33 Negotiation Tips To Help You Come Out Ahead

If you are in business, you Negotiate!  

You negotiate with your partners, employees, auditors, vendors, bankers, competitors, lawyers.

Every person you meet in business will negotiate with you for a better deal; and you do the same with them.

Even in personal life, you are always negotiating. Here are a few examples.

  • Your wife wants to go to the Chinese place for dinner, while you negotiate to order in pizza.
  • Your kid wants the new toy thats coming out for Christmas; and you want him to finish studying his multiplication tables to get it.
  • Your parents want you to come home for Christmas, while you want to spend the holidays in Hawaii.

Whenever we deal with people, we are negotiating for something or the other.  So, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for negotiations as well as during negotiations. These will enable you to  have better odds of getting more out of your negotiations.

Preparation.

How you fare in negotiations will depend on your level of preparedness.
1)  Do your homework and learn about as many aspects of the expected negotiation and the negotiators, if possible.
2) Who are you dealing with?
3) What are his strengths/weaknesses?
3) Is he the final decision maker?
4) What is the least he is willing to accept to give me what I want?
5) What does he know of my strengths/weaknesses?
6) Is he a straightshooter or is he known to hide things?
7) Is he passionate about this subject matter and know a lot or is he susceptible to bluff?
8) Is there something you can do for him as a favor, which will bear upon the outcome of this negotiation?
9) What are the accepted standards in this country, industry or culture?
10) What alternatives would he be willing to accept if not the best option for him?

The Negotiation Setting.
1) What date and time are you going to meet this person to negotiate with? Is it set to your advantage or disadvantage?
 I’ve heard of a business tycoon flying in his competition and going into meetings with them right when they are too tired by the long flight to think straight. At the same time, you need to have your head on straight. You should not be distracted by other problems in your business.
2) Where are you going to hold the negotiation?
 – You have a home advantage if its at your office. Usually for negotiations where a lot is at stake, people use a neutral venue.
3) Who are the people who will appear on your side?
 – A show of force may be a big factor in the negotiations. A lawyer on your team will make it look like you have the law on your side.
4) People who appear taller, better looking, in better health, have a natural advantage and have a better chance of gaining more ground in a negotiation.
 -Remember the tale about keeping the visitor’s chair shorter than yours so you appear taller?
5) A smaller table in a small room is much better than a big table with empty chairs in a big room. A small room makes everything less formal and hence its easier to arrive at a meeting point.
6) If the negotiation is between two people, sit at the corner of the table so you are next to each other, instead of being at opposite sides of the table.
7) If you want it to be a friendly negotiation, choose a less formal venue such as a quiet restaurant.
8) As you arrive, take off your coat and hang it behind your seat. This makes you look vulnerable, and puts the opponent at ease.
9) Keep your hands on the table at all times to show that you have no hidden agenda. Hidden hands make people uneasy.
10)Nowadays, a lot of negotiations take place over the Internet or other telecommunications media. I believe this is ok when you already know the person you are negotiating with and you have previous experience of negotiating with that person. If its a new party you are involved with, its best to meet them face to face for your first negotiation. Nothing beats a hand shake during a meeting. Also, its rather difficult to pick up subtle nonverbal cues when you are across a televison screen.

Continued below…

Deep Janardhanan is the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Noble River Ventures; a full service marketing firm in Richmond,Virginia. He works with small businesses in the Richmond area advising them on marketing strategy and tactics. He also helps his clients with business negotiations. Noble River helps business with Website Design and Development, Social Media Marketing, Strategic Partnerships, Lead Generation and Conversion as well as Web & Print Copywriting.

Article Continues…

During the Negotiation

1) Make a big first offer, one that you are pretty sure will be rejected.  But this has the psychological effect of having set the anchor point or a reference point. Every subsequent offer your receive will be based on this first offer.

2) Make an aggressive counter offer. When you receive an offer, even if it was more than what you were expecting, make sure you ask for more.Its only expected.

3) Dont show your hand. Seek the most concessions while trying to give away only what you know are small concessions on your end, but may appear to be much bigger.

4) Ask lots of questions. Try to understand the basic driving forces behind his requests or offers. Encourage him to talk about his business and what has been going on lately.

5) Ask about why he chose to do business with you/ your company. The more he answers, the more he talks, the stronger your position in the negotiation.

6) I once met a professional mediator whose background was Broadway. He had perfected the art of looking distressed or elated at a moment’s notice. His negotiating skills were very highly valued since he could sway the direction of the negotiation merely by raising or dropping his voice suddenly with a look of disillusionment. You may want to practice this in front of the mirror.

