It’s not hard to get yourself an education about negotiation if you’re so inclined.
There are a ton of books written about it by psychologists, FBI hostage negotiators and even former spies—surely one will grab you.
But first you have to believe that negotiating is a practical, required skill in running your authority business.
That it isn’t tacky, beneath you or somehow demeaning to your character.
That negotiating in a humane way—where you’re looking for mutual wins—is an essential part of running a high-end expertise practice.
BTW, it’s no accident that time and again, my top performing clients tend to be good negotiators (or have one on speed dial).
And by negotiation, I don’t just mean getting clients and buyers to agree to your price and terms—it’s about truly understanding the motivations and desired end state of the other party.
It’s also knowing in a deep visceral way what you want and need from the situation or transaction—so you won’t let emotion or fatigue sway you to accept less.
The thing is, if you can clearly articulate what you want and what you’re willing—and not willing—to do to get it, you can often hand the reigns off to a skilled veteran, like say your business lawyer.
When I sold my first company, I led the initial meetings where we talked about what we wanted to build together—the vision for the sale.
Once we had the big picture nailed, I brought in my business attorney and gave him the scope I wanted him to work within (he was a far more experienced negotiator).
At one point the team had a hiccup and I stepped back in briefly to ensure we were all still working toward the same shared vision.
The second I’d smoothed the waters and ensured the relationship was warm vs. adversarial, I exited the detailed discussions (which also gave the attorney some room to maneuver).
Of course, there was a lot at stake and I wasn’t about to mess it up by attempting to do it myself.
But the process taught me the value of looking at negotiation as an integral part of day-to-day business—where you have the opportunity right up front in every engagement to set the terms for your mutual success.
I learned that negotiating isn’t to be avoided, but to be embraced as part of building the relationship.
Not just at the beginning, but all along the way so we all perform at our best and reach the transformational outcomes they came to me for.
So is it worth honing your client negotiating skills? Only if you want to be happily serving deeply satisfied clients…