The art of negotiation is a life skill that everyone needs to learn if we all wish to get what we want and maintain good relationships. There is a ton of proven negotiation tactics, especially in business. This piece will point out a few as shared by some entrepreneurs.
While most people assume negotiation only happens in business, we negotiate daily with colleagues, friends, bus conductors, bosses, etc. It is also a way of life.
Commonly, people make decisions according to their self-interest before even considering others around.
According to Tobenna Nnabeze, a financial expert, negotiation is a way of appealing to people’s self-interest to get what you want. And to have your way, you need to apply the right negotiation tactics.
Nnabeze believes that it involves reaching an agreement or making a compromise to avoid dispute.
As a form of exercise, assess your activities and life in the last one week or think back on the events of a recent day. Did you negotiate? Did you win? Did you give in to the other person’s interest?
Eromose Moses, a risk manager in one of Nigeria’s commercial banks, says some of the many negotiations we make daily are somewhat trivial and may not deserve care and conscious thought.
“People think they are just talking or just reading each other’s body language. Those are some of the elements of negotiation,” Moses said
“Many a time they think they are disagreeing, or making an offer, or trying to close a deal, or making a sale, or buying something, or fighting their way through Lagos traffic or the rush to buy fuel.
“People use a lot of different terms to describe these things they do because they rarely recognise that they are engaged in negotiations.”
Having established that we all do negotiate daily but mostly in an uncategorised manner, here are 10 negotiation tactics that successful entrepreneurs shared with Business Elite Africa that have helped their businesses.
Sharing the bigger picture
Having successfully run a tourism and lifestyle outfit in Enugu that has spread to other states and countries over the years, Joshua Agusiobo, CEO and founder of Hikerstrail, shared some points that have helped him survive in business.
One of Agusiobo’s negotiation tactics is painting a desirable future. He says when it comes to negotiating business, he usually likes to share what each party has to gain in the long run.
“The bigger picture emphasises long-term partnerships and goals. This has helped me, especially when trying to get business partners like location managers. I do try to share what they stand to gain if they work with us, not now but in subsequent months or events to come.” he said
“This is one secret weapon that is often overlooked. We listen to our customers, business partners, and even staff. Listening helps you to see things from people’s perspectives, especially while negotiating.” Agusiobo said
“It helps you to follow people through their journey and see where their concerns and fears lie. A better perspective and persuasion is built when we listen to know exactly what they want and how to tailor our offer to meet theirs.”
Boldly asking for what you want
“I believe so much that communication is the most important tool every negotiator needs. Here, I try to effectively and in simple terms ask for what I need. A “closed mouth is a closed destiny”, “Ask and you shall receive, these are scriptural,” Agusiobo said.
“When negotiating, I don’t approach the table with a defeated mindset. I come with so much courage and confidence that I have an offer that you won’t refuse and even if you do, we will always find a middle ground. But I have to put my ideas out there on the table.”
Take it or leave it approach
Joshua Nwaokolo, CEO and founder of SX media, an Animation Network and a Professional Writing Agency in Nigeria, noted that his organisation has successfully used the “Take it or leave it approach” in the past years.
Explaining how this approach works, Nwaokolo said: “Usually, prospective clients contact us through recommendations or targeted ads. Since our services are custom made, we request the details of the project, then send a custom quote to the client.”
“In the quote, we list the high profile clients we have worked with. To boost the confidence of the clients in us. We never try to reduce prices unless it’s a repeat client. If the client says the price is too high, we ask for his budget.
“Then, with his budget, we prepare another quote but this time we reduce the deliverables. Most times, the client wants all the deliverables that we sent in the original quote. So he ups his budget.
“If we see that the client is ready to begin the project immediately, we can offer a small discount (like 5-10%) so he is encouraged that we have tried for him. After this, we just tell him to take it or leave it,” he told Business Elites Africa.
Do Your Research
According to Intuit, a global financial technology platform that’s powering prosperity with TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp, research is an essential element that has helped the brand.
“Before walking into any type of negotiation, it’s always helpful to do your research. It gives you an added advantage to make an informed decision,” the company said.
Compromise to win
In some negotiations, compromise is not a bad idea because sometimes, you have to compromise to win. Your ability to know when to activate this at the negotiation table makes all the difference.
Be self-aware of your worth
On many fronts, self-awareness helps filter what you can accept and the things you can’t. It is always advisable to know your worth before going to the negotiation table.
Leverage the Competition
For Jennifer Umeh, CEO of Blinky Collections, a professional T-shirt printing and branding agency in Nigeria, leveraging competition is an important tactic.
“When contemplating a purchase of our materials, we carry out due diligence and compare prices across competitors to find what’s reasonable for our budget,” she said.
“Prices aren’t always the only factor when it comes to a good deal though, and you may find that a preferred store or service charges more especially in this our present economy, but leveraging your knowledge about competing vendors and ask whether they would be willing to match a competitor’s price for the same product or service usually help us in our business.”
Be sure of what to say
Having clarity of what to say is another point Umeh shared with Business Elite Africa. According to her, if you’re nervous about what to say in a negotiation, it undermines your confidence, and you might accept a deal that’s not worth it.
Communicate with your body
Communication is not always about what you say but how you also say them. Be conscious of how you communicate, as it helps to boost the confidence your client has in you.
Most entrepreneurs who spoke to Business Elite Africa stressed that the first thing your “opponent” sees at the negotiation table is your body language and how you communicate with them.