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Compromise and Agree: The Art of Negotiating With Clients

One of the most difficult situations you can be in with a client is when you’re negotiating a detail and neither party can reach an agreement. You might be trying to agree on a fee for a digital campaign, outlining long-term goals for the business, or even just trying to organise a time for a call. Whatever it is, you’ll be wishing for a win-win outcome. 

When it comes to the art of negotiation it’s important not to take too hard a stance, you don’t want to come off as unaccommodating. At the same time, as an account manager or project manager, you know best, and you might be struggling to persuade your client of that. 

If you are struggling with negotiating with clients, there are some tips and tricks you can use during the negotiation process. From how to communicate effectively and respectfully, to knowing when to stop and listen, these tips will ensure you can successfully master the art of negotiation. If you need further help with your negotiation skills after reading this article, consider Pareto's negotiation skills training course, which offers additional insight into the art of negotiation.

Know what you and your client want

In order to get the most out of the negotiations process, the first step is to know exactly what you and your client want. If you come into the negotiation without this knowledge, you’re falling at the first hurdle. Once you know this, you can frame the conversation as a discussion about your needs rather than an all-out competition. This negotiating tactic will make the process seem more like a discussion and less like a demand.

Make small talk

Imagine: you’re in a call with your client, and as soon as they’ve picked up the phone or entered the video conference, you launch into your demands for the negotiation. This is bound to be off-putting for your client, and you likely won’t get very far.

Instead, start off with some small talk before getting into each party’s demands. Don’t worry about chatting too much, either - up to one-third of our speech is comprised of small talk, and it’s vital to forge a connection with the person you’re negotiating with. 

Listen to your client

As long as you’re focused on relaying your demands to your client and not listening to them, you won’t have much luck in the negotiation process. The key to the art of negotiation is to practice active listening, a skill that emphasises empathy and understanding.

With active listening, you’ll ensure that you are absorbing what your client is telling you, allowing you to make better decisions in the negotiation process. Continue to ask questions to your client and really listen to their answers, then paraphrase their replies to ensure you’ve understood them correctly. By doing this, you’re more likely to reach an agreement as you know exactly what they’re asking for and why.


Show empathy

The art of negotiation isn’t just about understanding your client’s demands but actually considering their side of the negotiation. This may be difficult if the conversation is getting more provocative, but it’s crucial that you stay calm and try to consider the situation from your client’s perspective. 

If you can show empathy during a negotiation, you’ll almost certainly increase your chances of a win-win outcome. If your client is becoming more demanding, making some concessions is an easy way to show that you don’t want your relationship to become strained and that you’re able to consider a different side. 

How to fold without failing

Though a win-win situation is a best-case scenario for negotiation, there are times when this might not be possible. Knowing when to back out of negotiations is a crucial part of the art of negotiation – but there are plenty of ways to do this without failing the negotiation process entirely. 

When you decide to make a concession, be clear of exactly what it is you are giving up, otherwise, you may be giving things to your client that they’re not even aware of. Additionally, you should carefully ask for reciprocity when making your concession. This can make the negotiation fairer, and mean that you’re not entirely giving up in favour of your client. For example, you could say, “We expect that you are now in a better position to make some changes.” 

Finally, when making concessions, consider giving these benefits to your client in separate phases. Research has shown that we prefer to get good news given in stages, rather than all at once. Keep this in mind when finalising your demands and outcome of the negotiation process. 

Though good negotiating skills are often innate, there are some clear rules to the art of negotiation. With these tips, you can improve negotiations with your client, and ensure that every party leaves happy. 

Do you need further help improving your negotiation skills? Pareto’s negotiation skills course will empower you to succeed during the negotiations process and create long-term relationships with your clients. Learn the art of negotiation 100% online or in the classroom, and level up your career. 

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