Strategies and Tactics for Small Business Negotiations

Jeff Cochran


Small Business NegotiationSmall business owners face numerous challenges, and most of them need to wear many hats during the earliest days of their companies. In many cases, it’s necessary for a small business owner to be just as comfortable behind a cash register serving customers as sitting at a bargaining table negotiating with potential business partners. They must also contend with marketing issues, maintaining cash flow, managing overhead, and hiring and training new employees.

In virtually every one of these and many other scenarios small business owners will face, negotiation tactics will come into play. It’s necessary for modern small business owners to understand the elements of negotiation and implement effective negotiation strategies in every aspect of running their companies, eventually becoming savvy negotiators themselves. Learning effective negotiation strategies is essential for any small business owner.


Know Your Objective

The average small business owner can likely list at least a few ongoing objectives, immediate objectives, and long-term objectives when it comes to running their businesses. One of the most important elements of effective negotiation is knowing your current objective and gearing the negotiation toward helping you accomplish that objective. However, it’s vital to maintain a clear understanding of the big picture and not become too focused on an immediate objective, such as closing a sale, that one becomes fixated to the point of developing tunnel vision.

One of the most common negotiation mistakes small business owners make is sacrificing long-term success for short-term gain. An effective negotiator will know when a win-win is possible for both sides of the bargaining table, when to be more aggressive, and when to back off because they understand the bigger picture and remain faithful to their objectives.


Preparation Is Crucial

Never run into any type of negotiation unprepared. While some negotiations may unfold unexpectedly, it’s a good idea to prepare whenever the situation allows. This is a multifaceted concept. Preparation involves the research you conduct on the other party, their needs, goals, and what they can offer your business before negotiations take place. However, it also applies to preparing yourself before responding to the other party’s proposal or responding to a counteroffer to your own proposal. Prepare before sitting down at the bargaining table, but also take to prepare before every one of your responses.

Whenever possible, conduct research on the other party prior to negotiations. Digging in the right places can reveal all kinds of opportunities for you to strengthen your bargaining position and achieve more desirable results. While negotiating, remain cool and take your time before responding so you can articulate your thoughts appropriately and steer the conversation in a favorable direction.


Never Be Intimidated

Small business owners will need to quickly adjust to facing aggressive bargaining tactics. Many negotiators believe aggression is the key to getting what you want, and this approach is more effective than you might realize. If the other party has taken the time to negotiate with you, then you must have something to offer them. Don’t be intimidated by strongarm negotiation tactics and give ground when you don’t need to make concessions. A small business owner who encounters unexpectedly aggressive negotiation tactics from another party should think carefully about why the other party might be taking this approach; your analysis could reveal a valuable insight and actually strengthen your bargaining position.

Too many small business owners fall into the trap of feeling uncertain in the face of an aggressive bargainer. If you encounter this kind of situation, maintain your confidence, and do not allow yourself to appear shaken or easily swayed; this will only cause the other party to press harder. Show the other party you are unphased and aim for creating a win-win scenario instead of  just “winning.” Responding with aggression of your own will likely lead to a breakdown of negotiations and neither side will get what they want.


Understand the Roles of Perception and Emotion in Negotiation

One of the most important negotiation strategies for any small business owner to develop is the ability to discern how the other party perceives one’s bargaining position and displaying appropriate emotional responses. The way the other party perceives you will strongly influence their participation in the negotiation. When your emotional responses indicate that you are passive, disinterested, or aloof, the other party may take this as an insult and negotiations will begin to break down. The same thing might happen if you demonstrate overconfidence, arrogance, or bullish negotiation tactics.

When you demonstrate a cool, calm, and collected attitude you are generally perceived as someone with a solid bargaining position. The other party will recognize this and likely aim for the same type of win-win scenario you want to create. Vocal tone, body language, and emotional displays are all crucial elements of any kind of negotiation, and all parties involved will make various inferences based on these variables.

