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Negotiating Your Way To Victory

If you are a success-driven individual, you know what you want and you ensure you get it in everything you do. From persuading your wife to change the family vacation plans for Vegas over a historical tour of Williamsburg, Virginia, to acquiring a thriving company with immeasurable potential for pennies on the dollar: the craft of negotiation is prevalent in all aspects of life.  

Let's face it: if you are not an effective negotiator, you will be taken advantage of time and time again. When most people are placed in a situation involving high-stakes negotiation, they act poorly based on inaccurate preconceptions about what the actual process entails.

But negotiation is an integral aspect of entrepreneurship, and if you want to succeed, you need to learn to employ masterful negotiating tactics in those do-or-die moments. The ability to execute these proven techniques will leave you with such an advantage, you will get the better end of every deal you enter upon. Conversely, any shortcomings you may have in negotiating capabilities will result in you getting the short end of the stick each and every time.

And after all, success in business – and in life, in general – is nothing more than one ultimate negotiation. The iconic Wall Street character – Gordon Gekko – who become the idol to a generation of spirited entrepreneurs who swept the world of high-finance in the '80s and '90s, made a memorable statement about negotiating as a game of life:

It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic.

This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.

There is no way around it. If you want success – in whatever it is you are pursuing – you must demonstrate a mastery of the negotiating craft. And like anything in this world, powerful negotiation is a blend of art and science. Here are the four steps for negotiating your way to victory:

1. Read Between The Lines

Listening – first and foremost – is critical to successful negotiation, yet many arrogantly shrug it off as “weak” or “caving”.  To do so is a fatal mistake. To attain your end goal in the transaction, you must first understand the end goal of your counterpart. From start to finish in the process, listen and digest (not just hear) what your counterpart is expressing and note what he decides to leave out of the conversation.

Be analytical.  Read between the lines so you can dissect – with dead on precision – what it is your counterpart really wants.  By determining what your client or counterpart's endgame is, you will be able to devise an internal plan to achieve your endgame at smallest possible price.

2. Overcome Fear

There is no room for fear in the process of negotiation… at least on your end, anyway. Fear can lead you to unintentionally revealing your cards in the middle of the deal. If your counterpart knows what it is you want and how bad you really want it, he has already won. Do not allow fear to make a decision for you, especially something like “putting it all out on the table”.

Keep everything close to the chest to retain the upper hand. Moreover, you can never be afraid to walk away from a deal. Do not be fooled: contrary to what your cunning counterpart may want you to believe, walking away from a deal requires balls. True submission to fear is accepting a deal anything less than the standard you set beforehand.

Do not change your goals, switch stances, or alter your standards while negotiating. Determine the lowest possible value you will accept and the most you are willing to tradeoff, before entering the negotiation table. Then, be bold enough to stick those plans. Fear of “time running out”, “last chance”, or simply not getting what you want will undoubtedly result in failure. Have unwavering courage and audacity and be true to yourself.

3. Knowledge Is Power

The absolute most important negotiating ammo is information.  If you are more knowledgeable on the topic or object of concern, you will run circles around your counterpart. Even on a mental level, if he feels you are better prepared or have more expertise on the matter, he will feel insecure  – and by extension – will act inferior. Moreover, get information on your counterpart: as an individual, his history, prior deals and negotiations, and especially his current situation.

In other words, ensure you know more about him than he knows about you. From here, you will be able to accurately guess his every move, argument, rebuttal, stance, and endgame. You will be able to determine what he wants and doesn't want, as well as what he is willing to give up and not willing to give up. But remember: outsmarting your counterpart is only a matter of preparation, not talent. Do your homework.

4. The Like-ability Factor

Developing a friendly relationship with the person you are trying to execute a deal with can be a huge game changer.  Even if you two are not on the same page and fail to find any common interests or mutually beneficial tradeoffs, you can still walk away better than before if you win him over on a personal level.

Like in all aspects of life, being likable makes your battle twice as easy. Find a level of simpatico and play to your counterpart's personality. Upon doing so, he will be willing to go the extra mile – maybe even do everything within his power – to make the deal a positive one. And, your counterpart may end up caving to your wishes more or offer bigger tradeoffs  than if there was no personal connection.

Negotiating requires salesmanship. And the first rule in Sales 101 is you must make a personal connection with the customer or client. Do not enter with arrogance, a closed-mind outlook, or a single-serving goal. If you open yourself up to prospect of “friendship”, you open up your chances of success.

You want your counterpart to open up the purse strings, but this requires a masterful execution of the above negotiating steps. Be analytical, be fearless, be knowledgeable, and be likable. If so, you will negotiate your way to victory in every deal that comes your way.

Venture Clout | Elite.

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