In part one of this business negotiation series, we shared some of the secrets of great negotiations – tips you can use as you work with ag retailers, lenders and other business partners. Here are five more ideas that can help you get what you need for your farm business.
Start building relationships first. This is one of the biggest mistakes individuals make in regards to farm business negotiations. Find the things you have in common and build trust.
"Any time you can find affinity between the two of you, it builds trust and breaks down barriers," says Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, a retired Air Force veteran, book author and negotiations expert. Useful information can be gleaned during casual conversation, including what they value in life or what motivates them. If you do this right, you may never need to talk about price because you'll be able to trust that you're getting what you need in either price, service or both.
Flip the discussion. One way to move a negotiation forward is to turn the tables and ask the other party, "What is it you need for us to make this happen?" "This is what we call 'pattern interrupt,' " Fernandez says. "If you make the other side think you care about their success and not just your own, it can go a long way toward getting the deal you want."
'How about I throw that in?' You may have underused assets that can be part of a deal, such as underused labor during winter. Offer to plow a retailer's parking lot all winter in exchange for a discount on seed.
Don't talk too much. Talking too much is a surefire way to kill a deal. Never underestimate the power of silence. When discussing a deal, if you simply stop talking and get comfortable with the awkwardness of silence, your ability to win your argument or a get concession in the negotiation increases significantly.
Get it in writing. Consult with a contracts attorney to review contractual documents or any that require a signature. The purpose of a written agreement or contract is to provide protection for both sides and alleviate any ambiguity of terms, says Fernandez. "Myriad problems can occur when the terms of a deal are not put in writing because what you think the other party said and what they think you said can be two different things. Documenting the agreement eliminates such perception problems and protects the interests of all parties involved."