Learning how to negotiate assertively is one of the best ways to keep your costs low and your bottom line high, but sometimes, negotiation skills rarely come naturally. If you’re not used to bargaining, you could be losing out on some serious money.
How to Negotiate Assertively in 5 Simple Steps
- Be prepared. That nugget of advice isn’t just good for the Boy Scouts – it’s good for your negotiations too. Know your vendor and the products and terms they offer. And, know their competitors too. Being fully informed – or as informed as possible – is the best way to gain an immediate advantage when it comes to getting what you want and deserve from a vendor or anyone else for that matter. Do your homework online by visiting the vendor’s site, the sites of their competitors, and forums where your peers hang out to read about their own experiences and “deals.”
- Practice emotional responsibility. That means basing your emotions and reactions strictly on what you want to achieve, not on your vendors’ responses. Consider it your negotiating “poker face.” When you appear cool, calm and collected, you’re more likely to demand respect too – and that means vendors are more likely to take your goals more seriously. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be unfriendly or cold, but don’t be angry or disparaging when the vendor makes a counteroffer.
- Know what you want ahead of time. When you’re in negotiations and your emotions are in play, that’s not the time to figure things out. Instead, hash out the details on paper once you’re homework is done so you’ll have a better idea of what’s fair in terms of cost and other factors. By ironing out the details ahead of time, you’ll also be able to include items you’re willing to do without so the final deal isn’t so one-sided.
- Be firm. Consider any offer carefully – just because it’s not exactly what you’re asking for doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good deal. But if the vendor’s offer simply falls too far short of what you’re looking for – or what a competitor is offering – don’t be shy about reiterating what you want and why (this is where doing your homework comes in handy).
- Be flexible. OK, this may seem counterintuitive to the previous point, but remember: What you want is a win-win situation that gets you a great deal while also making your vendor feel valued. You’re not out to “get” the vendor or force a deal that’s so one-sided, they’ll be less likely to want to deal with you in the future. Having your ideal objectives worked out ahead of time – and prioritized – helps you decide which items you can do without so your vendor feels like they’ve won too.
For many people, being an assertive negotiator is out of their comfort zone – and the majority of vendors know that. By developing your negotiating skills, you establish yourself as a knowledgeable customer who knows a good deal when they see it. That means plenty of vendors are more likely to offer good deals to ensure they lock you in and cut out the competition.
Taking some time to hone your own negotiating skills requires time, but it’s a pretty small investment compared to the lucrative rewards you could reap.