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Wish, Want or Walk: How to Negotiate the Best Deal for You

Does the thought of negotiating stress you out? Do you jump at the first offer that comes your way, or collapse at the word ‘no’?

A “yes” means it’s time to start doing things differently: negotiating is a life skill, one that women in business must master to keep pace with their male counterparts, who routinely ask for more – and get it.

“The goal of negotiation is not to get a deal. The goal is to get a good deal,” says Corinne Sharp, president of Sharp Perspective Inc., who has negotiated countless deals in a 20-year career in IT, leading sales, marketing and channel teams.

“You’re there to get a job done. You’re there to negotiate the best possible deal for you and for the other person, someone you’re entering into a potential long-term partnership with. If you’re going into it with that point of view, you’ll have a more successful process.”

Men are more likely than women to view negotiating as a game. And it can even be fun, Sharp suggests to the women assembled for a workshop on Negotiation Assumptions, Mistakes and Mindsets, part of the Accelerator for Women in Entrepreneurship (AWE) series at Innovation Factory.

As with most things in life, preparation is critical, she stresses, offering the following guidelines, strategies and tips to elevate your game in any negotiation:

Before Negotiation Begins

Do your research

· Knowledge is power. It’s essential to understand who you are negotiating with, so begin by researching their background and their company. Learn as much as you can about your counterpart’s mindset, motivations and communication style.

· Arrange some pre-calls or meetings with any contacts who can provide insight, and ask lots of questions to understand the kind of deal your counterpart will want and how they negotiate.

Prepare your deal

· Document why this negotiation is important to you and to your business. How will you benefit? Think personally, but act communally – replacing “I” with “we” and focusing on the bigger picture and the benefits to all involved.

· Consider your ask in terms of “wish, want and walk,” Sharp advises. “Your wish is what would be utopia for this negotiation. It’s everything you need and then some; the perfect deal for you and the other person.” Your “want” is what you need; you can’t go lower or give up more because it would be unprofitable, for example. Your “walk” is among the most important things to determine in advance. “If it’s not a good deal, it’s important to walk away – don’t structure a deal that’s bad for your team, your company or you.”

· Also prepare your counterpart’s deal – based on your research, what do you expect them to ask for?

· Finally, determine what questions you will ask to better understand your counterpart’s point of view.

Choose the best time and place for you

· Pick a time and location that will allow you to perform your best.

· If circumstances intervene that could throw you off your game, don’t hesitate to reschedule.

· Practice! Role play with a friend, family member or in front of the mirror.

During Negotiations

Start off on the right foot

· Show up early and observe the room to determine who the power players are by their posture, who’s talking to whom, and other cues.

· Make sure you are situated directly across from the person you believe is the decision maker.

· Take control of the meeting by setting the agenda, stating the purpose of meeting, the process you will follow and the payoff – the benefits – for you both.

Game time

· “Successful negotiations do not begin with a demand or ultimatum,” Sharp stresses. Instead, focus on asking questions to understand your counterpart’s point of view and find out what is important to him or her. Ask: “Is there an alternative solution that can benefit both you and me?”

· The offer is just the starting point. “On average men negotiate a 7% higher salary than women because they ask for it,” Sharp notes, while women think they should be grateful simply to be offered a job. Bottom line? “You’ve got to ask.”

· Try to see where priorities overlap and use that information to reach a compromise. Acknowledge your counterpart’s effort to understand your position and show them a better path.

· Your tone of voice signals your level of confidence. “Even if you’re nervous inside, you have to muscle that confidence,” Sharp says. Often it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Being prepared and practising will help.

· Avoid single-issue negotiations, bundling your requests as a package. And be alert and open to new ideas and information: “If you go in with only one thing in mind, you might miss out on something else that would be very beneficial.”

· Explain why your request is legitimate. Provide facts to support your case regarding price range and skills. Pro tip: No one cares you worked until midnight. They do care how you can impact their bottom line.

At the finish line

· Remember: Agreement is not your end-game. “Every bad deal is a deal to which you have agreed,” Sharp points out. “The goal is to get a good deal.”

· Always counter. Go for what you want, based on your realistic view of the best possible outcome. Present alternatives and explain why your ask is reasonable.

· Sell your ability to negotiate as a good thing!

· Be ready to walk away if you can’t get the deal you want.

· Understand that it’s ok to say you need to go away and think about your decision, especially if you’re feeling pressured.

After the Negotiation

Give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve either gotten a good deal, or you have more insight and experience to get the one you want next ti

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