10 Strategies for Negotiating Like a Pro

Seal the deal on your next business opportunity.

As a business owner, getting what you want is imperative to your company’s success. That’s because losing a deal could mean losing a competitive advantage—whether it be resources, clients, or sales that are meant to propel your business forward.

So how can you be sure to get the deal you want? Well, it’s all in your negotiation strategy. That’s why we asked 10 successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

Q. What’s one effective negotiation strategy to seal the deal on a major business opportunity?

1. Find a Competitive Bid

Whether you’re a startup or the biggest company in the world, negotiation often comes down to leverage. Is there another partner who can provide you with the same service as they can? When you need to move a deal along, nothing works better than setting a credible deadline and saying, “We’d love to work with you, but XYZ is ready to take your place.” —Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

2. Discover Areas of Mutual Gain

Spend time to discover the other party’s goals to increase the mutual gains achieved in the negotiation. For example, if the other party won’t budge on price, focus instead on other areas of the agreement, such as the length and scope of the warranty, a discount for purchasing in bulk, and other areas of interest that might provide even greater benefits for both parties. —Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

3. Pinpoint the Main Motivator

It’s critical to really understand what’s motivating the other party. Focus on this element. Everything is else is gravy, which isn’t much of a meal without the steak. Don’t overcomplicate the deal or stray too far from their main motivator. Rather, you should clearly explain and reinforce exactly how they’ll get what they really want. —Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

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4. Ask What They Need to Get It Done

Kim KaupeMajor business opportunities can sometimes have just one or two last details that are holding back a client from signing on the dotted line. Be upfront, direct, and simply ask, “What is it going to take to get this done? How can I help you get this greenlit?” Putting yourself on the same side of the table as the client helps you both tackle the problem together. —Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

5. Know Your Bottom Line Offer

You should have an intimate understanding of what exactly you need to be profitable and comfortable with a deal. You need to know how much money you’ll need to make a profit and how much time and effort you have to give to a business opportunity. These answers should help you negotiate the best deal possible, and will also tell you when it’s time to walk away from something that’s not profitable. —Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

6. Ask For More Than You Need (Then Compromise)

In the negotiation process, always plan for compromise. I recently learned that a great way to do this is to ask for three things you want when you only really need one of them. Make the one you actually need the least difficult of the three. That way, when the other party pushes back, you can say, “OK, I’ll compromise on two out of three of my requests, and I’ll just keep this one thing. Deal?” —Jesse Lear, V.I.P. Waste Services, LLC

7. See the Deal From Their Side

Alisha NavarroEvery opportunity has more than one party, and thinking, “What’s in it for them?” can be more important than thinking, “What’s in it for me?” See things from all perspectives, and if it doesn’t make sense, walk away. A mediocre deal with the right person or company can be worth much more than a great deal with the wrong person or company. Think of the future value of the relationship. —Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design

8. Listen and Adapt

Vik PatelWe walk into negotiations with expectations and biases. I’ve often endured frustrating negotiations with potential partners and vendors because we spoke at cross-purposes. Listen to what the other person is saying, and be ready to change your style and content to align with theirs. This is especially important for technical topics—don’t assume you know what they know, or they know what you know. —Vik Patel, Future Hosting

9. Play Hard to Get

Robby BerthumeIn business, success attracts success. When you’re negotiating, taking a position of confidence is paramount to succeeding. If you want to close the deal, you have to act like you don’t need it. Don’t be arrogant, just be patient, stay cool, and don’t easily waver. Speak strongly and without fear, and be willing to leave it all on the table. —Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard

10. Tell Them You Don’t Have Authority to Make a Final Decision

Andre ChandraI would always tell my counterpart that I would need to “sleep on it” and consult with my inner circle before making big decisions. I think the worst thing you can do in the midst of a major deal is to act compulsively. If they really want to work with you, can’t they wait 24 more hours? It’s a red flag if they force you to decide on the spot. —Andre Chandra, I Print N Mail

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