7) Nod a lot when he is talking. This gives the impression that you are agreeing with him.

8) Follow his body signals(non-verbal cues). Hands folded may mean he is disagreeing or also that he is cold.

9) Ask him if he is comfortable. This will make you look like you have his best interests in mind too.

10) Get clarifications on the offer. Rephrase it in your own words, so there is no ambiguity. 

11) While you rephrase it, break his offer up into multiple pieces and enumerate each one. This will give you multiple points for demanding concessions.

12) If you are feeling pressured to accept, retreat. Its okay to take a break, and then regroup for more discussion.

13) Avoid distractions during the negotiations. Switch your phone off, ask your secretary to hold all calls. You dont want to lose out just because you spoke to your gym coach during a negotiation.
Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negotiation#Negotiation_Tactics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory
http://www.slideshare.net/readysetpresent/negotiation-powerpoint

I agree this article was longer than most but I am putting it all together so that it can be most helpful.

Deep.

Is Your Startup Set Up To Fail?

We’ve all heard it often enough. 95% of all small businesses fail within the first 5 years. The problem is that all the knowledgeable sources never mention why they fail.

 Having dealt with numerous clients over a long period of time and having averted failure many times over, I decided to take a whack at this question. I will try to deal with this question over several posts.

So, Why Do Small Businesses Fail?

 The first and major reason for failure is that the business was created for the wrong reasons. There should be one and only one reason any business is created. That there is a need in the marketplace and this business provides the solution.

Here are a few reasons I see why entrepreneurs start their own business.

  1.  They’ve been fired, downsized, laid-off or otherwise made redundant from their work.
  2. They had a fight with their boss and think that working for oneself would be better.
  3. They are working way too hard at their job and think that working for oneself would be easier.
  4. They know they have a marketable skill and friends say they should make a business out of it.
  5. They see someone else making money and decide they want to do the same thing.
  6. They see an establishment going out of business and think they can do better.
  7. They start a business to save on taxes.
  8. They retired from a job and need a new source of income.
  9. They have a hobby that they want to make money from.
  10. They invented a better mousetrap and think the world will beat a path to their door.

By no means do I imply that your business is certainly doomed to fail; if you’ve done your homework before starting your business.

 Identify your market before you start your business.

Better still – Identify your market before you identify your product!

Most people first come up with a doohickey which they try to sell. This is a great mistake made by many rookie entrepreneurs. To be able to sell something to a market, you need to know the market intimately. You need to know their likes, dislikes, the jargon they are familiar with and the dominant emotions in their minds. You need to identify the current conversation going on in the market and know exactly what it is they are concerned with. In short you need to uderstand that market inside-out.

Many entrepreneurs I know and respect don’t put their money in things they cannot understand. Case in Point is Warren Buffet. He decided to stay out of the dot com fantasy since he had no understanding of the market. And we can safely say that he came out of the Dot Com Bust without a scratch.

 Start your business only when you find a need that you can solve in the market.

Go out and find the most pressing need in your market. Ask questions to your consumers. Find not only what they need, but also whether they are willing to pay money for it. The more pressing the need the more likely that you will succeed.

You are passionate about the solution.

After you fulfill the first two criteria, the most important need is for you to be passionate about your product or service.  If you are shy or unsure about it, stay out of business. If you are hesitant to ask your mom to buy it, dont get in to the business.

Crunch The Numbers :

There are many costs for running a business, some seen, many more unseen.  Make sure you work with an experienced accountant who can give you a good picture of what to expect.

Watch Out For Your Customers :

You need to be passionate about serving your customers. Read my article about doing right by your customers. 

Takeaway:

The most prominent reason why most small businesses fail is that those businesses were not based on a real problem/solution equation in the market.

More On The Subject :
 

12 Tips on Using QR codes In Your Marketing

QR codes are meant to avoid the need for typing in your web address into a smart phone (which usually carry a very small keyboard). Over the past few years, we have seen marketers adopt QR codes in a big way. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when using QR codes in your business.

This is a QR code pointing to the Noble RiverMarketing Services page.

