Offer Negotiations: 5 Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier

A promotion. A salary offer. A flexible work arrangement.

The simplest way to get these things is to ask- and be prepared to negotiate. Negotiating is a handy and practical skill, not just for work, but in all aspects of your life. Not everyone is comfortable with negotiating and most of us probably accept whatever is offered to us in the first place. The biggest reason why we are not asking for more? Fear. Fear of losing the deal or concerned with how the other party might perceive you might deter you from asking for more or better conditions.

Does that sound like you? Well, you are not alone.

Here are 5 things I wish I’d known earlier on offer negotiations:

1. Do your research

Before any negotiation-whether it is for a job offer or better contractual agreement with a third party vendor, do your research. If you are thinking of a pay raise, get an idea of how much others in similar roles are being paid in the same industry or in the same sector. You may also consider speaking to recruitment agencies and doing online salary checkers and surveys to have a gauge of your market value. If you are getting into an agreement with a supplier, how does the quality of products or services offered by them compare to others in the market? Are they overpriced or do they offer better after-sales services compared to the rest?

Knowing the relevant facts will give you a wide perspective of what you are getting into and reason with knowledge during the process of negotiation.

2. Know exactly what you want

“In life, don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”

Don’t go into a negotiation with the aim of only negotiating, but know what you want out of it. When you identify what you want from the negotiation, you are more likely to anticipate a positive response and direct the conversation back on track when it deviates from your desired flow. For example, if you intend to negotiate a pay raise, you need to have an idea of how much you are looking at. Determine the numbers in your head and ask yourself at which point is it no longer worth it for you. Having a goal will give you a sense of direction to the course of your negotiations. Without a clear sense of what you want from a negotiation, it is far too easy for you to be tempted to agree to much less than you could reasonably hope to attain. With a clear goal, you have a much better sense of when to push harder, when to hold firm and when you can agree to an offer.

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 3. Don’t take it personally

Negotiating is a natural part of business. But many of us, especially women, are vulnerable to emotions due to the risk of rejection in negotiations. For instance, you might think that “How can you offer me such a low number when I am worth so much more?” No one likes the feeling of rejection, but it is important not to take it personally. To be honest, it is easy to take things personally as most business negotiations revolve assigning a value on yourself or your product. Keep the focus of the negotiation on the outcome you want, rather confuse yourself with the issue.

4. Trade one for another

In an ideal negotiation, you receive everything you want, agree to everything the other party wants and leave the room feeling like you are on top of the world. But in the real world of practical negotiations, you will nearly always be forced to agree to terms you’d rather not and find yourself fighting hard to obtain the terms you feel are only necessary, minimally fair and appropriate. That is why the most savvy negotiators have developed a “give one get one” strategy to which they strictly adhere to. The idea is never to simply agree to a request from the other side. As negotiations proceed, keep track of the concessions you are willing to make, without openly agreeing to any of them. Then, as you press the other party for agreement to a concession you want, offer one of your appropriate prepared concessions as a “quid pro quo”. Keep asking for concessions in the form of “If I agree to this, will you agree to that?”

 5. Build a relationship

Do not take too much from the table and do not leave too much. Look for common grounds and win-win situations. In the process of negotiation, think about the things you say and what you do that can help you build long-term relationships. An amicable relationship makes negotiating easier the next time round. If you are negotiating with a third party vendor, don’t push too hard and take away every option forcing them to feel resentful about the contract terms. Instead, a good negotiation leaves both parties feeling they received something of value. Besides, head-on conflict wastes a lot of time. Negotiations that expend valuable energy trying to outwit, undermine or defeat the other party benefit neither parties. In short, bridge gaps rather than burn bridges.

We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?

Let us know in the comments and please share this post with a friend/colleague if you enjoyed it!

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