Simply muttering the word “negotiation” can strike fear into many bloggers and marketers. Negotiation may even evoke as much fear, anxiety, and stress as public speaking.
“Fear in negotiations arises in a variety of circumstances,” the authors of Emotions in Negotiation explain. “If we face an aggressive opponent, if we bargain without adequate preparation, if we sense that our opponent has superior bargaining power, if we feel insecure about our ability as a negotiator, we may experience moderate to extreme levels of fear.”
However, bloggers and marketers need negotiation skills as much as they do their creative process. So how can something so simple as an agreement between two parties be so daunting?
Whether negotiating million dollar contracts or simply negotiating who will do the dishes, negotiation skills are used in nearly every aspect of life. Bloggers and marketers that embrace negotiation, honing those vital skills, will certainly reach new levels of success.
Reasons Bloggers and Marketers Need Negotiation Skills
Developing the right strategy and employing key skills can certainly make you a savvy negotiator. Negotiation skills can be applied in almost any situation bloggers and marketers face.
Bloggers and marketers negotiate a variety of things, especially when it comes to the allocation of resources like budget, time, and staff. Negotiation skills are also crucial for cultivating client, sponsor, and vendor relationships as well.
Bloggers and marketers need to employ the art of negotiation when . . .
- Discussing salary.
- Pitching new ideas.
- Hashing out co-marketing agreements.
- Allocating budget.
- Directing staff.
- Dealing with vendors.
- Closing deals with clients.
- Hiring new team members.
- Landing sponsors.
- Recruiting influencers.
- Recruiting new clients.
- Leveraging content strategies.
- Building relationships with other creative types.
- Managing projects.
You need to be ready to negotiate at the drop of a hat, because you never know when a client may call to discuss contract terms. Or when an important project will begin to unravel.
And being a savvy negotiator means being a leader, according to Harvard Business Review. “To persuade people to follow your lead, you need to appeal to their interests, communicate with them effectively, and sell your vision—all of which are part of effective negotiation.” Be a leader.
Leaders Know the Value of Negotiation Skills
Bloggers and marketers are leaders. They lead and command a team of creative people, lead business in a profitable direction, and lead clients to success.
Leaders know the value of negotiation skills, because without one, you simply can’t have the other. As a savvy negotiator, you can leverage the best deal for the win-win, and keep your team employed.
The value of negotiation allows you to . . .
- Develop meaningful relationships. One of the most essential negotiation skills is active listening. Honing this invaluable skill puts your negotiating partners at ease.
- Build confidence at the negotiation table. Clients can smell desperation, especially if they know how big they are in a particular industry. However, maintaining your creative value during negotiations is a must to keep the lights on.
- Gain the upper hand. Gaining the upper hand is still about the win-win. Bloggers and marketers need to intertwine client needs with their interests as a business.
- Define your client’s BATNA. This lets you create a strategic plan that incorporates your services, your client’s needs, and your competitors’ abilities.
Identifying Client BATNA is Essential to Your Negotiation Strategy
Identifying client BATNA is essential for bloggers and marketers prior to sitting at the negotiation table. BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement, is the X-factor in negotiations.
BATNA is the key element that determines your negotiation power. It is the point when your client either signs on the dotted line, or walks away from the negotiation.
It is simply all about the alternatives your client has at the moment of negotiation. Identifying client BATNA is also beneficial during contract renegotiation, or if a client is asking for deliverables out of scope.
Here are a few quick BATNA questions to ask prior to client negotiations:
- What is the client’s alternative if they decline to sign?
- Will they miss their project deadlines?
- Does the client have the time and money to find another blogger or marketer?
- Will the client find better value for the budget you proposed?
- Can you compromise to move the agreement forward?
- What is your BATNA?
Bloggers and marketers need to identify their BATNA as well. This allows you to know when to walk away from a negotiation that simply isn’t profitable or manageable. Now, let’s get to specifics.
1. Negotiation Mantra: “I am the Best Option”
You did your research and you know that your negotiation partner will certainly benefit from your services. There is no need to make lesser concessions, because they need you. It may simply be a confidence issue.
Bloggers and marketers who touch on value during this critical negotiation moment are often more successful. Reassure the client that you understand their marketing challenges, and offer competitor comparison to seal the deal.
2. Set Big Goals and You Will Achieve Them
Bloggers and marketers who set big goals will achieving them at the negotiation table. If you know the value of your services, and have identified your client’s BANTA, success will follow.
In fact, when negotiators set challenging goals, they close bigger deals, according to research conducted by Deborah Zetik and Alice Stuhlmacher of DePaul University.
3. Employ Active Listening
Active listening is one of the most powerful negotiation skills bloggers and marketers can possess. It allows you to approach any situation with supreme confidence at the negotiation table.
Active listening allows you to key in on verbal and nonverbal communication. And when your negotiation partner truly feels you understand their marketing and SEO needs, you add value to your services.
When employing active listening during negotiation, use the following key characteristics:
- When your negotiation partner has finished speaking, briefly repeat what they had said or requested in a concise way.
- Dig deeper into objections and find out what is truly behind them. If a client is hesitant to hire you, ask why?
- This is simply stating what your negotiating partner had just stated. However, you want to be concise and really lay it on the negotiation table for discussion.
4. Communicate with Open-Ended Questions
Communicating with open-ended questions in any negotiation is best practice. Bloggers and marketers who use them will put their negotiation partner on the spot.
This is especially useful if you know you are going up against savvy corporate negotiators. Open-ended questions force them to go off script and answer naturally.
Here are a few great open-ended questions for your next budget negotiation:
- What budget works best for you?
- Why is the price out of reach?
- Is the price too high due to the past results?
This puts value on your services when budget becomes a discussion point at the negotiation table. Take the focus away from price and place it on the positive past experiences.
5. Understand Client Emotions
Most people buy based purely on emotions. Bloggers and marketers who understand client emotions will certainly have more success at the negotiation table.
Develop an overwhelming enthusiasm when it comes to the relationships you have with your client, and it will surely spread.
Let them feel like they are part of your team, inspiring the creative process. This gives clients a sense of ownership in what your team creates while building long-term relationships.
6. Powerful Planning for Negotiation Success
Bloggers and marketers that sit at the negotiation table with a well-developed plan will be far more successful in achieving their goals. And the goals of their clients.
You want to get into the mind of your negotiation partner in order to define what it is they want, need, and why.
Use these powerful planning questions prior to negotiation:
- What is the negotiation style of my negotiation partner (corporate, vendor, small business)?
- What are my interests, and what are the interests of the collective whole?
- What are the interests of my negotiation partner?
- What can I trade in a pinch that has little value to me, but high value to my negotiation partner?
- What are my three best options to keep the negotiation moving forward?
- What is my walk away number?
7. Be Gracious
Being gracious is certainly part of the negotiation process, especially if you are bidding on projects. You want your negotiation partner to feel completely satisfied with the results.
Bloggers and marketers may not walk from the negotiation table completely satisfied. However, for creatives, the satisfaction comes after a client relationship blossoms into multiple projects.
It is certainly essential for bloggers and marketers to hone negotiation skills. From closing deals with new clients to managing projects, the art of negotiation is needed for your growth and success. Your ability to negotiate effectively will also allow you to become more confident and authoritative, leading to a powerful edge within your industry.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant who shares his expertise working with startups in publications like Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. With 20 years of experience growing successful businesses, he has a passion for implementing strategies that foster growth through marketing, sales, and social media.