SCORE

Negotiating is par for the course when running your small business. Working out a deal with a client is a necessary, though not always enjoyable experience. One thing to keep in mind is that negotiating is less about haggling and more about producing an outcome that satisfies both parties. Jennifer Dawn of Jennifer Dawn Coaching presented a webinar on what successful negotiations look like. Here are some takeaways. 

Listen 

“Empathetic listening is absolutely the number one key to successful negotiations,” says Jennifer. You have to listen in order to know your client’s needs. Listen with intention and clear away any distractions that may come up. If your cell phone keeps ringing, email notifications keep popping up, or noise from your surrounding area continually interrupt you, turn them off or close the door. Make sure your client knows he or she has your full attention. Doing this helps build trust, which is important when negotiating. Once you’ve established trust and listened to what your client is saying, you’ll be able to pick up information you can use to ask questions and delve deeper into your client’s needs. Put yourself in their position when listening. Think about what they may want and need to further their business. “If we can see things from their perspective, that is actually going to make us excellent negotiators,” Jennifer explains. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions 

You shouldn’t be afraid to look stupid if you ask a question to clarify something you may not understand. “That’s going to keep you from listening because you’re having that conversation up in your head,” says Jennifer. Worrying how you will look to your client if you ask a question leaves you in the dark and keeps you from hearing anything else that may help explain a client’s needs. This impairs your ability to offer a solution. 

Get On the Same Page 

Since negotiating is about forming a meeting of the minds, it’s best to make sure you understand each other. This means you can’t come to the negotiations being focused only on your agenda or having any previous judgments. Sure, you want a favorable outcome for yourself in the end, but you can’t be so focused on your wants that you dismiss your client’s. You also have no room to negotiate if you are judging his or her hair, clothing, or anything else that may have nothing to do with the negotiations at hand. In other words, “if you want to successfully negotiate, you’ve got to come to that conversation without bringing any of your junk,” as Jennifer puts it. 

Have Intention For a Favorable Outcome 

“Before you go into negotiations, get crystal clear on the outcome you desire,” says Jennifer. Know what you want, but don’t be hard-nosed and inflexible in what you want to achieve. Doing this puts your client on the defensive which makes it harder to communicate. Instead, make it a goal to leave the negotiating table with the results that satisfy both you and your client. 

Ask For What You Want 

“So many people want to be people pleasers. Everybody wants to make everybody else happy, but when you just start asking for what you want, in many ways, it’s such a relief,” Jennifer explains. This is because stating what you want eliminates guessing what the other party may be thinking and gets straight to the point. “So don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want inside of a negotiation, and hopefully you’re also taking into mind the other person and making sure it’s a win-win for both parties. 

If you want to learn more about successful negotiations, check out our webinar Negotiate Like a Pro and Get What You Want

About the Author(s)

As part of the marketing and writing team, I help SCORE Westchester raise its profile with articles and written communication that help SCORE clients learn what our organization does to help them start and manage their small businesses.

Key Topics

Female business owner shaking hands with client.