How to negotiate like a pro

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Whatever your role, being able to negotiate effectively is likely to prove a useful skill and could even help you progress at work. Here’s how to make sure you’re always on the winning side

Whether we realise it or not, we spend most of our lives negotiating. It might be about the price of an order or service, or even getting a raise at work, but having the right skills and techniques to do so properly could be the difference between success and failure.

Here are eight tips to help you achieve the outcome you want.

1. Do your homework

Don’t sit down at the negotiating table without first knowing everything you can about the other party. Having a clear idea of where they’re coming from will give you a good sense of how much they’re able to concede and what they really need.

2. Listen

Listening to the other person’s needs and demands will help you build trust and mutual respect. It also helps to establish some common ground, and it makes it easier for both parties to give a little.

3. Ask the right questions

Effective listening also enables you to ask the right follow-up questions. These should be open-ended to encourage the other party to reveal more about where they stand and what they’re prepared to do.

4. Make the first move

Conventional wisdom suggests waiting for the other person to reveal their hand before coming up with a counter-offer. In fact, research has shown that the person who makes the first move is most likely to end up with the better deal.

5. Control your emotions

Successful negotiators are able to take their own feelings out of the situation and avoid making things personal. It’s only business, after all.

6. Leave yourself some room to manoeuvre

Even if you’re the final decision-maker, stating that you need to consult with a business partner or colleague will buy you some time and the scope for further changes.

7. Expect counter-offers and rejections

These are sure to arrive at some point, so be ready. Classic rebuttals like not having the money to hand can be prepared for and swatted away.

8. Set a deadline

It may seem a bit “double glazing salesman”, but letting the other party know that your time is finite will encourage them to come to a decision – and it will more likely be in your favour. Use this tactic wisely though, and trust your instincts as to when to use this particular card.

And here’s one final tip...

The common denominator throughout the entire negotiation process is confidence: in yourself, in your product or in whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. If you can find that, you’ll be in a much stronger position right from the start.

Joanna Hollingdale MIMI is Careers and Student Membership Manager at the IMI

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?