An influencer knows how to generate sustainable conditions for continued success in business. Instead of always playing hardball and seeking to bully their way through tough moments, they seek win/win scenarios.
Though there will always be value in being ruthless, save these moves for the right moments. Never sacrifice long-term victories for short-term posturing.
Success in business means building relationships and leveraging connections. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to balance between the active and passive principles when preparing to execute a negotiation.
Striking this balance is the key to achieving the conditions you need. Keep reading to dig deeper into the topic of negotiation and how to make the most out of business partnerships.
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Hard Bargaining 101: Understanding Tactical Negotiation Strategies
The following hard bargaining tactics are important to understand if you want to be able to successfully negotiate against aggressive opponents. Many negotiators use aggressive tactics to bully their counterparts into submission.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
- “Guns and Butter” One of the most common aggressive negotiation tactics is to lead with extremely rigid and complex demands and then offering consistent, small concessions. This style of negotiation can be useful but it can also unnecessarily draw out bargaining tactics. There is also the risk of souring a relationship if the grounds for the deal are too far from the initial terms and the concessions fail to match the pace of debate. To avoid being brutalized by an opponent who uses this tactic, stay focused on your goals and what you need to see happen for the deal to happen. Remember that sometimes, doing the dance and going back and forth is what is necessary to reach a sustainable condition for victory.
- “Commitment Problems” First your opponent will say there is simply nothing else they can do or that they only have the ability to negotiate on certain specified conditions. Next, they might suggest they want to discuss things further but their hands are simply tied. At this point, it is up to you to determine if these commitment issues are genuine or if you need to find someone in the organization with greater authority. You don’t need to waste time negotiating with people who won’t at least consider your conditions of victory.
- “All or Nothing” Conditions in your deals should rarely be all or nothing. Taking this kind of hard-line stance is exactly the kind of tactic that can threaten to ruin a business relationship and destroy a deal that may have taken months if not years of planning. In general, do not try to address the all or nothing item directly. To avoid getting sucked into this, do your best to create a counter offer which seeks to better align the priorities of both parties.
- “Risky Business” Occasionally, when you make an offer during a business negotiation, your counterpart will look for you to give something up before they respond directly to your offer. Stand tall. Don’t give up more grounds until you are able to respond directly to a completed counter offer. Stress the importance of reviewing a completed counteroffer before considering giving up even more ground without cause.
- “Suckerpunch” At times, you will find yourself negotiating with someone who constantly makes greater and greater demands seekings to drive you to a clear breaking point. This kind of person is likely not actually listening to your conditions of victory and is instead focused simply on fulfilling their own. Do not give in to this strategy. Instead calmly state that you will only address offers which are equitable and reciprocal.
- “Feather Ruffling” Personal attacks can be very detrimental to business negotiations. They can really ruin a positive working relationship and create an aggressor/victim dichotomy. Though it can be tough to keep a cool and level head when faced with aggressive personal attacks, the calm and balanced negotiator will be able to stay centered and mission focused.
- “Huffing and Puffing” You will very likely run into negotiation opponents who will seek to inflate or otherwise misrepresent facts, figures and what others might call “the truth”. Be diligent when it comes to fact-checking and try to avoid randomly throwing out numbers. During the heat of tense debates, keep a calm head and insist on returning to what can be proven and what is factual. Fortunately today it is easier than ever before to use mobile devices to help verify data points.
- “War of Words” Your opponents may try to threaten you directly or indirectly. The best way to counter these are to speak to them and acknowledge them. You might be surprised how easy it is for people to make threats that they cannot actually carry out. Do not give into a war of words, instead be direct and focus on what it will take to reach a sustainable condition of success.
- “Laugh You Down” You may find yourself debating with someone who resorts to laughing at your proposals, counter offers for conditions of victory. They do this to try to minimize your perspectives and bully you into accepting their own. To avoid this, stand your ground and stay composed. Stick to what you can prove and focus on shifting the conversation to what really matters.
- “Good Cop/Bad Cop” When negotiating against teams it is very likely to encounter people who will take on more and less friendly roles. This classic tactic of hard bargaining is easy to spot and defend once you realize that it is all just a bit of a game. Instead of getting sucked into the emotional drama, stay calm and balanced.
