In Donald Trump’s book, “The Way to the Top,” Adam M. Aron, who is Chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, Inc., is quoted as saying: “As much as possible, deal only with good and honorable people. If you deal with good people, you won’t need a contract, and if you are dealing with bad people, no contact can protect you.”
What Mr. Aron is saying here is that no amount of negotiation skills will help you if you’re dealing with an unsavory individual. In that case if your gut is telling you to “walk away,” then you better well do it—listen to your muse!
Thankfully, however, that is the exception rather than the rule. In most situations we find ourselves dealing with good people that share the same basic fears and insecurities as we do, and that want nothing more than to hammer out a deal that is fair to all parties.
That’s all well and good, but even between the most well-intentioned negotiators there is going to be jostling for the “upper hand.” That’s just an accepted part of doing business. Here are some tips for gaining the upper hand in your negotiations from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan:
Negotiating Fees — Unless you left yourself some leeway in your negotiations (i.e. you started high so that you can negotiate down), stick to your guns on fees. Remember, you deserve to be compensated not only for the actual work, but the months and years you’ve put into learning and practicing your craft. That time spent has value!
Your client needs to know that you’re holding the “winning hand.” To put it another way, the client needs to be convinced that you have the power, through your talents, to bring about positive results for him through bigger donations, increased revenues, more online conversions, or whatever it may be. Some ways to attain that are:
Never show weakness — Before going into negotiations determine your own “Unique Value Proposition” and present yourself as being confident in your abilities. Don’t be the first one to blink!
Show the client your skills/talent — Be ready to present similar projects you’ve done that have attained the results the client was looking for. If you don’t have any similar projects show existing examples of other documents and/or projects that mirror the direction you’d like to take.
Sell value, not services — Reminds me of the old sales aphorism, “”Sell the sizzle not the steak.” Remember, someone that buys a light bulb doesn’t want the bulb; she wants the light it provides. A guy doesn’t want a drill; he wants a hole through something. Keep your negotiations focused on the results your services will provide.
Listen/look for clues to your client’s real objections — Is it price? Is it lead-time? Is it the prospect of losing his #1 customer? Read between the lines and get a handle on what your client is not saying for a look at what’s really important to him.
Be ready to walk away — Never easy, but sometimes necessary. If you’ve done all you can to bring the deal to conclusion and your client is still asking for more, it’s time to walk away. Sometimes your client will acquiesce, having tested you to see how far he could push. Or if he doesn’t call you back to the table, take solace in the fact that you can move onto another project where you won’t be simply trading time for dollars.
Stick to your guns on fees — I mentioned this above, but it’s so important that it’s worth mentioning again. First of all, you’re worth it. You’ve put in the time, you’ve put in the effort, and you’ve got the expertise. So why shouldn’t you get what you deserve? Second, what if you want $100 for a particular project and the client gets you to do it for $85? When that client refers you to others, what’s the first thing he or she is going to say? … “He wanted $100, but I got him down to $85…”
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @micarnegie.
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