You know how to close a sale, but how about getting to closure when negotiating? In The Negotiation Fieldbook, author Grande Lum, who’s also the founder of a leading negotiation consultancy based in Burlingame, Calif., outlines five smart ways to do it.
- Test the waters. Think out loud, asking “What if” questions. For example, “What if we use the folks in your organization to deal with that part of the project? It’s where you have more expertise, and that way, we can reduce our price to the range you’re looking for.” This is part brainstorming, part evaluation, and it should help reach closure. Primary interests often become clearer when you start “test committing” to options, and hidden interests sometimes become more obvious.
- Provide choices. Giving people choices is a good idea, especially towards the end of the negotiations, where it is easy to begin to feel boxed in. For example, “I could be happy with either option. Why don’t you chose between these packages?” Choices give freedom and power to the other party and help cement a sense of buy-in to the final agreement.
- Use reciprocity. See if the other party is willing to do the equivalent or reverse of what you are being asked to do. If the other party, for example, asks you to pay a penalty of $1,000 per day if you finish the project behind schedule, you could request that you receive $1,000 per day bonus for finishing ahead of schedule.
- Find a helper. Mediators, arbitrators or a third-party expert can help parties who aren’t getting any closer to a decision.
- Cut the pie. Certain negotiations may lend themselves to cutting the pie — a way to divide the value so that all parties walk away satisfied. In this divide-and-choose scenario, one party divides the “pie” and the other party chooses which piece they would like.