The Bureaux - Negotiation

Simply put, negotiation is a discussion aimed at attaining an agreement. Getting what you need from someone else whilst they are attaining what they need form you is not always easy. Though there are ways to becomemore proficient.

How many times have freelancers have been told “do it for free, you’ll get so much exposure for your work” or “we’ll pay you more on the next job if this one works out?”.  Those are simple examples of times where you will need to have a strategy in place. To some it comes naturally, to others it is a learned skill consisting of different facets that become more intriguing as you learn.

An excellent business negotiator has high chances of boosting business success and profits as they are able to achieve what they set out to in business, with what they are setting out to do is expand and grow. You can’t always have it your way, you’ll always find that aspects to your dreams or targets will affect others dreams and targets.

So how do you play nice with everyone and still move forward. How do you grow when you know this round you are taking a hit? That is the art of negotiating. You will negotiate with customers, employees, employers and more in your business, so becoming profecient sooner rather than later is something we are going to try help you out with.

Below are some of the essential instances that will require negotiation;

Marketing / Advertising

In a way, this is a negotiation. Marketing is a vital department in every business – it’s how people find out you excist. A mind-blowing marketer should also be an exceptional negotiator. This helps in assuring customers that your products or services are the best fit for them. Comunicating with your potential cusstomers can be approached as a negotiation even if you are not able to converse freely with them, you are leaving them with a choice…to buy or not to buy, that is the question. So make sure you rpesent a good argument in your marketing.

A good starting off point is explaining why they should buy your products or services, showcase the benefits – whether it is cost, quality or uniqueness. In South Africa it is not legal to openly criticise competitiors, so focus on your own strengths. If your products or services are of excellent quality and your prices are higher than those of the competitors, enlighten the customers that the reason why your product attracts a higher price. One method in doing this through communication is through quality design, copywriting and general digital feel.  The age old adage of you buy cheap you buy twice is more pertinent today than ever before. We judge brands on their design without even knowing it, which means that design is as important as ever.

Neogtiations will give you many decisions to make. Be calculating when following your gut instinct. 

Decision Making

To move forward in a negotiation you need to make decisions as items are brought to the table.  This requries a lot of deep thought and a fair amount of gut instinct – but it also cannot take forever to make a decision. Time is always a factor and you don’t want to be left with a bad hand after the final whistle has gone. Decision making is not just a part of management, but rather on all sectors in the business. Ensure you involve all stakeholders in coming up with the final decision. Effective decision making includes all levels of management, as well as the employees. You may have to negotiate longer working hours for a project to be completed, or a larger budget to attain a more effecive product. Bring all of your ideas and proposals to the table. Hint: When dealing with financial sectors, passion will get you so far, but effective reports and numbers that little bit further.

Staff negotations are going to determine you companies mood. A positive mood and employees that rave about your company are important to growth. So if you can spare someone that afternoon off when their work is done, why not. You need to compromise at times.


The quality of management inside a business determines the quality and quantity of work done. As well as the internal vibe of an office and the potential for growth. Yes, it is vital. A business may have a variety of managers such as a marketing manager, finance manager, human resource manager and much more. For the business to succeed, negotiation at the management level is vital. Negotiation brings about the agreement in cases where there are differences. This strengthens the relationships among the business stakeholders which in turn results in improved performance and achievement of the set goals.

With negotiation internally, remember that the game is long and compromise is key to attaining results, which should always be the main focus. So if you have to relent on certain issues such as time frames, but can see the bigger picture, then take the shot. Warning! Don’t let managers or anyone within an organisation walk all over you, once you’ve set the tone, it could be a long haul. So if you are given that extra time off, make sure you repay it to the business through hard work on more importantly, focus.

finding customers

Find the sweet spot, know what you are willing to walk away with.

Customer Interaction

In the art of the negotiating process, how you treat your customers is key. To a business, customers are the boss, and so they should be treated with respect and care. But the customer is not always right, and you will find those few who have the potential to ruin a good thing and set your business back. So be careful not to waste too much time trying to satiate a customer that flashes those warning signs.

But in general, customers are great, well at least they should be or you are hitting the wrong target markets. The price, quantity, quality and overall experience will dictate whether the customer will come back or not. Negotiating deals with some customers for cheaper rates and longer contracts is beneficial to your cash flow, which is healthy for business. Some customers you know are going to be a once off, so make it worth your while. It is always cheaper to retain a client and make further sales than to find new clients.

The more customers, the more the sales and yes, profits – so always ensure you make the sale and are aware of the effects it will have on your business (time spent, expenses vs future benefits).

Negotiating with a first time customer is tricky. In certain industries, companies that provide the same service might have prices ranging from R10 000 to R100 000, and the customer may have no idea why there is that difference in price. Explain it to them, communicate what it is you do and why you believe you are worth the price you are setting. A customer who knows your worth is worth keeping happy.  But when it comes to setting a price for services, do not show your hand too soon –

A good rule of thumb is to let the client speak, chances are they will divulge their budget along with their brief and you are then able to access from that what your entry price point is going to be. Listening is good for business.

Setting a price point coupled with the benefit of your service to a customer is vital. And be sure to explain expectations on both sides so that everyone is aware of their role and deliverables. And remember to be flexible, make a judgement call. Is this a long-term customer that needs help getting started? If you believe so then sign a 12-month contract with a review of pricing after 6 months.

Always look at the negotiation as a cake. Sometimes you get 50% and they get 50%, or it could go 70% / 30%. But what if you brought in another cake 3 months from now where you get 80% and the other party gets 20%, but it’s 20% they didn’t think they were going to have. Always think of you how can expand the amount of cake for everyone.

Negotiation is like a game of chess- anticipate your opponents move.


Once you have determined that you want to negotiate, a plan of action can be developed. Creating a plan will help you anticipate the other parties needs, offer positive solutions to problems and never say “no”.  Anticpate your opponent’s actions, and their needs. Approach a negotation as a game of chess and have a few options/ avenues in your mind when you negotiate that you would be comfortable with.

For example, if you were applying for a job as a graduate and said you were willing to intern for 2 weeks free of charge. That make an impression far more positive than someone expecting a salary that is akin to 10 years of experience straigh tout of the gate.

Negotiation in business is effectively communicating your goals with the other party in a way that makes them relent and just give in to your demands…just kidding…that would be a strange world. Negotiation is about sticking to your ideas, finding compromise when possible and crafting solutions that benefit all parties involved. With proper negotiation skills, your business will be allowed to grow in the way you envision. So take your time, prep and always approach a negotiation with the other side in mind, what are they wanting, what are their needs. Be flexible, but also dont compromise yourself.

Jay Clark

Founder, Fort Hartley