How To Negotiate To Get The Best Deal Every Time
There's an abundance of negotiation strategies available online, and at the dinner table on Friday when you go home to the folks and receive some loving advice (solicited or otherwise). But the truth is, all you need to know in order to get the best outcome is to plan ahead and follow this simple strategy. And, as luck may have it, it is seamlessly applicable to every negotiation you'll encounter in your long and successful career.
Picture this: You are one step away from getting hired to work for the startup of your dreams. All that stands between you and the beginning of this new chapter is *cue dramatic music* signing the contract.
Contract negotiation is a classic example, and it's great because whether you are a Junior Account Executive about to start your first job, or a seasoned entrepreneur about to sign with a venture capital firm - contracts are, and will always be, an important part of business. To make things as straightforward as possible, we'll go over the steps while following this example we have all experienced - negotiating an employment contract. And, *spoiler alert*, our template will be available for download at the end, so you can use this technique in your next negotiation process.
It’s all about mapping out the variables.
Naturally, every side of a negotiation comes to the table with their own set of requirements. Some of these will overlap, some will bear the potential to co-exist, and some might clash. The first thing you need to do is map out all these potential discussion points. This means figuring out what is important to you, but also to the other side.
To get the answers about the other side, you might need to ask your counterpart some investigative questions. That shouldn't be a problem, as the end-goal is coming to an agreement, so it is in both side's best interest to understand each other.
Once you have all the information, divide it into 4 buckets:
1 - Things that are important to me
2 - Things that are important to my counterpart
3 - Things that are not important to me
and 4 - Things that are not important to my counterpart
Simple as that - identify the variables, and place each in one of the four buckets.
To demonstrate, let's use our example: we are negotiating an employment contract with a startup. In this kind of contract negotiation, it is likely the main relevant components would be: salary, equity, benefits, bonuses, paid time off, and work conditions (hybrid, in office, etc.).
A possible map of the four buckets could look like this:
Now that all the relevant variables have been mapped out, you can enter the negotiation process with clear priorities. Yes, this simple technique can make the whole negotiation process seem way less stressful and intimidating! Just don’t forget -
Trust is a priority.
This might be obvious, but it is worth noting that, as our example entailed a contract signing negotiation, it is essentially the start of a professional relationship. Relationships are powerful, and can be harnessed to empower an individual in any setting, professional or otherwise.
In a recent article published by Harvard Business Review, Jeswald Salacuse wrote: “Positive negotiation relationships are important not because they engender warm, fuzzy feelings, but because they engender trust – a vital means of securing desired actions from others.”.
This is an especially important point when discussing a negotiation that marks the start of a business relationship, as there is nothing more powerful than trust. Using this technique, you can handle the negotiation process in a way that leaves your counterpart with a feeling that you are a good listener, reliable, committed, and trustworthy - exactly the kind of qualities you would want to showcase to your new employer. That’s why we recommend striving for balance. Plus, preparing to compromise should be much easier now that you have efficiently mapped out the variables.
Want to give this technique a try?
Enter your email below and you'll get access to our free template. Fill it out with your variables as you prepare for your next negotiation, and we wish you the best of luck!