Before heading to the table with a potential client, vendor, or business partner, a wise negotiator clearly understands their own negotiables. If you lack this clarity, it's easy to give up too much or become too rigid, sacrificing a great deal over relatively unimportant details. Defining your terms before the negotiation even starts and making sure your language is clear are some of the best ways to come out with a deal that's beneficial to all parties.
Preparation is key. When deciding beforehand what you're willing to negotiate on, consider several important factors:
Know your walkaway. It's essential you understand the minimum value you're willing to accept from a deal. This isn't limited to price. You may choose to walk away over deadlines, the amount or quality of services offered, marketing, or other considerations. Know up front which areas you won't compromise on.
Know your value. Make sure you clearly understand the value you add to the deal, whether it's quality, a wider range of marketing options, a better price, or more comprehensive services. Adding value at the beginning of the negotiation helps ease discussions of price later.
Know what you can afford to lose. Can you work on a tighter budget if more of that budget is allocated toward marketing to expand your business? Are you willing to offer more services? Is it possible to change aspects of the way you typically work to offer the client more control or support with the project?
Once you have this set of negotiables ready, address them with the client or supplier using clear, simple language. Everyone at the table needs to know exactly what they're agreeing to.
Once an agreement has been reached, all salient points need to be clearly outlined in the contract. Ensure all terms in the contract are attractively arranged, easy to read, and written in the simplest possible language. While overly wordy or complicated contracts can allow for nuance, that same nuance can also make it more difficult to prove the initial agreement. A court isn't guaranteed to infer something if it's not clearly communicated in the contract.
An overly complex contract can also hurt your credibility with a client or supplier, even when you have no ill intentions. What's more, misunderstandings over terms in a contract can force you to hold unnecessary meetings and additional negotiations in an attempt to clarify. This slows down work and damages relationships.
A contract that looks presentable, is easy to read, and sticks to the initial agreement makes a lasting positive impression. Every detail within a contract, from the way paragraphs are arranged to the language used, can help you build a beneficial relationship with your clients and suppliers. Combine PDFs into one file to help with presentation. A clearly stated and understood goal is essential when it comes to writing the contract, and simple language is essential to making the contract clear.
One way to practice your communication skills is through networking. Not only will you develop your skills, you’ll also meet people who can help your business.
Join your local chamber of commerce to connect with a supportive network of other business professionals.