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10 Negotiation Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Have

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negotiation skills for entrepreneurs
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We all want to get as much as we can in every deal or transaction. We cannot help considering our self-interests every time we negotiate a deal. This is not selfishness but how we have been created and conditioned by nature. However, to become a great negotiator, you’ll have to put your needs and wants aside and start looking at things objectively. The last thing you want to happen is to blow up the deal just because you couldn’t stop thinking of serving yourself.

Similar to running a business, negotiating is not the easiest thing on the planet. You need to know what you are giving so that you can take what you want. Successful negotiators understand how to strike this balance to build and grow their business. What separates successful negotiators from unsuccessful ones?

Successful negotiators take their time to develop the essential skills that will give them an edge over other negotiators. It takes time and practice to master negotiation skills because every deal will be unique, and you’ll need to use the right approach every time. 

Today, we are going to discuss the top ten negotiation skills that every entrepreneur must have to master this game. Let’s get started:

1. Planning skills

All successful negotiations are the results of planning and preparation. This means that you should do your research properly and know the other party. Knowing the nature of their business and talking to others who have worked closely with them will help you know their strengths and weaknesses.

You can’t offer something to people who you don’t know. After doing your research and knowing the parties involved, you should get adequate rest and show up for the meeting on time. When you do this, you’ll be confident and happy and they will respond in a great way.

2. Understand the opening offer

In most cases, the opening offer anchors the negotiations. It’s the place which holds most of the important details. Therefore, you need to look at it carefully. Some of the elements of an offer include the work being proposed, the goods or services to be used, time of delivery, warranties, incentives, terms and conditions and most importantly, the price.

If you are the person who is going to initiate the opening offer, you’ll have the opportunity to set the stage for negotiations. Keep in mind that the other party doesn’t know what you want. Therefore, you need to be bold and state what you want clearly. If you are on the other side, you should be analyzing how close you are to the proposed offer.

Also, have a clear bottom line. What will you accept? Look at the details closely and understand what you are signing up for.

3. Emotional control

While you should be confident because you’ve done adequate research, you should leave your ego at home. Lack of emotional control is one of the best ways to fail terribly. When negotiating, you should be as neutral as you can. When you control your thoughts and emotions, you’ll be able to think clearly and objectively during tough times and make informed decisions.

Similar to other aspects of life, you have to think clearly when negotiations become stressful. Instead of being rigid, you should be willing to find a common ground. By doing this, you’ll strike a balance between not giving much away and getting what you want. Leaving your ego at home will put your emotions in check help you figure out the way forward.

“The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts. And there was a considerable challenge to that here and understandably so.” – Howard Baker

4. Play the game well

Before entering into high-stakes negotiations, it’s important to run through all the possible scenarios with a loved one or colleague. You’ll end up feeling less anxious and you’ll discover several objections to the offer that you had not considered or discover a side of the deal that could benefit you and the other party.

If you don’t have someone to help you out, you should play all the scenarios in your mind. This will help you feel less attached to your expectations. Yes, it’s important to care, but don’t care too much as this may result in a lack of emotional control in case you fail to get what you wanted. Remember, stay neutral and keep your emotions in check. Keep practicing regularly and you’ll master this skill.

5. Strategic thinking

To begin negotiations successfully, you need to think strategically and exercise self-awareness. You need to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses but also the other party’s strong points and weaknesses. Doing this will help you avoid being exploited.

If your company is an infant, how big can it grow in five to ten years? Will you have the ability to respond to your customers needs? What can you offer that the other party can’t? What can the other side offer that you can’t? Knowing clearly where you stand will help you make informed decisions.

6. Be ready to walk away

When you get into a negotiation with the mindset that you can walk away if things don’t happen as you envisioned, you’ll be in a position of power. That’s why it’s important to stay neutral the entire time. You can’t be bullied if you can get up and leave.

When you tell yourself that this deal is everything to you, you’ll find it difficult to control your emotions. And this will weaken your position. Your success or failure in negotiating will be determined by your mindset.

Remember, you are going to hold hundreds of negotiations. If one doesn’t go through, you are keeping your space open to get better opportunities in the future. Don’t force a deal that doesn’t sit right with you. Listen to your intuition. It’s the best and most accurate guide you have. You can never ignore your intuition and succeed.

“To win a negotiation you have to show you’re willing to walk away. And the best way to show you’re willing to walk away is to walk away.” – Michael Weston

7. Ask good questions

You can gain useful information by simply asking good questions. All successful negotiators ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask because no one knows everything. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. However, you need to formulate your questions properly to hit the jackpot.

Avoid asking yes or no questions because they won’t help you get crucial information. Instead of asking, “It’s a great idea, right?”, you can ask, “Can you share the challenges you’ve been facing this year?”

8. Listen attentively

We all like to hear the sound of voices and have someone listen to us without interrupting. All successful negotiators are effective listeners. They don’t think of what they are going to say next when the other party is talking.

They listen to the arguments presented carefully and then paraphrase what they heard to ensure they’ve understood each other. You cannot acquire valuable information if you dominate the conversation most of the time.

9. Prepare and present several offers simultaneously

Instead of making only one offer, consider presenting more than two offers at once. If the other party rejects all offers, ask him or her to tell you which one he liked most and why. Then go to work and improve that offer. 

You can also brainstorm with the other party to reach a conclusion that pleases both of you. This strategy not only reduces the odds of a failed negotiation but also promotes creative solutions.

10. Respect culture

Most of the things we do in the US are unacceptable in other cultures across the world. The other party might avoid associating with you because of your behavior. Therefore, it’s important to know who you are negotiating with and their cultural background. People like the Chinese, Japanese and Indians respect their culture because it controls all aspects of their lives. Learn how to greet the elderly, serve your food and when to start speaking to name a few.

Always negotiate with the person in charge of making decisions to avoid wasting time. Also, keep your conversation light and funny to avoid destroying your reputation. When you master these ten essential skills, you’ll be one of the best negotiators in the world.

What do you think is one of the most important skills to becoming a great negotiator? Share your thoughts with us below!

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