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Negotiate to Win: The Rules of Negotiating a Great Deal

Updated on March 2, 2011

Negotiate to Win

The book Negotiate to Win, by Jim Thomas, teaches valuable skills that are important in business as well as life in general. Whether you are negotiating a starting salary, or a large scale business deal with serious consequences, there are some techniques you can learn that will help you reach a better deal for yourself or your company. Although the art of negotiating is not often taught in schools, it is a valuable skill that can save a person or a business hundreds, even thousands of dollars over time. This book teaches how to "win" negotiations through the proper use of its 21 rules. I encourage you to read the book Negotiate to Win for more detailed information on each rule.

The Critical Rules for Negotiating:

1. No Free Gifts

During a negotiation the goal should be to come out with the best possible deal for yourself or your company. Giving away things such as money, time, etc. that does not benefit your side is a waste of resources if you are not getting anything in return.

2. Start High

When you make your first offer you should always start higher than your target value. Keep in mind that the worst thing that they can say is no which will leave you in the same position as when you started. There is nothing worse than throwing out an offer that is quickly agreed upon when you know you could have gotten more out of them.

3. Make small concessions, especially at the end!

One way to leave the other party feeling satisfied towards the end of a deal is to make small concessions. Do not give away anything as this would violate rule number one. Instead try to make them think you are conceding something extra to them. One example of this would be a car dealership throwing in floor mats at the end of a new car sale.

4. Crunch early and often

"Crunching" is important to do because it puts some pressure on the other party to come to a decision more quickly by giving up ground to you. Before you know it you will reach an agreement that benefits both sides, while still getting you what you want.

5. Be patient

There is no real time limit on most negotiations. If you are taking too much time they will let you know and at that point it is time to move on. But until that point make sure that you take your time and don't allow them to rush you into a decision. Rushing the other side into a quick decision is a common tactic used by businessmen and car salesmen alike.

6. Remember to nibble at the end

When your negotiation is coming to a close, don't forget to try and add on small things that are in your benefit. If you are negotiating a salary and agreed to a set number already, don't forget to ask about vacation, sick days, stock options, etc. The end of the negotiation is a time where small things can easily be worked in, much like rule number three.

7. Keep Looking for creative concessions to trade

Even if you can't budge anymore on your price, salary, cost, etc. you should continue thinking of small benefits that you can work into your deal throughout the negotiation process. Many times there are out-of-the-box concessions that are easily attained by simply being patient and actively thinking over the course of the negotiation.

Tips on Negotiating with Car Salesmen

The Important/Obvious Rules:

1. Do your homework

Before you enter a negotiation, you should always do at least some research into the numbers that will come up. For instance if you are selling a car, you should always look up its suggested value online just to verify what you should be able to sell the car for. Knowing the true value of something and what the other side is most likely willing to pay for it is important for "winning" your negotiation.

2. Keep the climate positive

It is most important to remain positive throughout the course of the negotiation process. You want the other side to be happy with the deal they get, while also getting yourself the best deal possible. Keep an upbeat attitude and tone of voice while you are negotiating in order to establish and maintain goodwill with them.

3. Remember that everything is negotiable

Don't be afraid to be creative while you are negotiating. You will be surprised at the things the other side is willing to work with you on in order to achieve a good deal. Use out-of-the-box thinking and don't be afraid to ask for more, as long as you do it in an appropriate tone of voice.

4. Never accept their first offer

This is a huge mistake that people with no experience in negotiating often make. Almost in every case you can talk them down at least a little by doing nothing more than shuffling your feet and looking at the ground when they state their first offer. Also, one thing that always works for myself is to ask, "Is that you best offer?" And when they respond with a new offer you repeat the question.

5. Leave the other side feeling it's done well

During a successful negotiation each side will try and makeĀ  sure the other side feels as though they have struck a great deal. Remember to keep the climate positive and to be sincere. You don't want the other side feeling as if they were manipulated or pushed around, this is bad business.

Tips on Negotiating a Salary

The Nice-To-Do Rules:

1. Start slowly

When starting the negotiation make sure that you remain clam and patient. Patience is an important part of reaching a good deal because many times the other side will concede things to you if you only give it some time. Don't rush into an offer or state your "final offer" in the beginning, it will make you look dumb as the negotiation goes on.

2. Set a complete agenda

Before entering into negotiations make sure that you have thought the process through. Try and get an understanding of the other party before hand and also make sure you know what you are and aren't willing to accept. Having a complete agenda is very important in negotiating because you will need to have prepared in order to succeed.

3. Discuss the small things first

At the start of your interview don't jump into the most important numbers right off the bat. Start with the less important things and try to work your way up. When negotiating a salary it is best to inquire about all of the options the company offers as far as stock options, vacation leave, benefits, etc. that way you can build up to the most important issue at hand without forgetting the details.

4. Settle everything at the end

At the end of you negotiation make sure that every aspect of the deal is agreed upon. Loose ends can come back down the road and have a negative effect on your relationship with the other party or even your deal if all the details are not ironed out by the end of the negotiation. Before you agree to the final deal, take a moment to reflect and think of anything you may have overlooked.

5. Use/Beware the power of legitimacy

In a negotiations, the power of legitimacy can be an important tool use for your benefit. You should strive to convince the other party that your terms are a better deal for both you and them by legitimizing your position through the use of solid facts as well as opinions. Legitimizing your offer may be the most important part of convincing them to agree on your proposed deal.

6. Keep your authority limited (Try to negotiate against people with higher authority)

When negotiating it is easier to strike a good deal if you are negotiating with someone who has the authority to make the ultimate decision in the process. Negotiating with those who do not have high enough authority to make the deal will not give you the end result that you desire.

7. Consider using Good Guy-Bad Guy

The "Good Guy-Bad Guy" technique that you have probably already heard of can be a good way to get what you want out of a negotiation. If you begin to show them ways in which you can be both the "Good Guy" by giving in slightly to their initial offer, while also employing the "Bad Guy" by adding in some of your concessions then you may end up getting the deal you want. This technique should not be relied upon as a "go to" maneuver, but instead a good way to the the ball rolling when your negotiation seems to be stalling.

8. Try to have the other side make the 1st offer

This rule is certainly last but not least on the list. Make sure that you avoid making the first offer at all costs. Doing so is the equivalent of exposing one of you cards in poker before the hand begins. If you let the other side open up first by making an offer, then you will know the card they are holding which will eventually lead to you getting a better deal.

Negotiate a Successful Deal

It is true that learning the basic skills to negotiate properly can save you money over time. In the book Negotiate to Win by Jim Thomas, you will learn these rules as well as a ton of other information that will teach you how to properly negotiate a good deal while keeping everyone happy during the process. If you have not read this book or had any negotiating training, I encourage you to order it today.

"The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway."

-Henry Boyle


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    • wsupaul88 profile image

      wsupaul88 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Jim -

      Thank you so much for the comment! I enjoyed the book, it really helped me find confidence in my negotiating skills. And yes, the price that Amazon has posted is not a very accurate representation of what they charge for the book. I would also agree that rules 1-6 are very important. My attempt was to order them relatively in order of importance.

      Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Jim Thomas 6 years ago

      Thanks for the article. Readers should focus on Rules 1-6; work on the others as time permits.

      I only wish the book was $5.99 from Amazon -- I'd buy as many as they'd sell. More like $12-15.

      Jim Thomas