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financial-recovery-headlinesBusiness Week ran an article suggesting that businesses prepare for the recovery. (Getting Ready for the Recovery, April 14, 09) What the article doesn’t mention, and what you and I both know, is that the recovery will look very different from what we are used to. Rather than strong, steady growth, many of us will see more peaks and valleys.

This means more opportunities to negotiate: Negotiate your lease; negotiate to get prompt payments from clients; negotiate with employees. Negotiation skills must now be a core competency for every small business.

 Small businesses were hit hard by the recession. We are innovative and responsive, so we will survive. To maintain that flexibility, you need to look at three core negotiation skills.

  • Making tradeoffs, rather than concessions
  • Making effective counteroffers, rather than saying no
  • Planning for all conversations, rather than winging-it

Here is a case on point. A sales rep for a small company called me after her client asked to re-negotiate the deal—within days of signing the deal! My client was confused because she didn’t know what to ask for in return for accommodating her client. She did not want to just give in to her client’s demands after they reached a deal. It would have eroded her company’s bottom line.

Not only should you know what you are willing to give the client, you need to know what you want from them in return. Once you know that, you can now make an effective counteroffer, rather than caving in. Both of those require at least a little thought and preparation.

Everything has changed and you have to be willing to negotiate. It is now expected of you. Know what you will give and what you want in exchange. It will keep your doors open despite the recovery.

For more information about making tradeoffs, counteroffers or planning, read Negotiation Rules! A Practical Approach to Big Deal Negotiations.