entrepreneur-negotiation-skills

The 7 Negotiation Techniques Entrepreneurs Can Use To Dominate Business Meetings

If you are a real entrepreneur then you know how this Business World works and how it can be harsh sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with people that can be responsible to either grow or destroy your business. Now, the reason I’m addressing this subject is because there are many guys nowadays following their Entrepreneurial path, all locked and loaded with skill along with a solid, professional background and a good business, but lack one important thing…

Business Negotiations.

That’s what I’m going to talk about now.
Because once you’re responsible for your own profits, taking your business to the next level is entirely your duty, your fault, your responsibility. And sometimes this means to “dominate” a business negotiation. Because in order to get what your brand, your hard work, your skill and all your years of studying deserves you need to know how to play this part of entrepreneurship well.

So this is for you to learn how to get the best deal possible out of your negotiations and change conversations back to healthy, productive topics with a customer in a business meeting.
So here we go, my friend.

Business Negotiations.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #1 – MAKE THE CLIENT RETHINK YOUR PROPOSAL BY MIRRORING HIS PRINCIPLES AND GIVING A HOW-TO GUIDE TO HIS GOALS
There are two core principles prospects have that you should consider in a meeting: GOALS & PRINCIPLES. Goals are what he desires to accomplish to succeed (more money, more leads etc). And Principles are his key beliefs, such as honesty, hard work, faith etc.

Ok. So assume that you’re dealing with a possible customer right now who hasn’t closed the deal with you yet just because he doesn’t want to pay you as much as you asked for. He wants you to lower your prices without considering your side of the table. And he stands still in that mental frame because of one reason: He doesn’t actually trust you.

Now, what?
Well, time to strike. Hard.
Look, this is what you should do:

  • TEACH HOW YOU WILL REACH HIS GOALS — By teaching your prospect all the logic behind your work, you naturally have the opportunity to “inject” all the necessary hard work involved to make it. For example, in my case, I’ll TEACH YOU how I’ll upgrade your brand using Digital Marketing if we have a meeting and I’ll make you UNDERSTAND point by point how much work is involved, and all the logic behind each and every marketing technique. So this type of response in a meeting shows to the prospect that you’re not lying and you truly know exactly what you’re doing, how you’ll help him succeed, and how will things turn out. And by doing this, he’ll be much more comfortable with you, trust you more and will definitely consider paying you what you asked him for.
  • SUBJECTIVELY TELL YOUR PRINCIPLES THROUGH STORIES — This is complementary, but just as important to gain trust. Is simple. If you have the chance, tell prospects a previous case study on which you demonstrated courage, honesty or some other strong moral principle that people like in past projects. Why? Because it will sub-communicate to the customer he won’t have a problem getting his money back, for instance (or other moral-related issues). If you play this right, you can build trust almost instantly with a new prospect because people LOVE working with honest, correct, hard working people. Always. So if you know how to sell this part of your business in a subjective way by telling stories, you will mirror his own principles (assuming he’s honest of course) and this will build TRUST faster. And once you gain trust, you very close to sign a deal.

Test this technique.
Only this above will DESTROY most client’s objections he may have against you and it will definitely put you closer to signing the deal. Just remember that this doesn’t kill ALL his objections because a customer can have a simple objection like “I don’t have that amount of money right now”, which is something that is not against you, and that can totally be true for that specific moment.

Now next technique.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #2 – DESTROY FAKE COMPANIES’ PROMISES AND MAKE HIM VISUALIZE THE LONG TERM RESULT
This is a bit obvious but I’ll say it differently, with more “spice” so to speak. Look, any customer wants results. That’s a hard fact. That’s reality, no matter how friendly they are. And there is NO customer in the world who will take your word and believe in you after things went wrong, and you didn’t deliver (ok there is this sort of customer, but they’re extremely hard to find).

So although you may be about to close a deal, you should acknowledge that HE WILL cash in all the promises you’re making him. And if you fail on delivering ANY of those promises, you’ll start a business fight. Hell will come upon you and you’ll start a “but you said” War with your customer. A truly annoying, daily nightmare, my friend. So we would like to avoid that, don’t we?

But why am I saying all this?
Simple. Because there are business owners who make promises they can’t keep. Have you heard of those guys? Sure you did. These are the guys who run companies that make incredible promises and messes up the market by putting themselves above experts without being an expert at all, and therefore, making experts look like amateurs.

