12 business negotiation tips

Negotiating is one of those business skills that causes so much stress for some people, they avoid it at all costs. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! These are some basic tactics you can apply the next time you’re in a position to negotiate a price.

The tips are adapted from the great Copyblogger article, “Get Paid What You’re Worth: 37 Negotiation Tactics for Every Freelance Writer,” which I stumbled upon years ago, and have been using as a guide for my own negotiations ever since. These are some of the tips that have worked best for me over the years.

  1. Always think win-win. Negotiating is not a contest, it’s a conversation, and the goal is to find a solution that works for both parties.
  2. Have a price in mind. Knowing your own financial goals and comfort zones will allow the conversation to move more quickly.
  3. Use “we” instead of “I”. Since we’re looking for a win-win outcome, we’re in this together, and our language should reflect that.
  4. Flatter the other party. People like having their egos stroked, and simply saying something nice can go a long way.
  5. Be confident. Stand your ground. Know what you’re worth. Don’t agree to terms you’re uncomfortable with.
  6. Stop caring about the outcome. When the outcome doesn’t matter, you’re more relaxed and confident. Remember: there will be other opportunities.
  7. Talk to the decision makers. Speaking to a middle man means you’ll have to rely on them to deliver your pitches.
  8. Avoid saying price first. Having the other party’s budget is valuable information. Ask for a budget. If they refuse, try another tactic.
  9. Keep your mouth shut. Silence makes people uncomfortable so they talk to fill the gap, and may reveal useful info, like their budget.
  10. Find space to think. A common sales tactic is to get people to agree on the spot. Avoid doing this. Tell the other party you need some time.
  11. If you’re not happy, say so. People aren’t mind readers! If the price isn’t right for you, let them know so they can make another offer.
  12. Walk away. If you’ve tried everything, and you’re still not happy, end the negotiation. It’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to shop around.

You don’t have to use all of these tactics during one negotiation — simply apply the ideas when it makes sense. This is also by no means a finite list of tactics; whole books have been written on the topic. But these are a few easy tips to try. Above all, always keep a good attitude; you’re going to be working with these people after all!