As an association or chamber professional, you likely find yourself in situations where negotiation is an option: when working with sponsors, event venues, potential job candidates, etc. But how often do you actually engage in the negotiation process? If you’re a bit reluctant, simply because of inexperience or the intimidation factor (yes, negotiating is intimidating), you’re certainly not alone.
But don’t let that hold you back from potentially better deals! Check out these five tips for negotiating like a pro:
1. Do your research
First and foremost, when negotiating, it’s critical to show up prepared. Who are you negotiating with? What are their primary goals? And not only that, but what are your options in this negotiation? For example, let’s say you’re trying to secure a speaker for your event, but you can only afford to pay a certain price. Well, what other in-kind benefits can you offer? Did that person recently publish a book? If so, could you offer time and space for them to sell it onsite?
The more you know about them - and better yet, what they’re trying to achieve - the more value you can offer them and the more win-win situations you’ll be able to construct.
2. Be honest about what you want
I know it’s sometimes hard to ask for what you want, but you have to remember, people can’t read minds. And while it’s possible that they may offer what it is you’re really hoping for, the chances of that happening (completely organically) are slim. If you don’t ask for it, you certainly won’t get it, so put it out there and see what happens! The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but at least then, you’ll know in your heart you tried, and you won’t be left wondering what if….
3. Don’t take it too seriously
While negotiating should be done in a serious, professional manner, it’s important to remember to not take it too seriously. If things start to get tense, or worse, hostile, turn back around - quickly! (That’s a red flag indicating that you probably shouldn’t be doing business with that person or company to begin with.)
Regardless of what you’re negotiating, always be kind, friendly, and compassionate. You’ll both get much further that way!
4. Make sure the final agreement is in writing
Some negotiations are better done face-to-face, while others are completely fine to do via phone or email. However you do it though, make sure whatever you land on is explicitly stated in writing somewhere. (You’ll likely have a contract to cover that.)
This is particularly important if you go back and forth on prices and offerings many times. The last thing you want is for something really important - something that someone’s really relying on - to get lost in the mix.
Last, but not least, practice, practice, practice! Very few people (if any) start off as exceptional negotiators. It takes time and experience. But the good news is, with experience, you’ll not only get more comfortable negotiating, but you’ll become more effective overall too!
Now like we mentioned, negotiating tends to pop up a lot during the event planning process - when choosing speakers, sponsors, a venue, etc. For other tips surrounding the event planning process - beyond negotiation - check out our free guide below. In it, you’ll find tips and best practices for promoting your event, engaging attendees onsite, keeping the momentum going post-event, and more!