The good side is that these companies get what they deserve as a result, most of the times because although they may get a contract, they aren’t able to deliver its promises in the end.

So this is a negotiation technique that allows you to put yourself back in the game, even after the dumb guys messed up with your client’s head by promising unrealistic stuff.

This is why I’m always very rational about this point when I do business and I don’t accept any project that pops up. This is also why I have my own personal development framework, because I don’t assume contracts and make promises I can’t deliver. I know my limits and I know what I’m capable of and I develop myself to constantly break my knowledge limits.

But back to what matters.
So HOW do you beat those competitors who poisoned your prospect’s mind with such absurd promises like the famous “I put your company’s name in the first three results on Google”?

That’s where this negotiation skill kicks in.
So here’s what you can — and should — do in these cases:

  • GIVE HIM THE REAL “COLD BATH” TALK — Your very first step when a prospect comes at you with an argument like “but the other company said it can be done in 2 days” is to logically destroy the crap behind that “argument”. For instance, for the ridiculous promise some companies make promising customers they can put websites in #1 place on Google, there are several arguments. Let me give you some just so you understand this. ONE: Google is a company and it can change its own algorithms and therefore, change a website’s rankings overnight without giving you any notice. TWO: Other companies can be learning more than you about how Google ranks websites, and then discover a new ranking factor others aren’t doing and make an additional effort to outwork your SEO efforts, and therefore, surpass your company on rankings. Get it? So as you can see, what I just said here is both logical AND technically grounded because if you know A LITTLE about SEO then you’ll see I’m right. So this is what you should do, give the “cold bath” approach and destroy any lies your prospect spills in your face that were all based on fake businesses.
  • CREATE THE LONG TERM SCENARIO IN HIS MIND — Now that you got his attention by logically destroying his fake, unrealistic beliefs, it is time to educate him and place the end stage on his mind to power up your sales pitch. So paint the long term picture by carefully giving him the end result of your work, that is actually guaranteed, and sell it. Make the right promises, fix his problems and guarantee his results in a way you can deliver, and explain why if you can. This way, you’ll talk with much more confidence (because you guarantee the results you’re promising) and the prospect will be a lot more comfortable in doing business with you because he’ll just know you’re right and you’re the real expert here. Honesty must go both ways. Always remember that.

Very self-explanatory, right?
So kill any fake promises that can’t be delivered and clean your prospect’s mind first. Then paint the big picture that is actually deliverable. Period.

Ok? Good? Any doubts? Great.
I love writing for smart people.
Next technique then.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #3 – SAY “NO” SOMETIMES
Some clients need to be confronted. They need that “fighter’s approach”, that “hard negotiation” in order to respect you more, your work and your skills/products. I don’t know why but there are some business people and entrepreneurs, who only respects professionals who can HIT BACK and defend their own VALUES right away. I think this is a little masochist way to live the business lifestyle, but that’s reality for some my friend.

Then, for those type of people, a good and solid “NO” can actually end up helping you.
But as you may guess, just saying random “NOs” in meetings without any strong reason won’t do you any good, and you’ll look like a bad person. So you need to say it strategically. It needs to be unleashed in certain situations only to cause the proper positive effect, and with laser-like focus.

So here are a few options for when to use “NO” in a negotiation:

