Whether it's a contract with a supplier or a deal with an important partner, negotiating is essential to small business success. But if you're negotiating with someone you want to have a lasting relationship with, a vendor, a client or other business owners, you shouldn't negotiate to get only what you want out of the deal. You have to consider the other person's concerns, also, so they'll want to keep doing business with you. Here are some tips to help you ensure a "win-win" outcome that leaves everybody happy.
Make sure you have done your homework. Plan and prepare for your upcoming meeting just like you would any other important event. If you find yourself about to start negotiations that you didn't plan for, like over dinner, try to be polite but schedule a future meeting to give yourself time to prepare.
Start your planning by considering all of the possible outcomes. Try to envision what might happen, what objections the other party may have and what offers or counter-offers they may make. The better you know the folks you're negotiating with, the easier this will be because you will know their attitudes, history, and goals better.
Decide what it is you want. You can't come out with a win/win if your goals keep changing or you don't have a firm idea of what a win for you is. Consider what you're willing to give a little on and what is non-negotiable. Never enter into any negotiations without considering what you are and are not willing to give up. And what, if anything, the other side must give up, for everyone to be happy.
When the big day arrives, listen more than you talk. We all tend to talk too much in stressful situations. Our mind starts to plan and strategize so much that we don't let the other person finish a sentence. Make it a point to listen to the other person and consider what they are saying before rushing in with a response.
A handshake should still be your bond but, make sure someone is taking notes or otherwise recording decisions. At the end of the negotiation, clarify the provisions made verbally and give a good handshake. As soon as possible after the meeting, while everyone is still happy, put the agreement in writing.
The Why Handshake
Your handshake conveys so much more than an initial greeting. In business, it's your first connection with a client or candidate, and it can vastly alter the entire course of a meeting. Establishing that connection before diving into the content of a meeting allows the client or candidate to feel a sense of trust and welcoming the moment they step into the room. It's also the first impression that a candidate or client is giving to you — handshakes are a two way street, and both sides are equally as important.
In fact, according to The Charisma Myth, a book all about personal magnetism, handshakes are so important during interviews that one Fortune 500 CEO once said if he had to decide between two candidates with similar qualifications, he'd give the position to the candidate with the better handshake. Perhaps that seems a bit far-fetched, but he isn't the only one who judges job fit based off the power of a handshake. One study conducted by management experts at the University of Iowa analyzed candidate interactions in job interviews. What they found was that handshakes are "one of the first nonverbal clues we get about the person's overall personality, and that impression is what we remember." We're trained on how to dress for an interview, and we're even trained what to say and how to say it. So why aren't we ever trained on quite possibly the most significant step of all?
Long story short, handshakes are SO important. Especially in sales, a proper handshake can make or break a deal, and as a job candidate it could alter the entire course of your career. And to think that it all starts with this one simple gesture.
The HOW Handshake
I don't have a 30-minute class to show you the art of handshaking, but I do have years of practice and advice from colleagues on how to perfect your handshake. So without further ado, here are five tips for taking your handshake from awkward to awesome.
- Extend your right hand. It's customary to shake with your right hand, so make sure you freed up your right hand before walking into the room and shuffled any notebooks, pocketbooks, or laptops into your left hand.
- A good handshake should be thumb to thumb. Firm and no more than one shake. You don't want to be over-enthusiastic, and you don't want your grip to be so hard that you hurt the person.
- Do not put your other hand over the handshake either – you are not best friends (yet)!
- Eye contact is just as important as the handshake. When you extend your hand, look the other person in the eye and SMILE. Show them that you are present and appreciate their time.
- Last but not least, don't forget to introduce yourself. "Hi, my name is (insert name here)." Showing your verbal confidence along with the eye contact and perfect handshake is the triple threat. It will help the hiring manager, customer, or someone at a networking event recall exactly who you are.
Like anything, practice makes perfect. Walk around your office and shake hands with your colleagues. Practice introducing yourself in the elevator. Or, even try it out on your roommates or family. It may seem silly, but everyone can use more practice in the art of handshaking, and it just might help you seal the deal with a client or job position someday.