Group negotiating a deal

You can always get what you want

Graham Kerr, Senior Consultant at the Hemsley Fraser Group, shares a few secrets of successful negotiators

Graham Kerr, Senior Consultant at the Hemsley Fraser Group, shares a few secrets of successful negotiators

“So what’s the best deal you can offer me then?” This is one of those questions you dread being asked in a business negotiation because it puts you on the back foot. It also summarises quite nicely one of the main challenges of a negotiation – how to get yourself in a strong position. I have some key pointers:

Don’t start negotiating right at the beginning of your discussion

It’s what the questioner above is hoping you’ll do. It will leave you in a weak position early on because you probably don’t know enough yet about where they are coming from. Take your time and…

Ask lots of searching questions

In a negotiation, information is power. The more you can ask the more you’ll find out.

Have a structure and follow it

  1. Plan your approach
  2. Establish a friendly rapport
  3. Ask relevant questions and signal what you want them to think your position is
  4. Ideally get them to propose first because then you get information first
  5. Always politely reject their first proposal even if it gives you what you want, it will never be their best offer
  6. Trade don’t give concessions
  7. If you think you’ve got agreement then ask for it

Trade concessions, don’t give them away

Why should you give something without getting something back in return – and I don’t mean getting the deal itself in return. For example: “If you’ll increase your order by 10,000 tons, then yes I’ll give you the discount you’re asking for” – see what I mean?

Keep pushing until they’ll move no more

That’s the point at which to shake hands – not before!

And a key tip to finish? The more you get them talking the stronger your position will be.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK