The power of persuasion — negotiate like a pro

Business doesn't happen unless two or more people enter into a transaction; so if you're in business, you're a negotiator. You have no choice.
By Gary Epstein

Most entrepreneurial skills can’t be taught in school and one of the best skills to be armed with is knowing how to negotiate and, even more importantly, how to negotiate your way to a ‘yes’.

Being able to negotiate well impacts so many key factors in our careers. We negotiate for our jobs and salaries, for promotions and resources, and with clients, employees and franchise partners. If you’re an entrepreneur and franchise owner, you seem to be negotiating non-stop.

A big part of mastering the art of persuasion comes from understanding what kind of negotiator you are. Some might say that in a negotiation it’s best to let your inner rottweiler out, but if that is not your natural style, it probably won’t work for you. Whether you are a tough negotiator or prefer a subtler approach, staying true to yourself should deliver the best results.

One of the hardest parts of the ‘sell’ is getting people to understand and buy into your vision and preventing them from saying no before you have concluded your sales pitch. In the entrepreneurial world, as in franchising, ‘no’ is not an acceptable option, so learning the power of persuasion quickly is paramount to your survival.

Be prepared 
Preparation accounts for 90 percent of negotiating success. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to negotiate a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved. Knowledge is power and power is always on the side of the person with the best information.

Step 1: Gather as much information as you can about the upcoming negotiation.
Step 2: Think the negotiation through carefully, from beginning to end, and prepare for any eventuality.

Add a human touch 
When we are in business mode, we are inclined to forget to appeal to our ‘human side’. Learn to listen before you speak; listening to the person’s needs will enable you to explain the value of your proposition in a way that caters to their specific needs.

When negotiating with employees, remember that everyone has their own stresses and insecurities. A more human touch will go a long way to fostering loyalty and providing a sense of security, ultimately allowing you to realise the outcome you want.

Adding a human touch to your negotiations will increase the chances of both parties walking away from the deal happy.

Share information 
Studies have shown that sharing information, even when it’s not related to the negotiation, increases the chances of a positive outcome. Simply putting yourself out there, whether it is sharing your hobbies, personal concerns or hopes, will set a positive tone that increases your chances of gaining agreement. People tend to be matchers — to ‘follow the norm of reciprocity, responding in kind to how we treat them’; if we want to be trusted, we must first offer our trust.

Be willing to walk away 
Remember, if someone really wants to work with you, they will figure out a way to make it happen. Successful business owners know when something isn’t worth their time; being willing to walk away from the table to protect the integrity of your business, shows you mean business.

Good negotiators are very patient. Concentrate first on securing agreement on all the contractual elements the parties have in common before seeking amicable ways to settle the remaining issues. Taking the time to prepare questions aimed at clarifying each point of the contract as they go along, will avoid confusion later on.

Know your limits 
Before you enter into a negotiation, you must be clear about your deal breakers and non-negotiable points. Before breaking the negotiation down, attempt to establish the points of greatest import for each party; if there is a way that both parties can benefit, be willing to concede on the less important aspects.

You are able to achieve better outcomes by ranking and leaving all the issues on the table and being transparent about it so both parties can compare their rankings to determine what the real options are.

To thine own self be true 
It’s important to negotiate with someone who sees the value in what you are doing, and sees you as a partner — not someone to be taken advantage of. When first starting out, it is easy to undersell yourself, but it is incredibly important to always remember your worth and not to let people ‘take you for a ride’.

Every encounter is an opportunity 
Every moment you spend with someone who you might do business with — which means just about anyone you meet, anywhere, at any time — is a chance to create a vision for them. No boardroom tables or conference rooms are required.

The bottom line is that without transactions, business doesn't happen, and every transaction involves a certain amount of negotiation. What this ultimately means is that when you're in business, the power of persuasion is a valuable tool to be nurtured and developed — keep at it and you’ll be hearing the word ‘yes’ much more often.