5 Rules to Winning a Negotiation

Personal Development

I’m a horrible negotiator…just ask the car salesman from my last car purchase. Or the dishwasher salesman who I gladly paid full price only to hear that friends of ours were able to get a better price from him.

“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” This is the title of Dr. Karrass’ best selling negotiating book and a statement that I experience to be true on a regular basis.

Upon strong encouragement from my business coach, I just completed the Dr. Karrass Effective Negotiating program when it came to Vancouver. I definitely recommend it to anyone who needs help in this area.

There’s a lot more depth and theory that the course covers but here are 5 key rules that anyone can apply the next time you need to win a negotiation.

  1. Do your homework. Most negotiations are won before any talking takes place. Take the time to build information and knowledge that you can use to gain an advantage and to know what a good deal looks like. This includes industry knowledge, pricing, competitive pressures, supply and demand pressures etc.
  2. Make sure you have alternatives if the negotiation breaks down. If you only have one option, you’re not in a strong position to negotiate a strong price. Make sure there’s an option or alternative so that you can walk away if need be.
  3. Don’t say yes too quickly. The more people work for the outcome, the more satisfied they are with that outcome. Play hard to get. Both parties are usually motivated to make a deal happen but don’t make it too easy. Holding back a yes can trigger to the other party that they need to concede more and prepares them for a counter offer
  4. Watch out for the deadlines. Most concessions and the deepest concessions happen when time is almost up. Choose the right time to negotiate that will give you the best advantage. Buying a car at the end of the month when the salesman needs to hit their quota is more powerful than at the beginning of the month.
  5. Find the best deal for all parties. Negotiations shouldn’t be a zero-sum game where one party wins at the expense of the other. Find a way to create more value which usually involves elements other than price. These could mean payment terms, connections to others, promises of future work, savings in tax, etc.

North Americans are not usually good at negotiations or haggling over a price. Remember that the goal is not to win at the expense of the other person, but rather to ensure the right level of value is being exchanged. Ironically, that value is often the result of the negotiation.


Enjoy your week!