts you in the stronger position and doesn’t leave you dependant on that single variable, this gives you the option to say, ‘What if?’ Or ‘How about?’  and in some situations, ‘No Deal’.

I’ve gone through a few key tips that should help you enhance your negotiation skills. To ensure all your hard work pays off always try and conclude your negotiation making sure both parties are at an agreement on all terms discussed - the last thing you want to do is to leave the negotiation under one impression of terms only to later discover the other party had a different understanding. 

There are many tips and tricks used by both sellers and buyers in a negotiation and all parties want what’s best for their business. Try to keep an open mind approaching a negotiation, understanding that anything is possible, and the counter proposal may not always be what you were hoping for. Be strong and know your requirements.

Just remember, you’re always negotiating!

Elizabeth Green
Lamberts (Norwich) Ltd