The not so subtle art of negotiation
Negotiation as a skill is probably one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of any future entrepreneur. Here are a few tips that may help you along the way. A quick read that was written by a millennial for millennials.
We are here to learn about entrepreneurship, at least as much as a young mind like myself can teach you, which may end up being a lot. I have spent the last 3 years working with multiple start-ups at different capacities and I have a lot to share. Also please remember there is so much more information out there apart from what I can provide in my articles. So use my content as a stepping stone and prepare your self for your future.
So… Today we are going to learn about negotiation. So let's get to it, shall we?
“If you can't go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it.” -Ashleigh Brilliant
When is the right time to negotiate? This question bothers even the most tested veteran. Too soon and you lose the advantage that you would have gained by waiting, and too late would mean that whatever smoking gun you had up your sleeve would turn into a steaming pile of shite. Like most things that are of consequence, negotiation as well is dependent on timing. And like I always say “timing is key”.
Here is a quick meme to distract you from my dry writing. Let's chalk it up to lack of sleep.
Let’s also work with the assumption that in the near future memes will be used to teach a class and will also become inspirational subjects for dissertations. Getting back to the topic at hand, it is important for you to find the sweet spot to make your move. It's also totally your call as to if you want to let your opponent simmer a little and get them all hot and bothered or if you want to go in guns blazing and take no prisoners. Both scenarios have their pros and cons and I for a fact can tell you that I am not omniscient. So it would be wrong on my part to give you advice on a situation which has too many variables and is almost always dependent on circumstances. Then what’s the need for this silly paragraph you may ask. It is to remind you that timing is everything and you and only you shall decide when the best time for you to act is.
Now that we have that key piece of information out of the way. We can talk about what most people new to this cesspool of confusing questions and remarks that we call business want to know about “When to negotiate?”
Negotiating is a tricky business and sometimes it’s important to realize that fighting an unwinnable war is just plain stupid especially when diplomatic marriages were an option. All you need to do is ask. Let me explain with a quick example. It makes no sense to negotiate on the pricing with a well-known service provider to whom you are just another account. It is always better to find a team that is starting up and has strong leadership. Companies such as these are easier to negotiate with and will give you more than 100 % because they have something to prove.* (Conditions applied)
So kids always remember to pick your battles. If you can go around it, over it, or through it, you had better not negotiate with it.
“We cannot negotiate with those who say, ‘What's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable.’ ” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy
This is for all the geeks out there, including me. A reference that not many may understand, but what the hell. Always know when you are taking the “Kobayashi Maru” (Refer Star Trek). Always know when you have an unwinnable situation to deal with. No matter how good you are, you need to know and realize that if somebody doesn’t want to negotiate then you most definitely can’t give the person any deal that would be even slightly to your advantage. Unless… You play the man and not the game. If the game is rigged then you need to change the rules.
And you can only do this if you have a smoking gun hidden up your sleeve. We will talk more about this in our next point.
"You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." ~ Al Capone
A smoking gun is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal when you get down to negotiating. Its is defined as “a piece of incontrovertible incriminating evidence” but since we are talking about business and god knows we all love ethics (*wink wink*) we are going to change the definition a little. To the good businessmen, a smoking gun is basically any piece of information that will ultimately help you close the deal. It can be that one killer USP that your competitors don’t have. Or it can be dependent on circumstances.
It can be a position of power that you have in the given situation which you can use. Or an exceptionally good deal that can be used to tempt the board. Also in worst case scenarios, it can be information. Information is priceless. So on that note, I am going to elaborate on the concept of research and how important it is to make the most of any piece of intel that you can get your hands on in my next article.
For all and anything that corresponds to a win, the most important thing as mentioned earlier is research. Research is essential for any deal to be closed in a stipulated period of time. It is time-consuming grunt work but is necessary.
Research is like a superpower. It needs to be harnessed and it needs to be perfected with practice. You know what, I am going to give you a little homework here. I am going to leave the rest of the page empty. Print it out and do your research on any topic of your choice. In my next article, I am going to talk about research in details. After that article is out, feel free compare your method to mine. There are no wrong answers here, so give it a shot.
…………… Start your homework here (Use spare sheets as required)..........................
"Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may, at last, induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously." ~ Lance Morrow
I am not even going to… Just read this 5 times and then read it 5 times again. And if you don’t understand this even then just go ahead and close your laptop, get rid of your phone and take a nap.
On a side note, do try this if you ever get a chance. It is very satisfying.
My father said: ''You must never try to make all the money that's in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won't have many deals.'' ~ J. Paul Getty
It is important for us to realize the value of goodwill. In every deal that you take up, there is always a possibility for success or failure. But you need to remember that a kind word or considerate proposition will take you very far. It will make people realize that you aren’t their enemy nor are you a faux villain from the early 1960s who’s only objective in life is to make a quick buck and leave his/her opponents with nothing more than a sack of potatoes.
Let your opponent also have a piece of the cake. Remember kids “Sharing is caring” and the more you can share after keeping your best interests in mind the more contacts you will make. And these little friends of yours will always come handy. So remember; create your network with goodwill and never burn down any bridges.
"If you are planning on doing business with someone again, don't be too tough in the negotiations. If you're going to skin a cat, don't keep it as a house cat." ~ Marvin S. Levin
An extension of our last topic of discussion is also very essential. You need to realize that you cannot always be good, especially when we are talking about negotiations. You will sometimes have to take no prisoners and win the battle at all costs. Sometimes you will face a do or die scenario and that is okay. But you need to make sure that you avoid going to such extremes with people whom you do business with regularly. It is sometimes okay to face a loss especially if you are to gain a much bigger win later due to the said loss.
Learn to appreciate the concept of delayed gratification. It is okay to wait sometimes. Actually, it is more than okay. You might gain more by waiting than by hurrying into battle. But always remember, make this decision with the utmost consideration and after putting a lot of thought into it.
Also a quick note on burning bridges; Do not do that! You never know when you may need the help of someone whom you might have pissed off two centuries ago. Always end relationships at good terms.
In conclusion, negotiation isn’t easy and it cannot be learnt by reading a bunch of articles or by watching a bunch of videos. It can only be perfected (hyperbole) with practice and a little bit of shamelessness. You need to put yourself out and sometimes have a fool made out of yourself. Or even get laughed, these embarrassing but useful tidbits of experience will help you build your own style of negotiation. And who knows maybe someday you will be writing an article for the world to read and marvel at (hyperbole again).
PS: I do apologize if haven’t been gender inclusive. I am trying to incorporate it in my writing but like all learning curves, this one is steep too.
PPS: What do you think helps facilitate learning; Videos or Blogs? Also Vanilla or Chocolate?