  • THE PROSPECT WANTS A DISCOUNT — You should take this as a personal strike. Why? Why am I being so serious about this? Because subjectively, the prospect is trying to say to you that your worth LESS than what you’re charging him for, and also, that he’s thinking only in HIMSELF, after all, why should you be the one who gets a disadvantage? Besides, if you stop to think about it, there’s no logical reason for a discount. None. Future projects? So what? You can get other projects with different people so if he promises you this, don’t take that into account. More projects in your Portfolio then? So what? You should care about revenue and high-quality projects, and not about how many customers you have worked for. Quality over quantity. So if you’re really good, discounts shouldn’t be considered at all because even Apple itself don’t go with discounts. Their prices are always the same all year long. Grant Cardone also says to NOT discount your products if you want to grow your business too, so as you can see, there’s a common understanding between highly successful people here on this and this is definitely the right approach. Why? Because it’s your WORK’s value here. You spilled sweat and tears for YEARS trying to get where you are right now and you shouldn’t lower your prices UNLESS, for example, you want to help someone who is needing your services/products to get out of a bad situation somehow. Period. But give a solid “NO” in standard negotiations if you hear the word “discount” from the customer’s mouth again because you shouldn’t charge what won’t suffice you. You need money to keep rolling, man. And look, this may actually “insult” the prospect but in the end, he’ll definitely respect you 9 out of 10 times. Why? Because he’ll understand that you charge real money for the real results. The results he wants and expects to have. He’ll know that even if he doesn’t tell you in your face.
  • THE PROSPECT WANTS A 2nd MEETING TO TALK MORE ABOUT HIS PROJECT — Never do this because you need to value your own time. Time is one of the most important things for an Entrepreneur. So if you just had a meeting with someone who at the end of this 1st meeting still hasn’t decided yet if he’ll hire your company or will at least give you a response until a certain date, then forget about that prospect. Throw his card and contacts away and move to the next person who wants a meeting with you. Why being so harsh? Because this “2nd meeting” thing is laziness on his part, and he’s not doing his homework before coming to talk with you and that can drain your work hours, your creative hours etc. Keep in mind that one meeting is enough to answer all key questions, cause good first impressions and give much more ground to the customer if he truly wants to do business with you and hire your expertise. The “leftovers” a meeting can generate, like unanswered questions and similar tasks, can all usually be addressed later by email. So make the prospect understand from day one that he’ll have ONE meeting with you if he wants to talk about his business project because your time IS money, my friend. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re responsible for turning your hours into revenue, so please understand that. You could be reading books, articles, writing, speaking, building another part of your business and doing much more with those meeting hours, so value your own time because it does make a difference. This will show him strong professionalism on your part and you’ll force him to not make another request like this without doing all his homework beforehand. The only exception here would be if you did a short meeting and it wasn’t possible to cover all subjects/questions, but in that case, you shouldn’t even have scheduled that meeting in the first place. So say a big “NO” to second meetings. Force him to make the necessary decisions or don’t take his project. Business is for serious people.

Value your time, this is what you must learn here. The time invested on reading books and working hard on your own stuff must always be rewarded somehow. Always. And the next hours from the next years you have ahead of you should be protected at all costs as well, so remember to treat your time like gold.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #4 – TRADE THE PAYMENT FOR OTHER BENEFITS BESIDES MONEY
I’ll start by telling you that I don’t use and never have used this approach, even when I started my business years ago. But it is an option for those who are a little bit insecure with their own skills and are short on confidence.

Ok, this is how this works.
If you are negotiating a contract with a customer and you know you’re worthy of being hired, and you know you can take that project and kick ass, and at the same time the customer can see all that but he’s fighting you because of your price, you can consider these points below as payment options:

  • PORTFOLIO — You can lower your prices if you want a certain company/project featured in your portfolio. It is a choice some entrepreneurs make at an earlier stage, but as I said before, I personally don’t prefer to do this. I prefer to maximize my skills and expertise so I can get it naturally. But it is a card to use to get that contract you want sometimes, if the company is willing to do it.
  • MARKETING — This is a bit unusual but it does work because I’ve seen it before in action. The idea is simple. You lower your price and the customer has to PROMOTE your brand somehow, like with posts in social media saying something good, truthful about your brand or about past projects experience with your company for a limited amount of time (of course). This can boost your brand awareness really FAST if you do it often, and it also takes your social proof to the next level. If you do this with many customers, you can sometimes get incredible results.
  • COMPANY’S GOODS — A little rare to happen, but in case you deal with a company you like to buy from, then maybe you can trade part of your payment for “free” products or a VIP pass in a certain number of events. Not everyone does this, but it’s an option on the table sometimes.

These are the best 3 options I would consider for myself that I know it works. For some entrepreneurs, sometimes putting money aside and focus on other benefits like marketing or great brand exposure is the best deal. And although you may charge less than you usually charge, this can quickly open new business opportunities and increase your networking levels. So have fun.

Next technique.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #5 – ABORT THE NEGOTIATION
There are situations where getting to a common understanding in the meeting is like fighting World War 3 with sticks and stones, and that’s due to several factors. Things like client’s stubbornness, indecisive behavior, unequal benefits and more. And sometimes there’s no way out of it for you. You either spend more hours trying to get somewhere with your prospect or you leave the negotiation table without any remorse. Those are usually your 2 choices.

