I went to law school because initially I wanted to be a sports agent. I have always had a passion for the art of negotiation. I think it is undervalued by the average person. Most attorney’s understand it and utilize it when needed, which is likely all the time.
I know from working with my clients that negotiating contracts is a daily occurrence. If you have not come to the point in your business where you feel comfortable negotiating for yourself, I want to empower you to do so. I have worked with sponsored athletes in the past who take the first agreement handed to them, even if it means they’re not being paid for their work. I think that is ridiculous and plan to help as many fitness entrepreneurs and social media influencers gain control of their business and brand. One of the best ways to do so is to learn the major things to remember when negotiating an agreement or deal for yourself.
Here are my top 10, we’ll call them rules, for negotiating a deal without the help of an attorney.
1. Be Prepared before starting the negotiation process:
You should do your homework prior to negotiating anything. Look into the other sides history with negotiations, find out what is important to them and what you think they can part with. If this is a sales agreement, what is their bottom line? You also want to get clear on what your overall goal is, and what the main issues of the deal are. For an expansive checklist on getting prepped check out this PDF from Cornell University.
2. Determine what you are willing to give up:
Any successful negotiator will know what they are willing to give up before they walk into the negotiation. Think of all possible scenarios and determine what you can live without in the deal. After that decision is made, figure out what of those things the other party might perceive as a benefit to them. This is where knowing the other side comes in handy. You will have done the research and hopefully had a conversation or two that will tell you what the other party is looking for, whether they make this clear during the negotiation or not. If you’re willing to part with it, and they view this as a benefit chances are you will get them to concede on an issue you are unwilling to budge on.
3. Increase your BATNA’s:
BATNA= Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. If you have taken number 1 seriously and done your research, and you have a very strong understanding of what you are willing to give up and what you must remain strong in, theoretically you can develop multiple BATNA’s. By doing this, you are giving yourself the power in the negotiation. And, lets face it, the power is really what you want. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Enhance your BATNA’s before the negotiation. If this deal doesn’t work out, fine you have developed multiple alternative deals that can fit your needs.
4. Be Assertive in Planning the Logistics:
This may seem silly, but prior to beginning the negotiation process you want the other party to perceive you as assertive, even if you aren’t. If they reach out asking what time you can speak regarding the deal, don’t respond with a “I am free any time next week.” Pick a date and time and go with it. If it needs to be rearranged that is fine, but the other party will view you as more powerful and then is what you want.
5. Pay Attention to the Language Used:
The way we speak plays a very powerful role in our interactions. I suggest avoiding aggressive and negotiation terminology. For example, words like accept and reject can seem harsh and lead to more aggression from the other side. Try to use words that suggest cooperation such as collaborate and brainstorm.
6. Mimic the other sides behavior:
Similar to the above, you must remain conscious of the other sides non verbal behavior. By mimicking their behavior you will build a strong rapport with them throughout the process increasing the chances of you getting what you want.
7. Don’t put anything in writing until the very end:
This might seem like a no brainer, but it really isn’t. If you are negotiating over a period of days I suggest not putting anything in writing until you have agreed to all terms and conditions. If you sign any type of pre-agreement or mid negotiation document with various terms and conditions, it is likely that a court could hold you to those. So, unless you plan on being held responsible, wait until the end of the negotiation to get it in writing.
8. Be Respectful:
Another no brainer! But really, people like to be treated with respect.I know you want to get in there and aggressively argue for everything you want, and likely so do they. However, being respectful of the other side and what their needs are can get you further in the negotiation process and closer to your goal.
9. Stay Confident:
Avoid using disclaimers or language like “this seems like a lot to ask but” or “would you mind if.” Those phrases show signs of guilt and that you are unsure of what it is you want. Stay confident in what you want from the other side. Remember, you have developed multiple BATNA’s so you don’t need this deal. It is simply a good option that you are hoping works out. You can remain confident and respectful without becoming aggressive or demanding.
10. Now get it in Writing!
If you have made it to the end of your negotiation and have agreed to all relevant terms and conditions, get that in writing! Do not leave any issues open for more discussion. If there are issues left open, you are not done and more negotiation must be had. Both parties need to sign the agreement. Also, it is a good idea to have multiple copies stored in a safe place.
Those are my top 10 tips for a successful negotiation. Remember, you have the power to get what you want when working with other companies. Do your research, know exactly what you want, what you need, and what you probably can do without. Be ready and confident, but be respectful and open. If you have more questions or need help negotiating a contract feel free to email me at email@example.com or contact me through the website!
Please note that this is not meant to be legal advice for you or your situation, this is merely some legal research and knowledge on the given topic.