“The number 1 rule in any negotiation is don’t take yourself hostage. People do this to themselves all the time by being desperate for “yes” or afraid of “no,” so they don’t ask for what they really want. Instead, they ask for what they can realistically get. I’ve heard many people say, “Well, that’s a non-starter, so we won’t even bring it up.””
― Christopher Voss
Never Make the First Offer
Back in 2011, I bought my first brand new car. At the time, it was by far my biggest purchase to date.
To get a great deal, I did market research and shopped around at various local dealerships.
To avoid making the first offer, I inquired for a quote from all the sellers in my area on the specific vehicle specifications (make, model, color, etc.).
Then I used the lowest price as my starting point.
To decrease the amount further, I asked each retailer to beat the current quotation.
Afterward, that lowered price became the new baseline.
I would repeat this process until no dealerships in the area can go any lower.
After a two-month process, I purchased my car. The money I saved compared to the first starting price was not trivial. Although it took some time for the deal to complete, it was worthwhile since I wasn’t in need of having a car.
Arm Yourself with Preparation
To be ready for the negotiation, you must do some work and obtain the necessary information.
Criteria may include the following:
Understand the other person’s needs and wants
Identify the parties involved and the decision-maker(s)
Have a clear comprehension of your main interests. Examples include:
Define your timeline – when would you like to start the job or complete the purchase
Know your best alternatives
Determine your threshold – this is the minimum requirement(s)
In any negotiation, the first rule to apply is this:
Never give the other party a baseline.
When asked about your expectations, you can simply answer with the following:
“I’m currently looking at multiple opportunities and I can’t give you a number. But I’m interested in seeing what you have to offer. Thank you very much.”
This will allow them to give you a starting point.
However, if their initial proposal is not close to what you want, you can be creative and generate other possibilities.
For example, if the job salary is not negotiable, you can perhaps discuss having more paid-time-off (PTO) instead.
Another potential option may be increasing work performance (two or three) reviews per year. That way you can have more chances to ask for raises and promotions.
During the process, it’s imperative to only discuss one item (salary, PTO, health benefits, etc.) at a time.
If the offer doesn’t meet your key needs, you must be willing to walk away.
This simply means it’s not a good fit.
You can decline it knowing you have other opportunities which are more aligned with what you’re looking for.
Don’t ever settle.
Go for “No”
After given an offer, you should first show appreciation and ask if it’s negotiable.
You never want to accept the initial offer.
That’s because it shows personal disempowerment. Rather, you want to demonstrate you’re someone who wants more out of life and goes after your desires.
This is especially critical if you’re in sales.
To handle the situation professionally, you can say something like this:
“Hey [name], I appreciate the consideration and offer. I truly enjoyed our conversation and feel great about the team and the company. I need to evaluate this based on other opportunities I’m looking at. I will get back to you shortly. As I’m doing that, it would be helpful to know if there’s any flexibility in the base? I look forward to your response.”
They will most likely do one of two things.
1. They’ll say their offer is reasonable but will ask what you had in mind.
2. They would like to have a conversation.
Regardless of the response, you can now start the negotiation process. The following works quite well.
“Hey [name], I appreciate the consideration and offer. I’m very excited about the team, product, and the direction of the company. I know I can make a big impact on the organization. Based on other opportunities I’m looking at, I feel X (and X is their offer plus 15%) is a fair number for what I can bring to this role. If you can match that, I’m ready to sign today and will give my notice tomorrow. I look forward to your response.”
Your counter offer may be more depending on the position level (chief officer, vice president, etc.).
This shows two important things:
You already have an offer that’s better than theirs.
They can see the deal being complete as soon as they give you your asking amount.
In addition, getting a “no” is a great sign in a negotiation. This means you’re pushing the envelope. Otherwise, you’re not getting the best possible deal.
For example, if a hiring manager has $120,000 in his budget for your salary and you asked for $90,000, he would gladly agree to that.
But if you had asked for $130,000, he would have said “no” because it was out of his allowance range.
You can do this through email, over the phone, or in person.
The ladder two options will be more effective since most people find this type of conversations uncomfortable. Hence, you can use that to your advantage by leveraging your emotions.
You can express your excitement if they can make “this” or “that” happen. Let them already envision you as a valuable member of the company.
The other party wants the negotiation to end by making a deal.
To avoid disrespect and resentment after the deal, don’t exceed more than two counter offers.
Maximize Your Earning
No matter what position you hold in an organization, you are replaceable.
Your needs and wants aren’t the company’s highest priority. Rather it’s to maximize profit and its shareholders’ happiness.
To achieve that, your employer makes certain to get the most out of you. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to do the same in return.
Even if you’re satisfied with your current role, you should try to increase your income through negotiation.
To gauge their commitment to you, say something like this:
“I’m really happy the team is performing well. I’ve been passively looking at other opportunities and people also have reached out. There are other openings which are monetarily beneficial for me outside the company. I was wondering what’s going to be in the budget. Do you think there’s a possibility for me to progress here?”
Another option is this:
“I like working here. But I want to feel as I’m moving forward in my career. I want to make sure I’m getting as much as I’m putting in. What can you offer me?”
Being loyal is good, but don’t underestimate your own true worth in the workforce.
Therefore, always be open to other job opportunities.
By simply exploring those options will give you more leverage in your negotiations with your current employer.
It also gives you reassurance of your true value given your talented skill set. This reinforces the abundance mindset that there are numerous choices for you outside of your existing job.
Most things in life are negotiable.
Even though they might not be common practice, you can still ask for it.
An example would be requesting the waiter at the restaurant for free dessert in trade of a boosted tip.
By exposing yourself more to daily situations where you can practice your negotiation skills, you’ll be more comfortable during the necessary times such as asking for a raise or promotion.
Make it a constant practice to implement your negotiations skills.
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