Tia Cantrell’s Business Negotiation Skills FTW


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Alright Rockville business owners, we’re going to move aside from tax-related things today (though there will be PLENTY to talk about as Congressional plans unfold) … and circle back into the nitty-gritty of how business works and share with you some business negotiation skills we’ve learned over the years.

I write about this stuff because I don’t see a business relationship as merely transactional; we’re here to serve and advise Washington business owners in a variety of situations.

Occasionally, we’re pulled on to work through business valuations, M&A transactions, etc. These are inherently complicated situations, of course … and they’re also inherently adversarial.

It sure would be nice if business deals like these could always be amicable, and like playing pattycake … but sometimes business negotiation skills require that you strap on the armor and battle a little. And not just when it comes to buying or selling a business — this adversarial dance comes into play a great deal in the course of a business day.

In which case, I have thoughts for you today…

Tia Cantrell’s Business Negotiation Skills FTW
“Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.” – Robert Quillen

No matter what industry you’re in, or how far you go in your career, the ability to effectively negotiate can make the difference between success and mediocrity.

Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar contract, a job offer, or a luncheon, here are some trenches-tested business negotiation skills that will bring you or any other Washington business owner closer to your ideal outcome:

• Know what you want in advance. Don’t go to the table without a clear, realistic idea of what you want to achieve. It will help you negotiate with confidence.

• Ask for what you want. Don’t be afraid to make the first offer. You’ll set the tone for the discussion, and studies (and my experience) suggest that the negotiator who goes first usually comes closer to getting what he or she wants.

• Understand what your partner wants. A successful negotiation should satisfy both sides. Instead of trying to crush your competition, find out what he or she hopes to get, and try to work together toward a solution that works for you both.

• Don’t concede unilaterally. Usually, one side or the other has to give something up. If you do that, be sure to get a comparable concession from the other person. Giving away something for nothing will be taken as a weakness to be exploited.

• Don’t rush. Time can be your friend if you’re willing to wait for the right deal. If the other side senses a deadline, he or she may be motivated to hold out until the last minute or try to force you into accepting unreasonable terms. Be patient and let the time pressure work against your partner.

• Be ready to walk away. This can take a certain amount of courage, but it’s necessary to avoid being backed into an agreement you don’t want. If possible, keep an ally in reserve–someone with the power to approve or reject the deal. This can give you an out if you need to turn down a deal or motivate the other side to provide you with a better offer.

If you’re a Rockville business owner getting into negotiations and want a little more of our wisdom to help you brush up on your business negotiation skills, let’s chat about it:

To getting things done,

Tia Cantrell
(202) 841-9198

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