Tips for Becoming a Better Negotiator

As a husband and father of four children it seems my life is always a negotiation. And of course the negotiating doesn’t stop when I go into work. But negotiating is the one skill that has made a bigger difference in my life than any other.

Every day, non-profit executives have to negotiate a variety of issues: hiring and firing staff, signing a lease on a new office; purchasing products or equipment; or hiring a consultant. Negotiating doesn’t have to be a drag; in fact, it’s important to look at it as a key skill to be learned . . . and even enjoyed.

So, let’s take a look at some tips for negotiating for your non-profit.

  1. If you can’t walk away, you have already lost. You must be able to walk away from the deal, otherwise you have¬†no bargaining position. This is the cardinal rule in the whole process.
  2. We have two ears and one mouth for a purpose – LISTEN. If you’re doing all of the talking you can’t learn anything from the person with whom you’re negotiating. Listen to the person first.
  3. In most negotiating sessions, the stated reason is rarely the real reason. Find out the truth behind the reason they give you for their decision.
  4. The final offer is rarely the final offer. When the person states that this is the final offer, don’t believe him. If you keep on talking, you can usually continue to generate more give and take.
  5. Make sure the person you are dealing with has the power to give you what you want. When negotiating, ask the person directly whether they have the ability to make the final decision. If they don’t, ask if you can talk to the person who does have the power to make that decision.
  6. Information is more important than instincts. If you do your research and know the facts information will always win over your instincts. Prepare before you enter a negotiation.
  7. If you negotiate with your heart you’ll end up with heart disease. Don’t rely on passion, feeling, and emotion when negotiating. Gather the information and facts, and present the issue from a rational, un-emotional position.
  8. After you make an offer, don’t say a word. This is an old selling technique that we use when we train fundraisers to ask for money. Once you ask for the money, be quiet and look the person directly in the eye. Let the person respond first.
  9. Timing is important. The real question is not “What should I buy?” but “When should I buy it?” Many sales people need to make their quota by the end of the month. Timing is critical.
  10. Don’t be afraid to say “No, no, no,” and “No” again.Sometimes the quickest way to “Yes” is to say “No.”