Click to view how we can help your QR needs

  1. Use QR codes with smartphone users in mind.
  2. Display them where people walk by, or where they sit for a while, but dont have access to a computer.
  3. Lead them to landing pages, not your regular web site home page. Smartphone users dont want to go hunting for a special link on your website.
  4. Explain the advantage to the user in scanning your QR code right now. Are you offering them 15% off ?
  5. Do not replace web address with QR codes. Web addresses are for users sitting at a computer screen. They may not have a smartphone. They cannot use a smartphone to browse to your landing page if they are at a computer.
  6. Use web addresses in email. QR codes are useless.
  7. Keep it black or two toned. Multi color QR codes may throw some scanners off.
  8. Please provide instructions on how to use QR codes. For example, instruct your users to “Scan this code using your Google App”.
  9. You can also provide links to your favorite QR code readers.
  10. You can offer a link to a page that explains”What is a QR code?”
  11. Be creative with your QR code. A friend of mine has created a card that is the same shape as a QR code. The entire back side of his card displays his QR code!
  12. QR codes do not need to always point to your web address. Here is one pointing to our phone number. ( If you read it with a good app, it will directly initiate a call to our number.)

Important Note :

The Google Search App on my iphone4 could not read this QR code. My QRS+ scanner app did read this and immediately called the number.

Some QRCode readers :

BeeTagg ( if you are reading this on your smartphone, get it here. )

Free QR code generator qrcode.Kaywa.com

OmniQRcode.com : This site has QR codes that can redirect users appropriately to the right app for their device.

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And one more thing before you go! Take a look at this article on mashable regarding people who never read this article.

And for those who don’t listen to me, you end up here in stupid QR code museum!

This post by Deep Janardhanan, CMO at Noble River Marketing.

Why You Need A Hosting Service Provider

As you start your online business, one of the first things you do is to identify a hosting company to host your website.

You need to host your websites for a number of reasons. I list just a few of these reasons here.

  1. Most websites are online 24 hours a day; seven days a week. Your computer needs to stay on irrespective of the time or day. Most personal computers are not built for such performance. Hosting companies have very powerful servers that are meant to stay on without powering down for years at a time.
  2. Website Performance

    Your website needs to load as fast as possible. Most home networks are connected via Internet Service Providers lines which are not conducive to high speeds. Hosting companies have high speed backbones that make your website display at high speeds.

     
  3. Handling High Load

    Preferably, many people are using your site at the same time. On a personal computer, any kind of load will cause the processor to suffer and people start getting Page Load Errors. Hosting companies have high performance multi-processor machines that easily handle heavy loads with ease.

  4. Security:

    There is a need to constantly update your computer with the latest anti-virus software and security updates. Hosting companies have the manpower and the technical knowhow to carry these out constantly.

  5. Space: Over time, your website may grow to consist of many pages. A web host can offer you more space depending on your needs.
  6. Email: Your website also needs to have your own email address. Your web hosts provide the SMTP server for sending and receiving your email.
  7. Most webhosts now have website builders that help you put up a page with no technical skills required.

There are quite a few well known web hosts available.
GoDaddy.com
1And1.com
networksolutions.com
aspnethost.com
cera.net
fatcow.com
bluehost.com
inmotion.com
hostgator.com

Here you see a comparison of hosting sites.

Marketing Mythbusting : Caveat Emptor

For ages, we’ve heard  the phrase Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware. And for years, it has been true. It was up to the customer to do the due diligence. If you were not careful, you would be taken for everything you had, and there was nothing to be done about it.

Boy, have things changed now! Its understood that goods are returnable if proven faulty. Warranties are the rule rather than the exception. Department stores have policies in place that make it easier for you to return products.

So, how does it affect the small business person?

  • Well, it has upped the ante for you. If you are selling a product, the onus is on you to make sure that your product is faultless; or its coming back to the store.
  • Even when people deal with faceless websites, they expect free shipping even on returns.
  • Your customers expect only the best quality checked products; anything less is frustrating and disheartening. They feel cheated.
  • Customers look for exemplary service, anything less is business suicide.
  • Buyers have learnt not to worry. They know they can return it if your product isn’t up to the mark.

This is a paradigm shift as far as the customer mindset goes; and you and me better learn to adapt. The only other option is to perish and there are many examples around us of businesses that perished because they did not rise the customers expectations.

So what do you do as a small business?

Simple.

  1. Explain in clear terms what your customers should expect.
  2. Explain the effort you have put into making your product stand out.
  3. Explain why your product is better compared to the competition.
  4. Explain how you stand behind your claims.
  5. Explain what you will do if your customer is unsatisfied.
  6. Provide exemplary service; go above and beyond; don’t cut corners.
  7. Expect to satisfy every customer that buys your product.
  8. Finally, keep your promise – accept a returned good and provide a refund without whining or misgivings! 

The positive effects from this are two-fold:

  1.  Word spreads that you stand behind your product; and that you keep your word. More people learn that its good business to be in business with you.
  2. The customers you treat fairly will feel the need to reciprocate and will bring you more of their business.

