Negotiation can be quite a nerve-wracking process, especially when you just can’t seem to convince the other party to budge. It can become so intimidating, in fact, that you might not bother asking for that discount you wanted. The good news is that you can employ certain techniques to help tip the scales in your favour. So if you’re looking to brush up on your negotiation skills, read on for four tips you can use to get the best possible results.

1. Do Your Research

Reaching out to ask for a deal without any idea of the prevailing market rate is like going into battle without intel. If you don’t have that information on hand, it’ll be difficult for you to know if you’re getting a good deal or not in the first place.

So, before you initiate contact with a company, do your research to understand what the average price range is for the product or service. Look up the company’s top competitors as well, as you can use their prices as reference points when negotiating for a reduced rate. And if you can, seek out their actual production costs so that you know how much wiggle room you really have.

2. Talk to Decision-Makers

If your point of contact isn’t cooperating, there may still be hoped to achieve the result you are looking for. The person you’re negotiating with may not have the authority to give you a discount.

The best thing you can do in such a scenario is to look for someone in the company who can help you – the actual decision makers or buying managers for the product or services you offer. Often these people are higher up in the company’s hierarchy. Before throwing in the towel, ask your contact person if they could forward you to the right person to talk to instead.

3. Know the Best Time to Ask

Sometimes, what can make or break a successful negotiation is asking at the right time. Prices can vary due to industry changes and seasonal supply and demand. Companies are far less likely to give you a reduced rate during peak seasons. At this time, they’ve usually met or exceeded their quota for the quarter, and thus aren’t in desperate need to take on new suppliers. However, if their product stocks become low in the period after this peak season, and sales slow, it could then be the best time to initiate a conversation with your target supplier. If you negotiate with them during this time, they might be more willing to give you a discount just to bring in some additional income for that quarter.

4. Use Silence to Your Advantage

You would expect to be doing most of talking during negotiations, however it is the inexperienced negotiators that have a tendency to talk too much. It is wise to remember that the more you say, the more they can use to their advantage.

The good news is that not talking at strategic points can help you get an advantage. Just remember that the best time to stay quiet is when either side has just made an offer. It may make you feel uncomfortable at first, but don’t say anything for as long as you can. Eventually, the other party will speak up just to fill the silence, revealing valuable information that might just give you some leverage.

The Bottom Line

The secret to successful negotiation boils down to proper preparation, planning, and practice. It may take some getting used to, but these will become second nature before you know it. Keep these tips in mind when beginning your next negotiation, and you’ll soon find yourself getting better rates with your partners.