In almost every aspect of everything we do, there is a degree of give and take. Rarely do we ever get everything we want. However, some individuals seem to consistently end up with better results than others. Whether they are doing something consciously or subconsciously, every one is doing some aspect of negotiating on a daily basis. Some are simply doing a better job than others!
In order to be a successful negotiator, there are many things that a designer must do:
1. Do your homework. Expert negotiators always are prepared when they enter in a negotiation. They understand fully all of the needs, wants and limitations of their clients, but also study their negotiating counterpart – the interior design client- in order to understand his needs, priorities, etc. While professionals always enter this process fully prepared, I have often observed the novice simply either ask for too much, not prioritize, make empty threats, enter with an unprofessional attitude, etc.
2. What does your side really need as opposed to simply want? What are the "deal breakers," if any? Have you created priorities?
3. What are the needs of the interior design client? What things do they have more flexibility with, and where is there very little wiggle room? It is important for a negotiator to recognize that there is a need for both sides to feel they did alright in a negotiation.
4. Never ever lie! Many novices exaggerate what their side has to offer, or are even nearly delusional about the "power" their side possesses. Since professional negotiators do considerable homework learning as much as possible about the other paty’s background, history, needs, etc., lying not only doesn't work but casts your veracity in question, thus often creating mistrust and ill will.
5. The best negotiations occur because of relationship development. Experts understand that negotiations are both an art and a science, and while some of the details and analysis may be somewhat scientific, a negotiator must be an artist in terms of building a trusting, open, and understanding relationship. When negotiators get to know each other better, they tend to be able to open up more, and get into more in- depth discussions than they otherwise could.
6. All successful negotiations occur by using a win- win approach. In an optimum situation, you and your interior design client finish the process believing you did well, and extremely satisfied with the results. Develop an understanding of what can be done, and what needs to be done. For example, in being a professional negotiator for over thirty years negotiations, when I have needed dramatic pricing adjustments from a hotel food and beverage department, I work with them to see how they can save money, and thus pass that savings along. It may be by tweaking menus to "tag-on" to another group (thus affording the venue an economy of scale), or by letting the department determine which room works best for them. Your client will appreciate the candor and the understanding of their needs.
One does not become a professional negotiator overnight, and not every one is "cut out" to be involved in negotiations. A successful negotiator must have the attitude, self confidence, perseverance, integrity, and attention to detail to end up with beneficial results.
By Richard Brody
Photography by Kurhan
Richard Brody, with over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience, has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. He has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. He's a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate. Richard has owned businesses, been a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief Executive Officer, and a Director of Development, as well as a consultant. He has a Consulting Website ( http://tinyurl.com/rgbcons ), and his company PLAN2LEAD, LLC's site ( http://www.plan2lead.net ), and can be followed on Twitter