Follow the  few rules of Customer Satisfaction above and you will see your business grow and keep on growing.  

Here’s a similar post : How to make your customers feel special.

To Greater Profits Every Day,

Deep Janardhanan, Noble River Marketing.

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Noble River Marketing is a full service Marketing Agency in Richmond,Va providing consultancy services to growing businesses in Richmond and suburban areas.

25 Rules for Using Images on the Web

 Investing in an image might be good for your marketing.

An image is worth a thousand words.

This sure is a cliche, but has been true for thousands of years! Even today, a picture trumps text on your page by a huge margin. A glance at the above image is enough to understand what the artist wants to convey. So, it may be worth your effort investing in the services of a good graphic artist.

Here are a few rules of thumb that you may follow while using images on your web page.

1) Pictures of people always have better results than other images.
2) Pictures of smiling people perform better.
3) Pictures of your target demographic doing something healthy and fun may pull better.
4) All else being the same, pictures of pretty people(men/women/cute kids) are the best performing ones.
5) If you are using pretty people in the picture, they should be shown using your product or enjoying the benefits of using your product.
6) If your product is being shown in the picture, but its not being used, then make sure the people in the picture are looking at your product.
7) Preferably they should be wearing something in colors that match your theme colors or logo colors.
8) The background may be muted bringing attention to the person in the forefront.
9) It may be a good idea to keep the background relatively clutter-free too.
10) Your image should be placed above the fold, where the user can see it without scrolling.
11) If you are placing the image on the left hand side of the page, your product should appear on the right hand side bottom corner; or vice versa. This helps the viewers gaze to fall on your product as a natural extension of where he is going to look next.

 If you are using a video instead of an image,
12) Make sure the video snap shot that appears makes sense and is engaging  enough to make the user want to click to view it.
13) If  you are using a youTube plugin, normally the snapshot is taken from the middle, but you can set it to something else too.
14) You can use some scripting to display an image from anywhere in the video, then play the video in place when the user clicks on the image.
15)If you are hosting the video on a third party site, please load an in-place image initially so that there is no ugly empty space on the page. The video can be loaded hidden and displayed when fully loaded. Talk to your software guy about how to do this.

Tags:
16) Do not forget your tags. Use AlT tags for images and videos.
17) If you are using a video hosting service such as youtube, they allow multiple tags with your images.
18) Mention your product, then your company name if it makes sense.
19) Please do not use other people’s images without permission or at least attributing to the creator.  If you can provide a link to the creators site from your footer, that would be even better.
20) If the owner of the images asks you to bring it down, you have no option but to take it off right away.

Other tips:
21) If you are a solo-preneur or a mom and pop shop, put your picture on the front page.
22) If you are a local shop, it may help having your entire family’s picture on your web site.
23) Try to reduce your images to the smallest possible size without losing clarity to avoid long loading times.
24) Use sprites if you can; again check with your Software Guy.
25) Carry a camera with you, and snap anything that looks pleasing. You never know when the next big blog idea may show up and you can snap a picture go with it.

Do you have any words of wisdom regarding the use of images? Have you run any tests that disprove any of the rules above? Let me know … 

  * Image courtesy of Treehugger blog.

24 Sources of Financing For Your Growing Business

I thought I’d  make a list of the various sources of financing for any startup or growing business.

This is only a small list to get us started. Please feel free to add to the list by commenting below.

  1. Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  2. Venture Capitalists
  3. Angel Investment
  4. SBA 7(a) loans
  5. Local Business Incubators
  6. Other Government Sources
  7. Bank Loans
  8. Bank Overdraft
  9. Credit Unions
  10. Micro-financing
  11. Relatives,Friends
  12. Share capital
  13. Investing Clubs
  14. Franchising
  15. Vendors
  16. Suppliers
  17. Customers
  18. Crowd Sourcing
  19. Factoring
  20. Leasing
  21. Credit Cards
  22. Pension funds
  23. Private Money Lenders
  24. Pawn Shops
  25. Hire Purchase
  26. Grants

There are many organizations that give you loans on collateral. This collateral can be a capital asset like land, buildings etc or future profits  or even private guarantees.

Every source has it pros and cons. Sometimes its beneficial to work with a company that specializes in getting loans for businesses. This may help you find the best deal available.

If you are a company that helps others get loans for businesses please feel free to introduce yourselves and link to your website in the comments. Let us know your name, the market you serve and the kind of businesses or loans you specialize in.

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