6 tips for improving your negotiating skills

September 10, 2011

The author discusses the fine art of negotiating and offers 6 tips.

Key Points

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "negotiation" as "a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement: an act of negotiating."

Negotiation also involves each party trying to gain an advantage by the end of the process. Let's take a look at the roles physicians might play in negotiating. One thing to notice is the differences in your negotiations over the same issue, to receive almost the same result.

The physician as buyer: From the moment you open the doors to your patients, you have to be ready for business. That requires a location, utilities, office and medical supplies, office and medical equipment, fixtures, technology, and most important of all, staff.

So now that you are ready to open, how did you get everything in place? Some form of negotiations had to take place.

Some of the benefits of proper negotiation:

Among the pitfalls of improper negotiation:

NEGOTIATING IS NOT A GAME OF WINNERS AND LOSERS

The "win-win" that I referred to previously is the result that we all look for. We always hope to find a solution where both parties "win." An even scorecard guarantees a winner on both sides.

The true value of what your negotiating for is what someone is willing to pay for it and what the other party is willing to sell it for. You give discounts all the time in your practice for various reasons, including to move expiring product or to meet the local competition.

Very few situations exist where you can't negotiate. The key is always to maintain control (physical and emotional) during the process, because the other party will realize a weakness, and that's where your strength diminishes. The best poker players sense the weaknesses of others and take advantage of it.

Chances are, you've worked very hard for your money. It's your right to ask for a better price, more benefits, a free warranty, or a 20% first-time-customer discount. Your business is extremely valuable.

Here's a little secret: most vendors want you to negotiate. They'd love to give a quick 10% to 20% discount if it means retaining you as a customer. Most pay far more than that, on average, to get a new customer. Show them your value, and exercise your right to negotiate.