strategic consultant to:  

~ serial CEOs & CTOs in software, Internet, technology & digital media
~ experienced consultants in all fields to maximize their practices

Here is a 4-part series of weekly posts on the Tactics of Successful Negotiation:1) Standing up for your value;2) Learning the pace of negotiation;3) Overcoming your demon voices; and4) Coming from Abundance–the real power.

“Never go to the negotiation table unless you are willing to walk away.”This was my first lesson in negotiating, when I was just starting out.

Later, when I better understood value pricing, I learned the second lesson: you will never get paid what you deserve if you don’t request it, and stand up for your value.

Both of these lessons apply to product lines, service offerings and consulting practices. For ease of language, I will use “your offering” to stand for all of these.

Many sales or gigs are unnecessarily lost in the pitching or in the back-and-forth negotiating on price and terms, because you do not stand up for the value of your offering, and because you will not walk away from a deal that destroys your margins or compromises your ability to deliver a quality result. This is especially true when there is a Big Brand on the other side of the table.

I work with my clients to consistently raise their value pricing for services, or their product pricing, in a steady way until we reach the maximum that the market and our margins will allow.Some of this is in the presentation, the offer, the bundle, the terms, and some of it is in the negotiation itself.

To stand up for your value, you must believe in your value.Sounds simple, but I watch many of my successful clients doubt themselves when the negotiation takes too long (or they think it is taking too long), and begin to talk about lowering the price of their offering, or bundling more for the same price, and otherwise cutting their power and their profit margins.

I repeatedly stop my clients from negotiating against themselves (see Part 2: Learning the pace of negotiations, next week).I make them wait for a response, for an objection, for a counter-offer.I convince them to start with a higher number that is acceptable in their market, and see what happens. This strategy is appropriate because their Big Brand customer already knows them (and their value) and has invited them back for more work, or more products.

My clients are not in an RFP (request for proposal) situation where they are bidding against unknown competitors– they are experts sought out for their services and products.It astonishes me that they doubt their value and their pricing in these circumstances.

But the “knot in the pit of my stomach” as one client put it, is very common.Very few of us have been trained to negotiate (even our Big Brand partners).Negotiation takes an inner confidence (which you can learn –see Parts 3 and 4, upcoming), careful pacing, discipline, and willingness to both maintain your value pricing and margins, as well as willingness to accommodate your client or customer with your service or product.All this can be learned over time.

More on all this again next Friday.