Friday 8 November 2019 5:15 am

Top tips for negotiations from Sir Richard Branson

Israel is famous for its savvy negotiators. So to launch the new Virgin Atlantic route from London to Tel Aviv, I went head-to-head with its residents to put my skills to the test — and I had to bring my A-game.

It was no easy feat. The people of Tel Aviv know how to drive a great deal. But here are a few negotiating tips I picked up from my time there — and throughout my business career.

Do your research 

Knowledge is power, and knowing who you’re negotiating with and what their assets are can be a massive help when trying to get what you want. 

Look into the person or company, find out what would pique their interest, and use it to make them feel like the deal would be mutually beneficial. 

Be patient

The best things take time, and negotiation is no different. Diving into something too fast can sometimes scare off the person that you’re in conversation with. Instead, take things slowly, listen carefully, and take time to make decisions in order to get the best result.

Build a rapport

Relationships are everything, and having a good rapport with someone is the best way to get a good deal. Knowing what appeals to them and showing a genuine interest in them, as well as their product or service, is a sure-fire way to negotiate well.

Leave your ego behind

Ego can cloud your judgement and be a turn-off for potential business partners, so try to stay humble and level with the other person. Not only will it make them want to work with you, it’ll also make them warm to you as a person for future business deals.

Have a strategy

Strategy is at the heart of good negotiation and pivotal in allowing you to get the best deal. Once you’ve done your research, think about the best way to get what you want: what could you offer the other person? What things can you let go of? Once you know these, navigating your way through the conversation is much easier.

Ask for what you want

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and tiptoeing around the point is never productive — especially in business. Being direct (but not egotistical) is the best way for the other person to see clearly what you’re after so that you can enter negotiations on the same page.

Be prepared to walk away

Like any great haggler, always  be prepared to walk away if the deal in front of you doesn’t work. This may be a tactic to achieve what you want, but bluffing will only show signs of weakness. 

If you walk away and they want to make it work, they’ll call you back to renegotiate. If they don’t call you back, it’s unlikely to be a deal you want to engage in anyway.

Make an irresistible offer 

Negotiations have to feel like a win-win situation. Once you’ve researched their company and spoken to them about what they want, make an offer that you know will turn their head. Delivering this in a clear, concise way is important in making them feel like it’s a deal they understand and want to accept as soon as possible.

Have a clear confirmation when you close the deal 

When negotiations are over and terms set, it’s important to relay exactly what was agreed and what the next steps are. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, so make a plan with next steps as soon as possible.

Once you’ve closed the deal, act fast to make sure that it’s locked in. 

The best way to show commitment is to start the process as soon as hands shake. Proactivity will ensure that your negotiation skills don’t go to waste.

Main image credit: Virgin Group

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