The Successful Influencer: Opportunity Unlimited
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The most successful people see the opportunity in everything.
They know that they are working towards their goals and when things don’t go their way they simply pivot and refocus their priorities.
Even if a negotiation process is struggling and a deal cannot be reached, don’t lose sight of what you’ve already accomplished.
Believe it or not, even failed deals lead to a better understanding of the conditions necessary to seek sustainable conditions for success.
By all means, celebrate victory but don’t languish in defeat.
Never lose your perspective by getting lost in the minutia.
Seek the bigger picture and the 40,000 ft view.
Being a master negotiator means being able to balance the active and passive principles to know when to put on the pressure and when to back off.
If you are the kind of person who only sees value in getting your way, you will find it is very hard to arrive at those much-coveted win/win scenarios.
The thing is, taking the time to find common ground and cause for celebration is really key to developing sustainable conditions to succeed.
The Art of Balance
Every negotiation phase will be characterized by a unique balance of power. Sometimes you will have more leverage and sometimes you may find yourself with less bargaining power.
The key to successfully negotiating the best terms is to always take a balanced approach to capitalizing on your strengths while also knowing when to back off.
Consider the following items as you prepare to negotiate. They will help you to keep a balanced mindset as you work towards achieving your goals and the best possible terms.
Context is Everything
Are you negotiating a single deal or will it have long-term implications?
The context of a negotiation always matters. In general, it is smart to think of the long-term even with people in whom it seems you will only discuss a single deal with.
Remember that success is a long game and sometimes it is better to accept worse terms today if it means better leverage to negotiate from tomorrow.
Pursuing sustainable conditions for victory will allow you to sacrifice ground when it means getting a better view from above.
Take the Lead
When you start high, it creates an anchoring effect.
It sets the stage for all future negotiations to take place. It is always a stronger position to start high and work your way down to an agreeable price than to start low and try to work your way up.
Typically whoever makes the first offer will set the anchor in place for that round of debate.
To get the best out of your initial offer, come out with it directly.
Stick to Your Guns
Have a clear reservation value in mind before heading to the table to debate numbers. This is the lowest amount you are willing to take.
The better you are able to anchor this value in your mind, the more you will be willing to aggressively fight to maintain it rather than be influenced by your counterparts number.
It’s important to always know what a current deal is worth to you. The more aggressively you work to set your conditions in place from the start, the easier it will be for the dust to settle in a way that supports your conditions for sustainable victory.
When people are bonded to each other, they mimic each other’s behavior. Things like the way they speak, the facial expressions they make and how they are postured sitting together become mirrored.
You can exploit this during negotiations by seeking to model your counterpart. Try to match their emotional affect and behavior.
As your behavior mimics your opponent’s you will find that it is easier to find common ground. They will find it easier to see eye to eye with you as well.
Taking the time to build a reciprocal relationship with your negotiation partner is a tried and tested strategy. Not every negotiation series will allow for it, but there is a lot to be said for taking the time to build rapport and get into the head of the person you are seeking to negotiate with.
Knowing this person and building a relationship can help you to see eye to eye and find the common cause for solving complex challenges. Don’t be afraid to take time to get into business. Time spent getting to know your fellow negotiator can really pay off.
Protect the Castle
One tactic which is frequently utilized in negotiation is to try to break apart a huge deal into a million little parts. This can seem attractive but in most cases, it can allow you to give up too much ground unnecessarily.
Focus on coming up with structured arrangements that feature all the moving parts and conditions rather than trying to break things up.
Know which elements of your sticking points are most important and negotiate from those points but don’t give up too much ground right from the start.
The Business of Success
If you are negotiating from a position of weakness, you have already lost. Nobody buys from a desperate salesperson. Entrepreneurs get into trouble when they start measuring their worth by what they see in their bank accounts. Self-worth is the result of completed assignments.
The more you finish the things you start, the more your self-worth will grow, and this will show in negotiations. So before every meeting and every sales call, take cognizance of all the tasks you have completed, even the small ones.
In short, take back your power by creating a special focus on these three things: Come up with ideas on how to become a one-off original; take a sincere interest in the growth of the businesses in your ecosystem; and above all, know your worth.