I may not have an MBA or handle negotiations for a living, but I’ve done a lot of living and have learned to get what I want at the prices I can afford. Here are my top negotiating tips that can be applied to any negotiation.
1. Identify when you have leverage and when you don’t
If what you’re trying to buy or rent is a hot commodity, you probably won’t be able to negotiate a better deal. You may even look foolish if you try. On the other hand, if what you’re trying to buy or rent is in some way flawed or the seller is facing a deadline, you have what I call leverage and you should use it to negotiate a better deal. The same concept can be applied to jobs. If you have only a generic skill set that most everyone has, you probably won’t be able to negotiate a better salary or a raise. However, if you have a unique skill set that an employer would be hard-pressed to find in another candidate, you have leverage. Use it to negotiate a higher salary or a raise.
2. Do your homework
Research what things are worth and what the competitors are selling them for. If it’s a salary you’re trying to negotiate, use a website like Glassdoor to see other peoples’ salaries in your field or in your company. Have a number in your head before you start negotiations.
3. Be likable
My mom always told me “You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.” It’s pretty simple. If you’re cool, the other party will want to do business with you and will probably offer you a better deal simply because you’re likable. If you’re a jerk, they’ll probably want to screw you over.
4. Pad your offer
If you’re the buyer, name a price far less than you would actually be willing to pay. If you’re the seller, name a price far higher than you would be willing to accept. For example, if you’re selling something on Craigslist, list the price higher than what you would be willing to accept. That way, if the buyer talks you down a little, they feel like they’re getting a deal when in fact you may have been willing to accept a much lower offer. On the flip side, if you’re a buyer, make the seller believe that your offer is the highest you would be willing to pay when in fact you know you can pay more.
5. Be confident and never come across as desperate
You MUST be confident when presenting your offer. If you seem unsure of your offer the other party will take notice and use your hesitation to their advantage. And if you come across as desperate, the other party will know they have leverage (see #1).
6. Be creative
Think outside of the box. Don’t focus completely on the item or product itself. For example, if you’re trying to rent an apartment that comes with 2 parking spaces but you only have 1 car, use that to negotiate a reduction in rent. Point out the income potential in that parking space if the owner can rent it to someone else.
7. Walk away if it’s not going your way
If you’ve decided that you have leverage and you’ve attempted to negotiate but it doesn’t seem to be going your way, don’t be afraid to walk away. Simply say “Thank you but I’ll really need to think about it” and walk away. Often times you won’t make it out the door before the seller/employer calls you back in and concedes.
I hope these tips help you in your future negotiations!