Drop the bulldozer style of negotiating
While it may make great TV, the aggressive negotiating tactics seen on the likes of The Apprentice or Dragons' Den are old fashioned. We now live in a collaborative world. Working with the other side and focusing on their needs will make them more likely to respond to what you want. Bullying will rarely get you anywhere. If you take advantage of someone in a deal, they never forget it, and no matter how long it takes to get their own back, they will.
Dispel the fantasy of others' bargaining power
SMEs and entrepreneurs often feel that they are at a disadvantage when negotiating with larger players, believing that because the other side is bigger they hold all the aces. But there are many sources of bargaining power, and they are rarely all stacked in favour of one side. For example, while you may be a small company, you could have expertise, contacts, reputation, or information in a particular area which no one else has. Think about what you have they might want and use that to get a realistic handle on the balance of bargaining power between you.
Ask for what you want
Too many SMEs dither internally before the negotiation even starts. Ask for as much as you can reasonably justify at the outset - if you’re bidding for a contract and you think it’s worth £10m, go in at that level. You only need one reason to support it – but you need to be sure about what that is, and it must be a reason the other side understands even if they don't agree with you. But don’t start at £5m instead of £10m just because you are worried that you will upset the other side.
Avoid deadline pressure
This may influence the other side but they may later resent being hustled into the deal and cause you problems. Or it may cause them to call your bluff. If they do, you have to be prepared to walk away even if the deadline wasn’t real, otherwise you will destroy your credibility. Your greatest asset is that the other side believes that you mean what you say. If you make idle threats and get found out, you’ve thrown that asset away.
Find out more about the Close My Deal app - and the art of negotiation.