One of the reasons I started my work as a negotiation consultant was that I’d seen a few too many times how the ‘little guy’ can get the short end of the stick in business deals.
Sometimes this would be because a Big Baddy flexed their might, or took advantage of the situation. But more often than not, it’s because upon realizing that they were indeed the Underdog, entrepreneurs and small businesses would shy away from negotiation and instead adopt an Oliver-esque ‘Please Sir, may I have some more?’ kinda strategy.
True enough, you’re not always going to have a whole lot of influence or power in a business discussion (even with folks your own size), but that doesn’t mean you lose your voice.
Today I’m sharing 5 techniques that’ll help bump up your power and amplify your persuasiveness in any negotiation.
When you’re the Underdog, it’s time to…
1) Create flexibility
Giving yourself ample wiggle room and near-endless options in a negotiation is pretty much the Holy Grail of creating power. When you’ve only got 1 or 2 outcomes that are acceptable to you, you’ll find yourself backed into a corner quickly. But – if you can figure out a whole bunch (like…5+) different outcomes that’d still be a-ok by you, you’ll be able to shift power.
For example: Looking to earn $5000 on this project? Consider quoting a bit high (to give discount wiggle room), being willing to split into payment plans (to give timing wiggle room), or have a few alternate proposals in your back pocket (to give content/service wiggle room)
2) Ditch the ticking clock
As deadlines approach, the pressure to close a deal mounts, and you can find yourself saying Yes to proposals you’d normally kick to the curb. Giving yourself ample time to have the discussion and find a solution is key. Having the control over your own business as an entrepreneur will go a long way in helping you put this into place – do you think the Big Guys with their 10 levels of sign off and 4 Exec VPs are able to flex their timetable as much as you are? Nope. Advantage: You.
3) Find your secret strength
We are all special little snowflakes. Each with our own innate talents and skills. And yours may – or may not – be ‘negotiation’, but I’m gonna bet you’re absolutely aces at planning, or research, or relationship building, or problem solving, or keeping your cool when everyone else is losing their marbles. Figure out what your secret strength is and then use it in your negotiations.
4) Call in the reinforcements
Special snowflake status also means that each of us has a few things that we’re not so good at. And when you hit a road bump because your super creative brain can’t seem to keep up with that Cartesian genius of the Other Guy…call for help. You’ve got someone in your network who can pitch in and help you get back on track. Don’t be shy.
5) Leverage it
Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. (Oh! Look at me trying to be all sporty!) There are times when boldly admitting that you’re not experienced in something, or that you feel as though you’re the Underdog will help you regain some footing in discussions.
“I’ve not been through a contract like this before, can you please walk me through it?” is a great way to have the person you’re negotiating with start acting as a mini-ally or teacher for you.
Whichever of these power boosting strategies you choose, the most important thing to remember is that even when you’re the Underdog, you’re not entirely powerless – and tapping into that confidence will help you steer discussions towards where you need them to end up.