Becoming a Great Negotiator: own your value
Two crucial aspect of negotiations are doing necessary external research and doing the deep internal work. If your information is lacking and you aren’t basing your strategy off of a complete picture and, certainly, if you have not done your internal work, no amount of preparation otherwise can salvage your deal.
While the idea of fully fleshed out data informing your strategy and doing the internal work to own it are obviously important for any negotiation prep, they can have the most quantifiable impact when we’re in contract or price negotiations. If you’re talking price—whether you’re negotiating salary or rates for services provided—having a clearly defined price is essential for a successful negotiation.
Have you taken the time to identify and fully own your own value?
If not, doing so before your next price negotiation is imperative. Letting your price get established mid-negotiation is the fast-track to failure. You’re sacrificing your own authority, devaluing your own skills and services, and letting your counterpart establish terms that force you to be reactionary in the moment. Whatever strategy you thought you had will quickly go out the window as your ideal price point continues to dwindle and you lose control.
Take an inventory of the services you provide your clients. Understand the cost of your time and effort. Itemize the results you produce to create as strong of a picture of your value as possible. Then find a number that feels fair and that you can live with and own fully.
At my firm, we don’t negotiate fees. This isn’t because we are looking to be tough. It is because we have done the external research and internal work necessary when we set our fees for the upcoming year to be clear they are appropriate and we fully own them. If the scope of services changes our overall fees may change but not the rate we charge. Although, we won’t offer our clients fewer services than they need and we won’t make less effort than necessary under any circumstances—and we will always provide value that at least equal or exceeds our fees.. We are aware of and stay connected to our history of achieving our clients’ objectives and getting optimum results. Our rates are going to reflect that, we comfortably hold to them and we have no problem if clients who are looking for lower rates chose to go elsewhere – in fact, we encourage it.
That’s what it means to own your value. It has to work both ways, though. You can’t just set a number that feels right or sounds good. Your price needs to be an accurate representation of your value, you need to be able to effectively present that value and then you need to deliver on that promised value. If you can’t back it up you’ll never own that price and it won’t take your counterpart long to dismantle it. It will come off as a cheap tactic and your position will be completely compromised. Your credibility for the remainder of negotiation is lost.
If you find yourself needing to negotiate your rates, you know, in moments of honesty, that you haven’t set them right. If you set an inaccurate number that overstates your value (or the value you can own at that time), the inauthentic negotiator is going to get offended or cave due to feelings of fear or scarcity when the other party asks for a discount. This is when the table banging starts and you get defensive, so that your inaccurate pricing isn’t found out. You’ve positioned yourself in such a way that your entire strategy is built upon inaccurate, half-formed information. Once that load-bearing price beam starts to crack, all of your other prep work becomes irrelevant. You have no choice but to become over-invested in the outcome or to concede and lose credibility and trust.
If you’ve done a fair audit of your own value and you know you’re able to own it, you’ll achieve the same clarity that I have at my firm. You know that what you’re asking for is right and fair. If the other party feels that your asking price is too high, that is their problem. With a fully-informed price point, you can remain detached from the outcome and be confident enough to let that prospect walk away. There will be others, because you’ve identified and fully owned your value.
Becoming an authentic negotiator is a constant process. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered my principles, there’s always more work to be done and new ways to apply the authentic negotiating approach. If you’re open to learning and continually evolving as a negotiator, it might be time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Take my
Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
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