All prices and terms are set by someone. Therefore they can also be changed by someone. Colin Thompson takes a look at the art of business negotiation and how you can start to make better business deals.


Prices are a best-guess estimate of what the customer will pay. The cost of manufacturing and marketing a particular product or service often has very little to do with the price that is put on it. Do not be intimidated by written prices, assume that they are written in pencil and can be easily erased and replaced with something more favourable to you. The key is to ask.


The purpose of negotiation is to enter into an agreement such that both parties have their needs satisfied and are motivated to fulfil their agreements and enter into further negotiations with the same party in the future.


In a successful negotiation, both parties should be fully satisfied with the result and feel that they have each "won" or no deal should be made at all. When you are determined to achieve a win-win solution to a negotiation, and you are open, receptive, and flexible in your discussions, you will often discover a third alternative that neither party had considered initially but that is superior to what either of you might have thought of on your own.


You can always get a better deal if you know how. You never need to settle for less or feel dissatisfied with the result of any negotiation. If you want a better deal, ask for it. You will be quite astonished at the better deals you will get by simply asking for a lower price if you're buying and asking for a higher price if you're selling.


Timing is everything in a negotiation. Whenever possible, you must plan strategically and use the timing of the negotiation to your advantage. If you are in a hurry to close a deal, your ability to negotiate well on your own behalf diminishes dramatically. The person who allows himself or herself to be rushed will bet the worst bargain. You resolve 80 percent of the vital issues of any negotiation in the last 20 percent of the time allocated for the negotiation.


The terms of payment can be more important than the price in a negotiation. You can agree to almost any price if you can decide the terms. It is important to never accept the first offer no matter how good it sounds. Act a little disappointed when you hear the first offer, and then ask for time to think about it. Realise that no matter how good the first offer is, it usually means that you can get an even better deal if you are patient.


Whenever possible, talk to someone who has negotiated the same sort of deal with the same person. Find out what the other person is likely to want and what he or she has agreed to in the past.