I’ll approach the “just leave” part first.

OK. Acknowledge that sometimes you MUST leave the negotiation. (remember the value of your time part?)
But why? Because there are people who think they always need to “win” in a negotiation, they always need to be on top, so why bother and waste your time? Right? So if you realize you’re dealing with this type of person, just leave. Period. Because there’s no ROI that can compensate that sort of person working with you and not even HUGE loads of money will worth more than a peaceful mind in the end.

So be wise.
But this is not the technique, this was just a smart warning tip you should follow.
The technique comes next.

OK. So there are those prospects who need a push somehow to go to the next level in a negotiation. Have you met those? Those who break under pressure (in a good way) and make the decision they need to make right after you push them a little bit? Yes. For THIS kind of customer, who needs a push every once in a while to make a braver decision, I recommend you to stay in the meeting and use this technique.

The technique is very simple and it goes like this:

JUST GET UP, THANK THE CUSTOMER AND START LEAVING THE MEETING

Period. Easy, huh?
But you must do it right. Your body language needs to hide your real intention behind this move because with that immediate action right in a middle of an impasse, you’ll cause a sense of loss to the customer and he’ll make the necessary decisions to get into an agreement with you because he doesn’t want to lose you. He’ll fall into “guilt mode” and see himself as a slow, fear-based person and he’ll probably get a little angry with himself and then use that momentary anger to unlock the negotiation. That’s how these type of people usually works.

I only use this technique when I see that the customer is taking too long to make up his mind about something, and I know he has a great project, a good promising future, and that he knows he needs a certain push to go to the next level.

But of course, you gotta be willing to lose that contract if things go sideways, but that’s an affordable risk to take in comparison to the hours that customer can suck out of your day for no reason.

So make harsh decisions.
They’ll pay off.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #6 – PRICE OBJECTIONS DISARMAMENTS
The most common thing businessmen fight for an advantage in a negotiation is usually price. Deadlines…OK, you can work around that. Personnel….OK. Contract clauses….OK too. But PRICE is a totally different story. People want more money and they don’t like to lose it, especially in a negotiation where there’s that “social pressure” for winning. So this is a bit of a nightmare because no one wants to leave money on the table (why do you think this expression exists?).

So what I’m going to give you now is the possible disarmaments you can apply in response to certain common pricing objections you may face in a business meeting with a customer. There’s no tricky stuff, just logical, smart reasoning to defuse all arguments a customer may be throwing at you with the intention to take money away from you.

OK. Here are the possible ways to disarm your prospect:

  • “YOUR PRICING IS WAY ABOVE THE MARKET” — Here the exact response you should give is “My service/product is also above the market”. Leave no breach for discount digging here or else the customer will slowly deconstruct your price and make you charge less than you actually deserve. Strongly stand for your quality work and demonstrate that you can guarantee his results. Period. That’s all he needs. And that’s all he truly wants. Because sometimes insecurity kicks in and he’ll want to test how you stand for yourself to feel comfortable with you so he can buy with a peaceful mind. So give him this level of assurance because at least in 80% of the occasions, the customer is doing this to see if you have any sort of insecurity. Kill it. Prove him he’s dealing with a monster in business. PS: A key tip – The right customers will pay the price without questioning. Promise.
  • “I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY RIGHT NOW” — Here you must strike with value proposition. For example, assume you’re selling a sales training program to a prospect who is short on cash but wants to truly change his life. When in that situation, bombarding him with deep questions that will make him realize where he is right now is a must for you, and you should ask him key questions that will shake his mindset. Questions such as: “Don’t you want to learn the secret of sales from the real Masters and change your sales game in WEEKS?!”, “How long can you still endure your current situation? Knowledge changes situations so take action and change yours now.”, “What would you do with $1.000? Probably not much. But what would you do with a $20.000 knowledge?”. These are a few examples of how you should strike because changing the customer’s mind about the level of VALUE you’ll provide him with your product/service, is what will change his mind towards your solution and therefore, will change his buying intent. And yes, sometimes the customer doesn’t actually have the money to pay you. It happens. People are not always rich or stingy. Which is why I recommend you to open your pricing to the public whenever possible. That way, you don’t lose time in worthless meetings with customers who will only talk without buying anything. So whenever he has the money, and you have the service, all you need to do is make both of you to match.
  • “I NEVER PAID THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR THIS BEFORE” — A little annoying statement but that you can defuse with a simple question: “Have you gotten a GREAT ROI before with all those cheaper services/products?”. This will totally destroy the attempt being made by the customer to lower your prices or reject you because you’ll put him in a tight place, where he’ll have nowhere else to go except admitting he didn’t get what he wanted from your competitors. That’s a fact. Because after all, he’s talking to you right now trying to hire you, isn’t he?

