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11 Small Business Negotiation Strategies and Tips for Business Owners
by Brett Farmiloe
May 5, 2022
two women sit around table discussing business

Small Business Negotiation Tips

What is one negotiation strategy that a small business owner can use to help get to a “yes” fast? 

To help small business owners with negotiating tips, we asked business professionals for their insights. From prioritizing empathy to positioning yourself as a solution, there are several strategies that may help you succeed in your next negotiation to benefit your business.

Here are 11 negotiation tips to get to a “yes” much faster:

  • Position Yourself as a Solution 
  • Work for a Mutually Beneficial Deal 
  • Keep Stakeholders Top of Mind 
  • Start With a Trusting Relationship
  • Prioritize Empathy 
  • Acknowledge the Other Party’s Needs 
  • Strive Towards a Win-Win Situation
  • Label Their Fears
  • Use the Unique Situation to Your Advantage
  • Present Your Product as the Only Option
  • Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

business owners who contributed to this article

Position Yourself as a Solution 

One way to get a “yes” fast as a small business owner is to focus on the other side’s needs before communicating your strengths. If you truly believe that there is a good fit between you and the other party, asking them the right set of questions will drive them towards that conclusion. 

For example, when we talk with potential customers about our predictive text software, we start by asking them what their use cases are and what kind of solution they are looking for. Once they describe their needs, we focus our demonstration on their use cases, making them excited about the opportunity to use our product.
- Guy Katabi, Lightkey

Work for a Mutually Beneficial Deal 

Come to a negotiation with the willingness to reach an agreement rather than winning or being right. In William Ury’s “Getting to Yes,” he suggests that positional bargaining doesn’t result in fast or agreeable negotiations because each side comes to the table to argue their side, which really only cements their resolve. By focusing on reaching an agreement that is fair and mutually beneficial, you’re sure to get a “yes” fast.
- Randall S Smalley II, Cruise America

Keep Stakeholders Top of Mind

When negotiating with healthcare and dental vendors, I work to get the best value I can for the sake of our patients. My most successful negotiations are those in which both sides are happy with the outcome. If we agree that, when it comes down to it, we want patients using our products and services, we can always reach a win-win end quickly.
- Henry Babichenko, Eurodenture

Start With a Trusting Relationship

Get a “yes” fast by creating a relationship built on trust. While small business owners can feel hesitant to trust that salespeople have their best interests at heart, I suggest finding a professional that can work with them as advisors and a trusted resource. 

As a commercial finance brokerage, we conduct a thorough analysis of our clients’ companies to help them get the equipment they need at competitive rates. In operation since 1977, we have decades of experience and truly are interested in building lasting relationships.
- Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital

Prioritize Empathy

Use empathy as an effective negotiating tool. Empathy helps us understand others’ perspectives by putting ourselves into their shoes, which we prioritize in conversations with clients as independent life insurance agents. It allows us to see situations through another person’s eyes without judgment or bias. The more empathetic you become, the better able you’ll be at getting your point across when negotiating.
- Chris Abrams, Abrams Insurance Solutions

Acknowledge the Other Party’s Needs 

Be solution-driven and impact-focused to get a “yes” faster. In order to come to the table with solutions, you must first listen to align your interest with the other party. Depending on what you are trying to negotiate, no two negotiation processes are the same. 

But as with most things, start with the end in mind. Try to understand and envision the other party’s end goals and pain points and see how best you can address them while also aligning them with the goals you are ultimately trying to achieve.
- Spiros Skolarikis, Comidor

Strive Towards a Win-Win Situation

Negotiating isn’t about attempting to outsmart your opponent. This is business, so you’re looking for a win-win situation that benefits everyone. That’s how you should approach negotiations.

When a person loses an aggressive negotiation, on the other hand, they feel assaulted. This makes them negative and possibly hostile, reducing the likelihood of repeat business. Always keep in mind that both parties have a chance to win, and never underestimate the value of being nice.
- Ryan Shallenberger, SEKISUI

Label Their Fears

One thing I took away from the book “Never Split The Difference,” is to label your counterpart’s fears to diffuse their power. It’s not enough to feel their pain; a negotiator needs to interrupt a counterpart’s amygdala, the part of the brain that generates fear, by labeling their fears. By using a phrase like, “It seems like...” you can label a fear and work towards generating a feeling of safety, well-being, and trust. That’s when a successful negotiation can happen.
- Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Use the Unique Situation to Your Advantage 

It’s best to arm yourself with all relevant information pertaining to the deal you’re closing. The dynamics of the situation can greatly impact the outcome, so it pays to be certain before making an offer or conceding on specific terms of the deal. 

For example, consider who has the leverage in the negotiation. In other words, who needs the deal more than the other party? Perhaps you offer a service that can’t be found anywhere else — this gives you an advantage, and you should certainly address this if you want to get to a “yes” fast. 

You should also consider timing constraints. Is the other side on a tight deadline? You might be able to use that information to your advantage by offering limited-time offers and deals which trigger a quicker decision. Remember that negotiation is not a fight, conflict, or an argument — it’s two sides looking to reach an amicable agreement. To get to a “yes” fast, simply make the offer far too convincing to ever say “no.”
- Mike Grossman, GoodHire

Present Your Product as the Only Option

Try to emphasize to your leads why your products, in particular, would be the most beneficial for them as opposed to similar products from other companies. Make it seem as if they would be absolutely remiss to pass on the opportunity to take advantage of your products so that they will feel like they basically have no choice.
- Maegan Griffin, Skin Pharm

Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

When it comes to negotiations, you simply can’t let your emotions get the best of you, at least not the negative ones. There’s a difference between speaking with conviction and being blatantly aggressive in your approach. Make sure that your communication is confident but also considerate, and stay away from getting confrontational.
- Harry Morton, Lower Street

About the author
Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Brett Farmiloe Founder & CEO,
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1165 Herndon Parkway, Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20170

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