I’m currently in the middle of training a team of people to learn how to better negotiate prices and terms for one of our businesses.
When I came in, the CEO told me that this one account didn’t offer any discounts for his product. He said that they had asked several times but had never gotten a positive response.
For some people, that might have been the end of it, but not me! With one well constructed email I was able to get a significant discount on all of the products that we buy from that vendor, saving the company a huge amount of money over the life of the relationship.
How did I know that I could negotiate a better price? Well, the truth is, I didn’t! But I did know that if you don’t ask, the answer is always no, and I’ve become pretty confident in my negotiating skills over the years.
I’ve put together some Negotiating Terms & Prices Scripts directly from my businesses where I engage in negotiation strategies on a regular basis. Click here to download these scripts to use as a template for your own business.
Of course, it wasn’t always like this. I didn’t know how to negotiate when I started out in business. But then I had some major mindset shifts around negotiation that completely changed both the way I approach it — and the results I get.
If the thought of negotiating anything makes you a little nervous, you’re not alone. In surveys, more than twice as many women as men say they feel a “great deal of apprehension” about negotiating. In fact, men initiate negotiations about four times more often than women.
Linda Babcock, in her book “Women Don’t Ask” asked MBA graduates if they negotiated their salary for their first job. Of those surveyed, 57% of men said they negotiated, compared to only 7% of women!
What are you losing by not negotiating? Linda Babcock’s book says that women who don’t negotiate make, on average, $500,000 less over the course of their career than people who do negotiate. That’s half a million dollars! Another study calculated that women who consistently negotiate can earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.
And, obviously, it’s not just about salaries, either.
Do you remember the car company Saturn? They marketed themselves as being the “no haggle” car company, meaning that there were no opportunities to negotiate; the sticker price was the price.
So is it any surprise then that 63% of Saturn customers were women?? Women will, on average, pay more than $1,300 more for a car to avoid negotiating.
And in addition, studies suggest that when women do negotiate, they underestimate what’s available and end up getting less than their male counterparts — about 30% less, on average.
Now you may be thinking, “I own a business so I’m my own boss! I don’t need to negotiate my salary.” But negotiation is an important business skill, too.
Women own around 40% of all businesses in the U.S. but we receive only 2.3% of the available investment capital. I believe a lot of that can be chalked up to poor negotiating skills.
But the first step in improving your skills is changing your mindset.
Negotiating is a dance
Worldwide, only 26% of women told LinkedIn that they were comfortable negotiating, compared with 40% of men.
The biggest problem is the women tend to value relationships over the bottom line. For example, a female business owner might worry that trying to negotiate a better rate on a service she’s offering to a long-term client would damage the relationship.
One really interesting statistic from that LinkedIn survey is that when asked whether negotiation is more like a poker game, a dance, a bullfight or a tennis match, women overwhelmingly said negotiating is like a dance.
That’s actually a wonderful metaphor, because like a dance, negotiation is a collaborative activity, rather than a game or fight where there is a winner and a loser. If you can go into a negotiation with the idea that you will negotiate until both parties can come out as winners, you’ll be much better off.
Nicer negotiations: Keep this in mind
Are you convinced yet that you need to add negotiating to your list of business skills? A good place to start is with these tips:
- Be prepared. Whether you’re negotiating the price of a car or the price of your next project, it’s vital to go in prepared. Preparation will easily eliminate the problem of women assuming and asking for less in negotiations. Part of your preparations should include downloading the Negotiating Terms & Pricing Scripts so you have a baseline for how you want the conversation to go.
- Reframe negotiating as a fun challenge. Remember the dance analogy? I love to dance, especially with a skilled partner. When you start to think of negotiating as a fun challenge instead of a terrifying ordeal, you’ll approach it with more curiosity excitement and less anxiety.
- Broaden your definition of negotiations. You may think that negotiating is only for big things, but the more you practice asking for what you want and need in less high-stakes situations, the better you will get. Find a great blouse with a makeup smear? See if the shop will take 10% off the price. Want free delivery on that furniture or mattress? Offer to pay cash. Don’t want to pay when your introductory Internet or cable price skyrockets after a year? Call up the company and ask what they will do to keep you as a customer. It all counts.
- Look for the win/win situation. You should never just be after what you want in a negotiation; the ideal outcome is of benefit to everyone. A great example of this is buying a car on the last day of the month: the salesperson wants to make his quota, the dealership wants to move the car, and you want to pay less. Negotiating a lower price is a win/win for all parties. The best negotiators are creative, strategic thinkers.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. One of the best mind tricks you can play with yourself is to say, “What’s the worst that could happen if I ask for this?” I would say 99 times out of 100, the worst that can happen is that the other party will say no. Once you realize that, it no longer feels like the end of the world, and you’re free to make the ask.
I’m thinking about all of this because I’ve created Negotiation Training exclusively for Business Class members that will share everything I know and have learned about negotiation running multiple seven-figure businesses over the years. (Spoiler alert: It’s a lot!) If you’re interested in improving your negotiating skills (not to mention more than 25 other business skills!) Click here to learn more about Business Class and get on the waiting list.
And for a sneak peek into what will be included in the Negotiation Destination Guide, click here to download your Negotiating Terms & Pricing Scripts now!