Negotiating in business is a lot like marriage: if you want a long lasting relationship and to live “happily ever after,” then you’ll need to make sacrifices, build trust into the relationship, and periodically show your appreciation. Because, remember: at the end of the day, a business relationship is still a relationship, and it needs to be nurtured so that it lasts and satisfies both parties.
Do you need a long-term relationship?
There’s nothing wrong with going in aggressively and demanding more and more from a one-time business deal. For example, coming to the negotiating table with the ferocity of a tiger, and trying to get the best deal possible (e.g., when buying a piece of real estate, or selling off a discontinued line), may be the best course of action for you. Sure, you won’t be popular at the negotiating table, but you’ll never see each other again and you’ll certainly walk away smiling.
However this same approach – although great for short-term relationships – simply doesn’t work if you intend to deal with that same business partner over the long-term. If anything, it will create a bitter and resentful relationship that certainly won’t stand the test of time, ultimately costing your business time and money. You may lose that sales superstar to another firm that just treats them better. Or you may lose that contract to that distribution network because they prefer to deal with people who focus more on the relationship and not the bottom line.
What can you do to make the relationship last?
If you’re looking for a long-term business partner that will be there for you through the often turbulent ups and downs of the business world, then you’ll need to change your game. A long-term business relationship, is only successful to the extent that both parties have negotiated agreeements that they are both happy to implement.
So, if you are able to address the other parties needs, priorities and constraints on your terms, you will find that the deal will work well when it goes into practice. The negotiation is just the hors d’oeuvre the main course is when the deal goes into life.