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Marketers will not be able to avoid negotiations during their career. And neither should we try to.

There will come many times when having a solid understand of negotiation techniques will serve us well. Whether we are negotiating for a raise or promotion in our professional careers, negotiating advertisement rates or contract terms with partners, or pushing a business case or new campaign on our own executives, negotiating is a part of the job.

So how can you make the most of these conversations? You can learn the do’s and don’ts of good negotiation from the masters who have been in these situations before.

Prepare

Effective negotiators never go into a negotiation blind. They don’t have an innate ability and simply wing it.

They have a well-thought-out plan, based on careful preparation. They have analyzed the details of the negotiation and have identified the factors at play. Where are the opportunities? What are the risks? What is the best possible outcome?

The old cliché holds – if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

Listen

They teach you in acting class to listen to your fellow actors in a scene, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak. The same can be said for more effective negotiating. It is critical that you listen to what the other party is saying so that you can figure out exactly what they want, and respond in kind.

It may be that what you expected them to say was way off. They may be more interested in a certain subject than you anticipated. You need to be able to change course if the talking points shift. And the only way to do that is to listen and react.

Don’t Get Emotional

Emotions have a funny way of creeping up in negotiations of all stripes. And in most cases, they disrupt rather than support the goals of both parties.

A successful negotiation is professional and courteous. If you get emotional, you will have a tendency to stray from your plan. Use logic and keep calm for the best possible outcomes.

Be Prepared to Give Something Up

If you are truly negotiating, you may not get everything you want. So it is important to know what areas you are willing to give in to the other party.

If you are negotiating a contract, determine which terms are the most important to you, and look for areas where you can compromise. You want to make the other party feel like they are getting something out of the deal too.

It’s Okay to Say No

Not all negotiations will get you what you’re looking for. And often, it takes more than one conversation to get there. For that reason, you have to be willing to walk away.

Know what your alternatives to a deal are. Are there other ways to get what you want? Do you have a plan B?

If a particular negotiation takes place over time, spanning several different conversations, or several different groups of people on the other side, make sure you stay consistent and clearly state your desired outcomes with each conversation.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, we would get everything we want every time we want it. Sadly, this is not a perfect world. And so we need to be willing to negotiate.

The best negotiators got to be that way through practice and preparation. The easiest way to improve your negotiating skills is to study the skills and habits of successful negotiators and incorporate them into your own processes.