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Small And Medium Business Negotiation with James Orsini, Ep #114

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Business negotiation, whether carried out by small, medium, or large business personnel, is a skill that must be developed. But small and medium business approaches to negotiation need to be better informed if they are to succeed when competing against the larger companies. My guest on this episode, James Orsini, brings a wealth of insight to us through his experience as an agency leader and from teaching small and medium business leaders how to be more successful, not only in negotiations but in business in general.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:37] James’ experience prior to joining Gary Vaynerchuck
  • [4:01] The best advice James can give regarding improving negotiations
  • [4:53] Mistakes small and medium-sized business owners often get wrong in negotiation
  • [11:49] The struggle with “giving away your best stuff” – and what really happens
  • [16:28] Things James wishes people would do differently in their negotiations
  • [18:50] The best piece of advice about negotiation

Giving free advice sets the stage for successful negotiation down the road

One of the hallmarks of Gary Vaynerchuck’s approach to marketing has been to give away everything freely. He expresses the philosophy clearly in his book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Since he serves as President in Gary’s organization, James is also a believer that free advice builds trust. It’s this trust, that is often built long before someone approaches the company to become a client, that sets the stage for mutually beneficial business negotiation.

Imagine the scenario for yourself: If you listened to and learned from the things Gary V shares for a year and decided it was time to hire his company, how much unease or doubt would you have about the company’s ability to help you reach your goals? Not much, because Gary has freely helped you with actionable and effective strategies all along. You trust him and thereby, trust his company. In this conversation, James highlights how that trust translates into influence and essential trust at the negotiation table.

Negotiation in business is not always about getting more or coming out on top

James once stepped into a negotiation with a client knowing full-well that he’d give in to the client’s request before it was all over. His goal was not to win the client over to his way of thinking but to help the client recognize his level of expertise. He wanted the client to see WHY he pushed back on the “ask” in the first place. He knew that when they understood his logic and the expertise and experience it demonstrated, they would be more likely to take his advice moving forward. So, his first statement when they began the call was, “I’m going to do what you are asking for, so know that up-front.” With that out of the way, the client was able to relax and hear what James had to say.

James describes it this way, “We did what they asked, but by taking the time to take them through my logic—why I originally asked for what I asked for—they said, ‘You know what James… that transparency… we’re now going to go beyond where the contract was going to end.'”

That’s a winning business negotiation in my book because it’s a win for the future of the relationship and sets the stage for successful future negotiations.

Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do

James is emphatic in stressing that business negotiation is not about pulling something over on the person seated on the other side of the table. It’s about doing the right thing for both your company and the client or customer you’re hoping to serve. You must have the client’s best interest in mind and be able to demonstrate that to be the case at every stage in the negotiation.

This doesn’t mean that you forego making a profit. It means you approach that goal by first knowing that you won’t go wrong by having the client’s best interest in mind throughout the process of negotiating the contract.

But the attitude also relates to ongoing work you’ve already secured. For example, sometimes, when a client is unsatisfied with what’s already being done for them, it means giving back some money in the best interest of the relationship and the effectiveness of what the client is trying to achieve. Other times, it means making a pivot to change a process or strategy you’ve employed so you can then double-down on what might work better. These are just examples, the main point being that negotiators need to enter every business negotiation with a commitment to do the right thing, rather than a focus on winning or getting more from the client.

Business negotiation does not need to result in winners and losers

Through his years of business negotiation experience, James has learned that no situation requires that someone wins and someone loses. Mutually beneficial outcomes are always possible, it just takes hard work and clear communication to get there. James wants every agreement reached to be one where the client feels good about what the agreement requires of them. He wants their goals to be met and the cost of reaching those goals to be more than acceptable from their perspective.

That may sound like a dream level of alignment but James says it’s achieved through how the negotiation is carried out. Questions need to be asked for the sake of clarity, over and over. Explanations need to be made to educate the customer on what you will do, how you will do it, and why. The “why” is especially important. James emphasizes that every bit of that is dependent on your skills as a negotiator.

There is an art to business negotiation, so get training to help you

When James was asked what he recommends for small and medium-sized business owners regarding negotiation, he immediately said that they need to be trained in the art of business negotiation. He recounted how he once went to a negotiation training even and found that everyone else in attendance was from a Fortune 500 company. He was the only agency person there. To him, it was an illustration of why agencies are overmatched when going up against Fortune 500 businesses in sales negotiations. Those companies know what they are doing when the small or medium-sized business negotiator simply doesn’t.

James’ point couldn’t be said any more plainly than that. Training is necessary to understand the nuances of human decision-making, how emotion and emotional intelligence play a part, and how the skill required to truly understand those you negotiate with can make all the difference in reaching those “everyone is happy” results that James says are always possible.

Listeners, pay attention to this short but insightful episode. In characteristic style, James shares freely so that you can be more successful in your business negotiations.

Resources & People Mentioned

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