This post is all about negotiation and persuasion. Of course, one blog post isn’t going to teach you everything you need to know about these very important business topics… It simply isn’t possible. But it will teach you the single most important thing you need to know in order to be persuasive and negotiate to your advantage.
The very first thing I want you to understand is that this technique is not slimy. I am staunchly against persuading people to do things that they don’t want to do, or that won’t benefit them. This is a way you can get your heart aligned with your goal, just as much as it is a way for you to persuade and negotiate with power.
I also want you to understand that this is not just for “sales” conversations. Persuasion and negotiation are present when you’re looking to create guest posts on blogs, get media coverage, negotiate promotions, get sponsorships, and even buying products and services like advertising. Essentially, any time you are looking to create an exchange of value – you get value, they get value – persuasion and negotiation are necessary.
Now that we have those “disclaimers” out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What is the single most important thing you need to know to negotiate or persuade in your favour?
How to gain the “Power Position.”
And what exactly is the “Power Position”? That is the position at the negotiating table that holds more (or most) of the power.
Let’s explain with an example.
Imagine you’re in the market to buy or lease a new house – a situation most of you can probably relate to. You scan the ads, and there are only a few properties available that fit your needs. Real estate experts are calling it a “sellers market” because of low inventory and high demand. (Okay, so we’re also pretending that it is 2007…)
You go to view one house in particular, and you fall absolutely in love with it. It is everything you need, everything you want, and then some! You cannot see yourself living without this house.
Now, it already has other offers… So you’re going to have to increase your offer and come in with no subjects/clauses in your contract if you are even going to have a chance. You offer $20k over asking price, make sure your financing is good to go, waive the inspection, and even write a personal letter to the sellers hoping to persuade them to let you buy the house.
Who holds more of the power in that situation?
Is it you, who is competing against other buyers for a chance to move in? Is it your realtor, the go-between-negotiator who is likely profiting like a crazy person in this market? Is it even the other realtor, who can persuade the owners to take one deal over another?
No, no, and no. The sellers are in the Power Position in this case. They have something that is in high demand, and can pretty much dictate the circumstances of their sale. They don’t have to do much negotiating or persuasion at all, they just have to let their house (their offer) do the work and then choose from the available options.
This is the position you need to achieve to be a powerful negotiator and persuade people.
You have to have something that your target customer or partner really, really wants. Something that they would be absolutely stupid to pass up on.
There are 6 primary ways of doing this:
You’ve probably seen this at work in your own life. Have you ever received a favour from someone, something as simple as having the door held open for you, and felt obligated to do something in return – like saying “thank you?” That was reciprocity at work. You want to do something of value for the person or company you wish to persuade, out of the goodness of your heart and a genuine desire for connection. This is incredibly powerful, so it must be used consciously and with integrity.
You see this online all the time. Only X number of copies, only for the first X customers, etc. If you can apply scarcity to your offer in some way it will help you in your persuasion process. Exclusivity is tied to scarcity – if you are only willing to do X for a specific person and no one else, it will motivate them to take you up on the deal. Again, be sure to use this consciously and with integrity – do not state an offer as exclusive or scarce, then continue selling and offering it to everyone.
Do you hold certifications or degrees? Have you received awards? Done something to position you as an authority figure? Flaunt it! Not “in your face” like a braggart, but subtle reminders. Initials after your name, for example. Or dropping a relevant sound byte into your conversation, such as “You know, when I spoke last year at SXSW with so-and-so on this very topic, we got asked about X a lot. I teach my clients that … ” or “When I was in the process of getting my PhD, one of my biggest struggles was X – just like you. I overcame it by … ”
This one is easy, but often overlooked. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Like my newsletter – every single Wednesday, rain or shine, feeling like garbage or sitting on the beach with a Mai-Tai. It is consistent, reliable, and anticipated. You know it is coming, and you know you can count on it. Perhaps, without even realizing, you feel the same way about me. Consistency – doing what you say, following through, acting with integrity – is another way of establishing connection. It says, “You can count on me to do what I say. You can trust me.” I highly recommend incorporating consistency in your marketing ASAP.
Did you ever have a crush in gradeschool? Of course, you were 8 – you had no idea what “love” was, but you would have sworn that was it. You would have done anything to get that person’s attention. In fact, looking back, you can see that thing you did to make him/her notice you and how silly that was… That is the power of genuine liking. You’ll do nice things for someone you like, you’ll do almost anything to get their attention if you really like them, and you’ll do favours for them without a second thought.
This one should not be used on its own in most situations – it is best used with reciprocity and scarcity as well. But building relationships with people so that you genuinely like them and they genuinely like you can get you better deals on things you need to buy, it can be the final nudge to bring in a new client or customer, and it can even get you barter arrangements or freebies when you’re in need.
“9 out of 10 experts agree, X is the solution.” Consensus is a more refined and powerful form of social proof – using the power of a person’s peers to help them understand the value of something. It can be used blatantly, as the example above used by everything from toothpastes to sub-sandwich companies, or in more subtle ways.
For example, when negotiating with a potential client, instead of just telling them about your guarantee (if you offer one) – tell them how many people have taken you up on it. Chances are, if you’re operating with integrity, very few if any people have ever asked for a refund on your services. This is a consensus. People who have purchased from you in the past agree that your services have value.
Those 6 persuasive keys will help you to gain power at the negotiating table.
Of course, it also helps to have a powerful offer. Something that people genuinely want and need. If you’re guest posting, look for topics that the target blog and their audience will find hugely valuable. If you’re looking to get sponsorship, figure out what they really want.
Craft an offer that is compelling enough that they would be absolutely stupid to pass on it, then weave those 6 keys into your message. Persuasion is a skill, and it can be learned – you’ll be amazed at your results once you apply this knowledge!
Have you used any of these 6 keys in the past? Share your results in the comments!