These tactics may seem like basic negotiation principles, but it is incredibly common for small business owners, especially new ones, to put them into practice effectively. The right small business negotiation strategies can make a tremendous difference in a small company’s early growth.

Why Your Sales Team Should Consider Attending a Negotiating Seminar

Andres Lares


Sales TeamIf you manage a team of sales representatives, keeping their skills sharp should be a constant effort, and new training techniques can help your sales team hone their negotiation skills for any industry. A negotiating seminar can be an incredible learning experience for any sales team, but it’s important to have some idea of what to expect if you would like your sales team or negotiation group to attend one.

Attending a negotiating seminar can not only help your team negotiate more effectively, but also better understand the fundamentals of negotiation and put them into practice more naturally. Negotiation may follow a framework, but every interaction and negotiation will play out differently. Ensuring your sales team can adapt to different situations and effortlessly implement various negotiation techniques will help you achieve more successful outcomes with your future negotiations.


What to Expect from a Modern Negotiating Seminar

Heavy-handed negotiation tactics are no longer the norm in modern business dealings. While authoritative and even aggressive business tactics may have been the industry standard, today’s negotiations require more diplomacy and forging personal connections. If you decide to send your team to a sales training program or a negotiating seminar, they should learn how to hone the fundamentals of more effective negotiating:

  • Preparation prior to the negotiation and taking time to provide measured, calculated responses during the negotiation. Some sales negotiators may become too focused on a specific result to remain flexible during a negotiation, while others may seem stunned or at a loss for words if the other side “goes off script” with a suggestion they didn’t expect. Knowing the opposition before entering a negotiation is an incredible advantage and knowing how to formulate a proper response before blurting out the first thing that comes to mind is another.
  • Probing for additional information and learning how to draw out the other side’s true intentions during a negotiation. It’s not uncommon for someone at the negotiation table to be very withholding when it comes to their intentions. Learning how to effectively probe for information before and during negotiations can help avoid Win-Lose or Lose-Lose scenarios.
  • Proposing terms that, if accepted, ensures all participants in the negotiation step away from the table feeling like winners. A negotiation seminar can teach your sales team how to craft more effective, well-rounded proposals that speak to the other side’s needs and expectations rather than simply selling your own side of the offer.
  • How to effectively work toward Win-Win scenarios. Modern business requires networking, and a skilled negotiator should not only be able to walk away from the negotiation table with a positive result but also having made a valuable connection that can open the door to future opportunities.

A solid negotiating seminar will not only teach your sales team how to negotiate more effectively but also how to build value for your organization through more successful negotiations. These programs can also help your team identify gaps in their negotiation skillsets so they can grow into more effective members of your organization and provide lasting value.


What Changes Should I Expect to See in My Team After They Attend a Negotiating Seminar?

If time permits, sit down with your team to discuss lessons learned during the negotiating seminar. Find out what they felt was most helpful and what they felt the seminar was lacking, if anything. You should expect to hear positive feedback about the experience and how they think it helped their negotiation skills.

Once you have discussed everything learned during the seminar, start looking for your team to put these lessons learned into practice. Consider participating in their negotiations or sitting in on phone calls with potential customers to see how they put their newfound tactics into practice. Try to determine which steps your negotiation group members have taken to correct their known weaknesses in their negotiation tactics and how they respond to unexpected variables.


Negotiating Seminars Can Be Incredible Investments in Your Sales Team

The goal of any sales team is to build value for the organization. Negotiation skills are essential for any sales professional and building upon those skills over time is inherently a long-term investment into the future of the organization. Negotiating seminars are great training tools that allow your negotiation group to learn from seasoned professionals, sales leaders, and even psychological experts who can help them better understand the fine machinations at work during every negotiation.

If you are interested in ways to improve your team’s negotiation skills, take time to investigate negotiating seminars and what they could offer your sales team. Building confidence, learning how to conduct proper opposition research, and preparing effectively can help your negotiation group not only have more successful negotiations but also more personable ones that could potentially lay the groundwork for valuable and long-lasting professional relationships.

