If you’ve traveled much, you’ll know that in some cultures, practically everything is negotiable. In fact, in some places, sellers respect you less if you don’t try to negotiate the price with them!
But in Western culture, the art of negotiation isn’t quite as common. You can’t walk into Whole Foods and negotiate the price of a pound of apples. And while you might be able to negotiate on some big purchases — like real estate, cars, and sometimes furniture — for many of us, negotiations aren’t a common thing.
So it doesn’t surprise me that many women business owners aren’t sure exactly what is negotiable when it comes to their business.
The first step in any negotiation is to be prepared, so before we go any further, click here to download my Negotiations Assets & Interests worksheet — then read on to see just how much you can negotiate in your business!
No. 1 Client Proposals & Freelancing Agreements
Whether you’re providing a service to a client or you’re the client, proposals for project work of any kind should be looked at as just that: a proposal. There’s usually room for negotiation.
Tip: If you don’t like the price on a proposal, ask about adjusting the scope of the work. Some changes might reflect big price changes while others won’t, but it’s always a good idea to ask. Likewise, if a potential client asks if you will negotiate on price, show them what they can get for their budget.
No. 2 Buy & Lease Agreements
Whether we’re talking about an office space, a retail location, or a company car, negotiating better lease or purchase agreements on big purchases and expenses can save your business a huge amount of money.
Tip: If the dollar amount is firm, ask what other benefits or bonuses you can get. For example, a car dealer might throw in free service for a year, or an office space might be willing to include services like internet or cleaning.
No. 3 Vendor Relationships
You might think things like your credit card APR or the transaction fees with your bank are set in stone, but they’re not. As your business grows, you gain leverage, and you should be prepared to negotiate better deals for yourself on everything from credit card fees to cell phone charges to how much you pay in shipping costs.
Tip: If your credit card account is in good standing, you can almost always negotiate a lower rate — for business and personal cards.
No. 4 Cancellation / Refund Requests
When customers cancel or ask for a refund on a product or service, they would often be happier with better payment terms or accommodations. Most business owners simply comply with the request, without ever asking why or how they can retain the customer’s business. It’s up to you as the owner to recognize when a negotiation with your customer is warranted — so that you can create a win/win situation for both of you!
Tip: Simply asking “why” or “What could we have done better?” when you get a cancellation or refund request can open up the conversation.
No. 5 Commissions
If you work on commissions or are an affiliate marketer for someone else’s product or service, you can often negotiate better terms on the commissions you earn — especially when you have the audience and proven track record to back it up.
Tip: Don’t assume this only applies to companies you have a personal relationship with. Yes, you might be able to negotiate a better commission rate with your best business friend, but it’s equally likely that a big corporation will say yes if you can prove that you can bring in the business.
No. 6 Partnerships
Partner relationships are something you should always negotiate. Any time you partner with another person and/or business, it’s important that everyone is happy with the terms at all times. It’s crucial that you’re negotiating not just for your own benefit, but for the health of the partnership as well.
Tip: Remember that even a partnership in which no money changes hands (like a trade arrangement or a verbal agreement between friends) it’s important to negotiate terms that benefit everyone.
No. 7 Payment Terms
Even if you’re not or can’t negotiate the price of something, you may still be able to negotiate the payment terms. Many times companies are willing to offer discounts or perks if you can pay in full up front or pay in cash. In other situations, a company may be able to set up an extended payment plan for you.
Tip: If you’re planning to pay by cash or check, always ask for a cash discount. Lots of businesses build credit card processing fees into their pricing, and may be willing to give you that 3% (on average) as a discount for paying cash.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
These are just a few scenarios when it’s not just acceptable, it’s smart business to negotiate! But there are plenty more opportunities in any business. The key is to be prepared to negotiate and then don’t be afraid to ask.
To help you prepare for your next negotiation, I’ve created a Negotiating Assets & Interests Worksheet for you, which will help you visualize what value you have to offer, what other party wants and needs, and what evidence you have to make your argument. Click here to download it now, and if you want more negotiating tips, check out our entire Negotiation Strategies Destination Guide inside Business Class!