Take these techniques and use them in your negotiations, and see how it goes.
OK. Next and final technique.

NEGOTIATION TECHNIQUE #7 – THE 5-SECOND SILENCE + CUSTOMER’S REQUEST REPETITION
Have you had a meeting with a prospect on which you got uncomfortable by his high hopes on your work, expecting from you totally impossible, UNREAL results that has no logic involved while he tried to get as much from you as he can, meaning, without wanting to pay the right price? It happens. And it’s definitely annoying.

There are people who will come to you without knowing not even 2% of how the market they’re hiring works but likes to argue with you about it. Every once in a while you’ll truly bump with this sort of client. I remember back in my developer days in websites like Up work, when jobs posted had this exact description:

CUSTOMER: “I need a Social Network just like Facebook.
The deadline is 30 days from now. I will decide the color scheme later.
Budget is $400.

Thank you”

Now, what do you say to that?
You say NOTHING. Just pure Silence for 5 seconds in response and then complete with the repetition process:

“A Facebook in 30 days for $400?”

And if you really have balls you can stretch that time up to 15 seconds! This is what you should answer back in return to such absurd request you just got from a prospect. That’s what this is for, to destroy unbelievable task requests you got in a meeting with a subjective “dude, think about what you’re asking me here”.

But let me explain with a little more depth how to actually apply this technique:

FICTIONAL SITUATION
1. The customer is having a conversation with you about his project.
2. He then asks you to deliver inexplicable results.
3. You wait until he finishes his sentence.
4. You stand still, looking at him for 5 seconds OR MORE without saying a word.
5. You repeat his request to him with a “this is ridiculous” look on your face.
6. The client will notice he made a stupid work request, get embarrassed and apologize.
7. You continue the meeting normally.

Sometimes this is necessary to continue a healthy business meeting. Seriously.
Because certain customers think that because they read 2 articles and spoke with a trainee for about 30 minutes, they now know everything about your field, so making such orders to you is normal to them, in a certain way. And most of the time, it’s not even their fault because it happens a lot that this type of customer ends up meeting first those companies that constantly lie to prospects, that ignore the absurd orders the customer is making them just to get the contract signed and therefore, the customer’s money.

This leaves you in a tight situation because “other experts” have made promises that aren’t real in the field. So why the customer would now acknowledge he’s mistaken and you’re the one who’s right? He’ll first judge you and your skills, based on false premises and grounds if you say he’s mistaken.

You see the problem here?

But there’s salvation.
Because there’s one key point here in this:

CLIENTS WHO MAKE ABSURD REQUESTS TO COMPANIES KNOW THEY DO THAT

So the goal is to never enter into a discussion or try to deconstruct everything the customer throws at you, especially those absurd ones, but instead, use Silence + Repeat his request to make him realize that he did it again. He asked for something unreal to accomplish. Make him realize that with this technique.

Next — if he’s reasonable — he will apologize for his out-of-control behavior. He knows he has the characteristic of asking the unthinkable, and this keen response from your part will show him that once again, he crossed the line.

This is very effective, if your timing is perfect.
The only problems are if the customer strongly believes his nonsense can be done OR if the thing he’s asking is too technical, like the “put me in 1st place on Google” thing. But certain absurds like “build me a house in 2 weeks” are totally approachable by this.

And in case the client is too stubborn and he doesn’t believe you at first hand, you know what you have to do, right? Execute Technique #2.

CONCLUSION
Negotiations are hard, sometimes very complex, stressful and you are not going to win them all, face it. But, by practicing what I’ve shown you here you can always control the situation most of the time without getting stressed or lost in the situation. So own the meeting you’re in, if you wan to make your business life much easier.

Master your negotiations.
Take care.

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  • Morgan

    These are some great pointers! You bring up a lot of valid points that should be considered when negotiating. Nice work! Thanks for the suggestions!