30 Rock is one of my favourite TV comedies, and Jack Donaghy is one of my favourite characters. Tina Fey has compared the dynamic of his mentor/boss relationship to Liz Lemon to be like the one between Lou Grant and Mary Tyler Moore. Watching 30 Rock is a great way to learn from Jack, the way the Liz Lemon character does.
If there is one thing we know about Jacky D, is that he is good at business…
Introduction to Negotiating
Negotiating is an important skill to learn – whether you’re negotiating your rate as a designer, or looking for an adjustment in your salary – there are always some key things to know before going into a negotiation. Here are 10 powerful tactics that will improve your negotiation skills.
1. The Power is in the Alternative
Marble lobbies of fancy banks, Rolex watches, tailored suits and designer handbags – these things are designed to make a person look and feel powerful. However, this is an illusion… a parlour trick. Having a designer bag and a nice watch is not going to make you powerful in a negotiation.
In any negotiation, the power belongs to the person with the best alternative.
When you go into a negotiation, the person who has the power is the person who can walk away with the best alternative.
When you’re applying for a bank loan – the bank has the power, because they can say ‘no’ knowing you may not have an alternative. If you are negotiating a job offer and you have a competing offer from another company – you have the power.
The most effective thing you can do in preparing for a negotiation is to have an alternative. When you have a good alternative, you have leverage over the opponent.
2. Know Your Point of Resistance
When you enter a negotiation – apart from (hopefully) having a good alternative – is to know 2 things:
– your anchoring point
– your point of resistance
The anchoring point will be your first offer, and it will be negotiated by the other party. The trick here is to have something that is factual, but will work in your favour. If you go in with an exaggerated anchoring point – a trick known as the “Turkish Bazaar” – it might look inexperienced or insincere. Your anchoring point should be backed up with data – and it is something you would need to invent during the research ahead of the negotiation.
Your ‘Point of Resistance’ is the point at which you will need to decline. It could be the point at which this deal will not be profitable, or the timelines will not be possible. You need to know – before going in – at what point things are just not going to be worth your time.
3. Money Is Not The Only Factor
As well as knowing your Anchor and Resistance points, you need to realise that money is not the only factor in a negotiation. When you feel you have exhausted your opponent on a particular area and they are not moving, look for other areas to negotiate on. This might be items that you can get for free that they might not need anymore.
If you’re buying a car, could they throw in winter tyres or some other vehicle accessories. Be creative and think of the external factors that might help close the deal.
4. Practice Your Battle Stance
When you’re going into battle, you need to look the part.
When I took negotiation training – I received some very unexpected feedback from my peers: that my feet were making me look nervous and giving the game away.
Ok so I’m less than average height, and most of the time when I’m sitting on a chair made for average sized adults, my feet don’t touch the ground. Often, my feet will lean against the leg of the chair, or I’ll arrange them in some bizarre fashion without even thinking about it. I’ve done it since I was a kid, and I didn’t think it was a big deal.
Feet should be flat on the ground. If you need to cross your legs, cross them at the ankles. Not to get all ‘finishing school’ on everyone, but Kate Middleton and Jackie O know what’s up. When your feet are flat on the ground, your back will naturally straighten, your shoulders will line up and you will have an elegant but relaxed posture. When you sit facing your opponent straight on, with your back straight and your shoulders level, the way you speak will even change. You will sound more confident without seeming aggressive or hostile. You will give the illusion of being steady and in control.
You’re not a farmer, it’s time to stop sitting like one. Feet firmly on the floor, shoulders square facing the person you are talking to, back straight and, if there is a table, hands on the table. Make eye contact, relax, occasionally sit back (but don’t slouch).
As far as clothing goes, pick something comfortable but appropriate for the occasion. As I said earlier, the power belongs to the person who has the best alternative, so there’s no call for a fancy suit if it would be out of place. Know what you’re going to wear ahead of time, make sure it’s ready to go the night before.
5. Your Weapons
In the negotiation, a person who is rummaging through their bag, through files, scrolling on their phones for emails or info looking for a vital information will look sloppy and unprepared. For this reason, it is best that you have 2 pages in front of you:
1. A single piece of paper that has your important information on it – all of the relevant numbers, dates, rates, quantities, contact details and product information.
2. A blank piece of paper for your notes.
end of list.
6. Never Change Price Without a Reason
If you are negotiating a price, never change the price for no reason. You always need a reason to change price. If you change the price without a reason, it will make your pricing strategy look weak and unconsidered. Making a concession is when you lower your price, but if you lower it too soon, or lower it too much, it weakens your stance.
So, as an example:
“These suitcases are €40 each…”
“That’s a bit much, is there any flexibility here?”
“I would have to check with my manager, but if you were willing to place a large order, we may be able to adjust the cost of those…”
Word of warning:
The whole “I would need to check my boss / I’ll have to ask my manager” excuse will buy you time, but you can only get away with this once in a negotiation.
If you use this multiple times, the other person will wonder if they are talking to the right person, or if they should be speaking to someone with more seniority.
“…my God you’re greasy.”
7. Look for External Contributing Factors
It has often been said that best time to buy a car is near the end of a month, when salespeople are trying to reach their monthly sales quota. They will likely budge on certain areas in an effort to make a sale.
Time is an area people don’t usually think of when they are setting up a negotiation, but it can certainly be an important factor.
Think of the challenges your negotiation opponent will be facing, and think of ways you might be able to use them to an advantage.
8. Scout the Location
This one might not be for everyone, but it is true for myself so I thought I would include it here – scout the location. If you get nervous in front of people you don’t know very well, get there early. When you’re researching information for the negotiation, find out if there is a coffee shop down the street. I like to get to the area about half an hour early, sit in a coffee shop and go over the notes a few more times. I like to do this especially if it’s in a part of town I don’t know well, and I’m worried about the possibility of being late. The fear of being late is a distraction you don’t need.
I’d rather be an hour early than 5 minutes late. Take the hour, get a juice or a coffee, and read through your notes. You’ll be more relaxed and confident.
9. Use Positive Phrases
When you feel like you are closing on a particular point, you will want to conclude strong. Your phrases need to be positive – get your opponent on ‘yes’ and keep them there. Here are a few sample phrases that will give you an idea:
“OK, this is a great starting point…”
“OK, great, I think we are narrowing in…”
“Great, we’re further on now but we still need to look at the price / date / quantity…”
“I think we can do better than that…”
“This isn’t quite right, could you offer…?”
“Is there any flexibility…?”
You want to work with the other party to get to a point that both agree with, and staying positive is the best way to do this.
10. Close Properly
As you close on a point, repeat and summarise the key points so everyone has clarity. The goal here is for everyone to agree on the deal, and come away with a satisfied conclusion. An example phrase would be:
“Ok, great, but just so we’re clear, that’s 5 hours per week for the next 2 weeks at €50 per hour…”
The last thing you want is to have to set up this meeting again just because people came away with different terms.
So those are my tactics to becoming a great negotiator like Jack Donaghy. If you have other tactics, as always you can contact me through Twitter.
Talk to you soon =)