Do your knees shake, your pulse fastens, your hands sweat when you need to negotiate anything? Get over it. Discover 5 seldom-discussed secrets to negotiate your salary, a contract, a promotion or your new car. I’ll tell you how I did it!
To negotiate from strength you must first know what you’re negotiating
1Whatever you’re negotiating, that is not the only thing on the table
Say you sell web design and support services and you’re sitting with a prospective client. If you are only prepared to negotiate your fee you’re missing the point. Many people can design a website. And there will always be someone who can charge less than you. What do you offer that is worth hiring you to do it? What are your terms? What kind of service do you offer once you turn the site over to your client? Can you offer to design a second, personal website, for free? Could you offer an update after a year?
The same is true if you’re negotiating a promotion or a salary. To negotiate from strength, remember to be creative. Think beyond what’s in front of you. Even circumstances and rules you might think are fixed, are not. Everything is negotiable.
Here’s my own example. I recently ordered my new Acme car (obviously not the real brand!) It was my fourth Acme. My third with the same dealership. Second time leasing. I was scheduled to pick up my car on Friday. On Wednesday, I received a call. It was about a $1,000 cash back sale that was taking place at my dealership on Saturday. When Paul, the salesperson who sold me the last three cars, called me to confirm my pickup date, I asked for the $1,000 cash back. Here’s a synopsis of the dialog that followed:
“You don’t qualify because you ordered the car several weeks ago. You have to buy your car on Saturday to qualify. It’s the rule.”
“Paul, the rules are relative. Who do I have to talk to in order to get my discount?”
“It doesn’t work like that. The rules come from Acme Headquarters. There’s not much I can do.”
“Wait, are you punishing me for being a loyal customer? This is the third Acme I buy from you…”
So what do you think happened? Read on to find out!
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You always negotiate with a person
Whether it’s a job offer or a car lease you always negotiate with a person. Regardless of the size of their organization. Obviously, it could turn out that a couple of people make the final decision. But you get what I’m saying. This means it’s important to connect with the person who’s there to negotiate with you. The more you know about them and what would make them look good, the better. So research the person you’re likely to negotiate with, ahead of your meeting. Think about what would benefit the other person. What they need to win and what they can afford to lose.
In my conversation with Paul, I knew he didn’t want to lose a loyal customer. I also knew there was a problem that he could pass on to his organization so that he could save face with me. So that he could look like he was on my side.
Here’s how the dialog continued:
“I don’t care what the small print says. Your dealer hired a company to conduct the flash sale and gave them the list of customers. You guys should’ve removed those customers who already bought cars. So we wouldn’t get a call like this.”
“Let me see what I can do.”
Can you guess how it turned out?
Decide ahead of time your bottom line
Yes. You have to have a number, below which you refuse to negotiate. Why? Because if you don’t, you run the risk to negotiate against your own interests. This goes for your salary, for any project and for anything you sell. And it’s the reason why cultivating ingenuity and creativity goes a long way. Think of a variety of items to negotiate above and beyond what’s on the table.
My call with Paul was an active negotiation. My goal was to get the $1,000 discount. But I had already given a down payment on the car and was bound by the contract I had signed when I ordered it. So, I decided that if I could get $500 I’d be happy.
When I walked into the dealership that Friday, the lease was already written out. With my $1,000 discount! Yes. It was that simple. I just had to ask and insist on it. But wait. Because the negotiation didn’t end there.
Build your confidence right before you have to negotiate
If negotiation doesn’t come naturally to you, here’s a trick. Create a ritual that you do before you have to negotiate. It could be that you strike a power pose for a couple of minutes. Hands on your waist, standing on open legs. (The Wonder Woman stance.) Or, with your arms up in a V shape as a champion. (Like the athletes do when they win.) It’s proven to elicit a chemical boost of confidence.
You can also create a mantra. “I’m a powerful negotiator.” “I love to negotiate. It’s fun and exciting.” Whatever suits you. It will help you feel stronger and focused right before you hit the ground running.
A couple of weeks after I drove my cool new car home, I received a letter from Acme Financial Services. It was a bill for around $1,000! What? They listed items that shown “excessive wear and tear” of my previous car. The one I had turned in. So guess who I called first? Yup. Paul.
He promised to look into it. And he did. He got his dealership to knock $300 off the bill. Now I had to call the financial company and get the rest taken care of. Ommmmmmm…
Beware of signs that “this” is not a negotiation
Let’s be honest. There are times when people offer you a job interview even though they already have the candidate for the position. It’s a legal thing. They have to interview certain number of potential candidates. Or they already have the vendor they want to use. Stay alert so you pick up those signs and avoid investing too much time and energy. But don’t waste the chance to make a great impression. You’re there already. You never know what might happen in the future. So take advantage of the opportunity and show your best self.
Okay. So I called Acme Financial Services and spoke very kindly to the customer service rep.
“I don’t understand… You guys inspected the car and everything was fine and suddenly, 200 miles later, when I turn it in, the car needs new tires? At 19,000 miles? Could you please look into it for me?”
He didn’t really know what to respond. He knew this wasn’t a negotiation. He knew he had to make this bill go away.
And so he did.
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