If you stink at negotiation, here's one simple ironclad rule to improve your skills immediately: the power belongs to the person who can moreso afford to walk away.
This one understanding will get you 90% of the way there in ALL your negotiations - whether it's with prospects, suppliers, employees or even in your personal life.
Sure, knowing specific, advanced negotiation strategies and tactics will absolutely help (go read "Getting More" by Stuart Diamond)
But just merely understanding that the highest leverage tool in your negotiation toolkit is "your greater ability to walk away from the deal than the person opposite you" will put you miles ahead of most negotiators.
For example, if you are even (say) 5% more willing to walk away than your counterparty, then you automatically have the upper hand in the negotiation.
And as you know, oftentimes, it's a lot more than just 5%.
So how do you increase your ability to walk away from deals you know are lukewarm (or even bad) - but which you don't have the current ability to turn down?
Simple - you increase your optionality.
By increasing your optionality I mean coming into your sales negotiation knowing you already have a bunch of warm, qualified leads sitting in your CRM so if this conversation doesn't pan out, you can just spin up other conversations.
It's walking into your lease renewal with your landlord knowing that you've already identified several other locations.
It's creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) so that if one key employee leaves, you can easily bring their replacement up to speed (even better is if you cross-train existing employees to do some - or a substantial portion - of each others' jobs).
The more options you have, the less beholden to any one person, organization or circumstance turning out the way you want.
A big enterprise prospect tells you your product sucks and they'll never buy? No problem - you just go chat with someone else from your pipeline.
Your marketing manager (Pat) decides to take a hike?
Go ahead Pat.
Then you pull out your SOPs and plug in another team member to tide things over until you hire a replacement.
Power and leverage in any negotiation starts with being able to walk away. And being able to walk away starts with creating - and then having - optionality.
Don't be afraid to use it.
Originally published at https://www.richmondwong.com