Your route to the top: Smart negotiation

Talk to the big cheeses. Negotiations are pointless without the right people present. Find out who holds the real power and make sure they (or their best alternatives) are at the table.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Listen up. Small talk reveals big issues. As you settle, ask questions to gather facts about their business, motivations and challenges. Your client's throwaway 'business is booming, despite the climate' could be useful when discussing price.

Grow the pie. Present your ideas as a starting point to improve on together, not something you have to defend. Find opportunities for mutual gain to seal the relationship.

Dig deep. Explore both parties' interests in detail. You decide it's time to overhaul your direct marketing system, they show you that your real needs are more reliable contact information and to save time and money by cleaning up your database.

Show your human side. Mention a hobby, reveal a concern, make a joke. Rapport and trust oil the wheels of negotiation.

Use your negotiables. First, concede things that are of high perceived value to the other party but low value to you. Hold back on what you plan to offer, otherwise your concession is made. Instead, frame the concession as: 'if you ... then I will ... '

Show them your options. Build up your best alternative to the negotiation and play this back to the other party. Ask your L&D supplier what they would do if they could get the same leadership training elsewhere for half the price.

Keep schtum. The first to break the silence is usually the first to concede.

Resist deal fever. In a recent survey by Bain & Co, only 30% of international execs with M&A roles were satisfied with the rigour of their deals. A third admitted they hadn't walked away from deals they had doubts about. Don't let the thrill of closing cloud your judgment. Think: what is the deal really worth?

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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