Negotiation 101: What It Is, When To Do It, and How To Do It Like A Lawyer Would
Repeat after me: negotiating a contract isn’t confrontation… it's a CONVERSATION. 🗣
Something I’ve learned over the last 13 years of negotiating with companies, insurance adjusters, and other lawyers, is that at the end of the day, what’s going to happen will happen – don’t stress yourself about it.
A sign of a good contract negotiation (aka a healthy one) is that one side gives a little more than they wanted and the other takes a little less than they wanted to take.
Navigating through this balancing act, where both sides push and pull, allows you to explore a space teeming with potential, where mutual respect and reciprocity reign. 🤝
But if you’re a recovering people pleaser like many out there, the word “negotiate” might send you into an absolute spiral, which is why I’ve created an entire guide to negotiating that helps kind-hearted hustlers like you keep your clients vibing and your boundaries thriving.
Before I get to that guide though, it’s important to understand what negotiating really even means (it’s not just arguing), learn when negotiating is necessary, and then have a few techniques mastered that you can pull from.
So, let’s get into it. ⬇️
What Is Negotiating?
The word “negotiate” feels heavy to a lot of people. They see that word and immediately think “confront” or “argue.”
But by definition, negotiate simply means to obtain or bring about by discussion (aka have a conversation) or find a way over or through (aka find a mutually beneficial solution).
And guess what? In business, there’s really no getting around conversation.
Healthy client relationships need open and honest communication that seeks to benefit both parties involved!
Will there be times where some conversations feel heavier than others? You bet! We’ll get to those types of situations in a minute, but the most important thing to understand is that negotiating is not a bad thing.
When you learn to negotiate in a way that leads with kindness and respect, you can often win the trust of your client even further.
Now that you know what negotiating really means, let’s talk about WHEN negotiating is necessary.
Common Negotiation Situations For Service Providers
As a service provider, there are some common situations that might require negotiating and it’s wise to be aware of them so that you’re prepared if or when they come your way.
When establishing a new service agreement or renewing an existing one, you may find that you need to negotiate terms and pricing with your clients.
This can include discussing service scope, duration, payment terms, and any special requirements.
As a service provider, there’s nothing worse than your client requesting last minute changes or additions after the agreed upon contract has been signed.
When or if this ever happens to you, negotiation is a must!
While you of course want to serve your clients to the best of your ability, that doesn’t mean that you have to grant every request with a “yes.”
Doing so can lead to major burnout, so learning to negotiate can help you communicate the original scope AND know how to navigate any changes.
Even with the best contracts in place, conflicts can potentially arise while working with clients.
Whether it be over the quality of service, missed deadlines, failed payments, or an array of other issues, negotiation can be crucial to reach a resolution and maintain a positive working relationship.
In business, everyone has their own expectations – especially your clients! Clarifying and managing client expectations can be an ongoing negotiation process throughout the duration of your working relationship.
Ensuring that both parties have a clear understanding of what is feasible and what can be delivered is vital to a successful service-provider-client relationship.
Let’s be real… payment problems are a service provider's worst nightmare. 😣
It’s never fun to have to message a client and say, “Hey, your payment is late…,” but when you’re talking about money missing from your bank account, those types of messages are sometimes necessary!
Sometimes it could be a simple fix of, “Oops! My card expired.,” but other times you may find that your client wants to negotiate payment terms and in that case, it requires real skills to communicate and find a solution that benefits the both of you.
2 Negotiation Techniques to Master
Since it’s clear that negotiating is something that’s very likely to come up in a business relationship, it’s important to have a few techniques in your back pocket that you can rely on when necessary.
As a lawyer, I have two personal favorites that I recommend:
The Sandwich Technique involves enveloping a potentially prickly piece of feedback, negative issue, or a counteroffer between two layers of positivity, hence the “sandwich.”
🍞 The bread = the positive pieces
🧀 The ingredients inside = your constructive critique or negotiation point
For example, let’s say a client’s budget is less than it costs for everything they’ve requested to be done.
Your first piece of bread (aka the first positive point of the conversation) could be something like, “First of all, we're really excited about the opportunity to work with you on this project. Your company has an excellent reputation, and we feel our services could genuinely add value to your online presence."
The inside ingredients (aka your counteroffer) might say, “However, the proposed budget is a bit challenging for us given the scope and quality of work we provide. We typically charge around [insert amount] for projects of this nature. That said, we're willing to explore some creative solutions to bring this within reach for you.”
And then you wrap it all up with your final slide of bread (aka your closing positive remark) that states something like, “We're committed to delivering exceptional results and really want to find a way to make this work for both of us. We believe a partnership could be mutually beneficial and are excited about the prospect of getting started.”
This method helps ensure the message is received with a side of appreciation and forward momentum!
Mirroring is a psychological tactic used in negotiations to build rapport and trust with the other party!
This technique involves subtly imitating the other person's behavior, speech patterns, or body language to create a sense of familiarity and understanding.
NOTE: for this to work well, it must be done subtly and naturally, otherwise it may seem manipulative.
For example, let’s say you own a small e-commerce store and you're in talks with a vendor for a bulk supply of a new product. You notice that the vendor is formal in their language, uses a lot of data to back up their points, and takes pauses to think before speaking.
In conversation, you can mirror their communication style by adjusting your responses to be more formal, provide data of your own, and don’t rush the conversation by welcoming pauses.
This method puts you on the same team as the person you’re in conversation with and can help them trust you more throughout the negotiation process.
How To Negotiate Like a Lawyer
Overall, negotiating doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating and it’s not something you should try to avoid.
Instead, we encourage you to hone your negotiation skills so you feel confident navigating any conversation that comes your way… no lawyer needed!
In the People Pleaser's Guide to Negotiating a Contract, you’ll learn how to turn potential client 'Nos' into resounding 'Yeses,' all while ensuring your boundaries are solid and your integrity is intact.
With a blend of mindset shifts and practical, lawyer-approved techniques, this guide demystifies the "art of negotiation" and proves it's really much more of a science.
This playbook will have you not just surviving, but thriving in difficult client conversations!
And because you made it this far, I’m giving you the guide for free, use code WINWIN at checkout for 100% off the guide.
CLICK HERE to download your guide and show up as the boss business owner that we know you were made to be. 👏🏼