5 Qualities of the Best Negotiation Training Courses

Andres Lares


Best QualityNegotiation training can offer tremendous benefits to virtually any organization. Regardless of whether your company offers products and services to other businesses, consumers, or both, your team could learn valuable skills and expand on their existing negotiation skillsets by participating in the best negotiation training courses. More extensive self-assessment, exposure to new negotiation concepts, and better sales outcomes are just a few of the potential benefits of investing in the best negotiation training programs.

If you are interested in having your team participate in any type of negotiation workshop, it’s important to know the essential qualities of the best negotiation training courses. These courses are an investment, so be sure you get your money’s worth and choose a program that addresses your organization’s unique needs. Look for the following qualities as you narrow down your search for the best negotiation training solutions for your team.



Consider the size of your team and the scope of training you want them to experience. The best negotiation training program for your organization may be very different than the best option for one of your competitors. Be practical as you determine which option would be the best negotiation training solution for your team. For example, if you run a small operation with only a handful of sales representatives, a massive classroom-oriented workshop may not be an ideal investment. Similarly, if you intend for every member of your organization to participate in the training program, make sure the provider offers the right course formats to meet your needs.

You may also need to juggle some logistics to make sure your team experiences the full range of the negotiation training solutions you choose without sacrificing productivity. For example, if a training provider offers a series of three half-day courses in a program, you should try to arrange half of your team to participate in the sessions while the other half remains on-task with business operations, and then switch so your productivity doesn’t take a significant dip during training.


Customization Options

Some boxed programs can offer insights and effective training, but they may not address industry-specific pain points your team experiences on a regular basis, and they may not offer the type of training you expect. For example, if you have a seasoned team of sales representatives who simply want to strengthen their negotiation skills, you probably don’t need entry-level negotiation training modules.

The best negotiation training courses offer their clients the ability to customize their training programs to address specific issues and provide learning opportunities geared toward specific business objectives. Find a provider that allows you to tailor your training program to your business’s specific needs and goals when it comes to strengthening your negotiation skills.


Simulation-Driven Training

One of the best ways to learn is by doing. The best negotiation training courses offer some type of hands-on training modules and not simply instruction-based training. Simulations are incredibly effective when it comes to honing sales negotiation skills. If you want your team to have the best negotiation training experience possible, you should find a provider who offers the chance to put new concepts into practice in simulation exercises. It’s likely that most members of your team have completed some form of business school already, so basic lecture-style training will only offer so much in terms of growth and expanding on your team’s existing skills.


Experienced Training Facilitators and Instructors

If you’re going to invest in negotiation training for your organization, you want to work with the best negotiation training instructors and facilitators who can address your team’s unique needs and goals. As you search for the right provider, pay close attention to their credentials and professional experience. Most of the best negotiation training courses involve instructors and facilitators who have years of experience and success behind them in sales, influence, corporate leadership, and various other important topics.

Take time to research potential providers and look at past client testimonials and reviews on third-party sites like Google. These reviews can provide a tremendous level of insight and allow you to gain a better understanding of what it will be like to work with a provider before committing to expensive training courses. The best negotiation training courses should offer everything from entry-level sales training for representatives fresh out of business school to executive education for the highest levels of leadership in your organization.


Objective-Driven Training

If you want your team to learn the most effective negotiation concepts and put them into practice, a general overview of negotiation simply won’t suffice. You should invest in a negotiation training program that offers objective-driven instruction. This means every module of the learning path should gear toward accomplishing specific goals rather than offering generic advice. The best negotiation training courses will identify your team’s pain points and opportunities for growth and then provide objective-driven learning tools to help your team meet a wider range of situations with confidence.

Take your time to find the best negotiation training solution for your team. This is an important investment, so you want to do extensive research before committing to a program. If you take time to find a solution that addresses your unique business goals, you’ll find the investment well worth the time and expense in the long run.